By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
THROUGH a local campaign, the Bahamas Association of Nutrition and Dietetics (BAND) is encouraging Bahamians to make healthy food choices even when their “budgets are stretched”.
National Nutrition Month is recognised worldwide in March, but BAND hopes that the healthy campaign carries on way beyond the month.
Throughout the year, the group will host intensive programmes and activities to promote good nutrition under the theme “Beat VAT…Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”.
One of the main things that the group hopes to communicate is that good nutrition is the foundation of good health and should not be compromised in any way.
“The benefits are tremendous in every aspect of life – physically, mentally, financially, academically, spiritually and socially – thereby contributing to a better quality of life. On the other hand, poor nutrition increases the chances of getting infections, noncommunicable diseases, like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity, disabilities and even death,” said Shandera Smith, a representative of the group.
Contrary to popular belief, Ms Smith said good nutrition does not only mean eating healthy foods, instead it means having a diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods eaten in the right amounts at the right times.
Ms Smith has the following a few tips:
- The type of foods you choose to eat
Choose foods with good quality nutrition. Eat foods that are as close to nature as possible, for example foods that have not been processed or foods that were minimally processed. Examples of these are whole grains like bran, whole wheat and oats; fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables; peas and beans. Choose more non-dairy foods, like coconut, almond, soy or rice milk, cheese and yogurt); fish, poultry, lean meats and meat substitutes. Choose water as your primary beverage.
- The amount of food you eat
All of us need different amounts of food based on our age, gender, weight, height and activity level. You can see a dietitian/nutritionist to determine how much you need. But generally speaking, you can use the following diagram as a guide.
So, half of your plate should consist of non-starchy vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and tomatoes; a quarter of starchy foods like rice and potatoes, and a quarter of protein rich foods like fish, poultry, lean meats and meat alternatives as well as peas and beans. Keep in mind the plate size for adults should be 7”/9” and that of children should be 5”.
- How frequently you eat
Everyone should have at least two full meals for the day. You should always start your day with breakfast. Yes, it is still the most important meal of the day! You also need lunch and dinner/supper with snacks (if necessary). For toddlers, children and adolescents, snacks may be necessary to provide enough energy and nutrients.
Having good nutrition is possible. It just takes some planning, creativity and commitment.