For Overall Health, Focus On Nutrition Must Be A Sustainable Habit
The typical Indian diet that relies more on consumption of carbohydrates has seen a decline in protein consumption
It is no new revelation that India is grappling with challenges related to nutrition. Some of these include calorie deficiency, micronutrient deficiency, obesity, etc. Another prevalent challenge is protein deficiency. Government reports and statistics have indicated that protein consumption is on a gradual decline (NSSO). Recent studies (IMRB) have already indicated that most urban Indians could already be protein deficient. Another study, (India Protein Paradox, 2020) pointed out that perception of protein might be diluted, courtesy of poor knowledge and awareness, coupled with age-old myths and misconceptions around macronutrients.
We know that good nutrition is essential for,
• decreasing chances of developing several diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases, etc.
• maintaining a healthy weight, since natural foods have a positive impact on weight management.
• increasing energy levels, improving health of the skin, boosting immunity of the body, etc.
What keeps us away from getting rid of these challenges is lack of information, inaccurate and fake information, lack of consistency, etc. So how do we tackle these challenges?
There is no hack! The simple answer is to start getting into a sustained routine of activities that provide our bodies with good nutrition:
• Learn about good nutrition:To begin focus on nutrition one needs adequate knowledge about good nutrition from the right source. Information has been made easily available to us through national initiatives such as Eat Right India, PFNDAI, Right To Protein, IDA, etc., that have been working towards increasing awareness by spreading accurate information about both micro and macronutrients. Following them regularly and going through authentive content would be a great place to commence.
Also Read| Protein - A Key ‘Building Block’ Of Life
• Identify nutritious foods: A startling fact revealed that people might not be able to identify even basic protein rich foods that are easily available all around us (India’s Protein Paradox Study, 2020). There are free available guides that speak about the nutritional benefits of several foods. Guides such as the Protein Index and India Protein Score are helping people daily to identify both protein rich whole foods and pre-packaged foods. Getting this information would assist in moving forward towards preparing for dietary changes for good nutrition.
• Eatwell: The typical Indian diet that relies more on consumption of carbohydrates has seen a decline in protein consumption. Which means basic important macronutrients such as protein, are slipping out of typical Indian household meals.One must balance out their diets by consuming plenty of whole fruits, variety of vegetables,whole grains, etc. Lean cuts of meats and poultry can be chosen since they are good sources of protein and have fewer calories. Vegetarians can opt for beans, tofu, soy, paneer since they are also protein rich sources. The key is to constantly identify the variety of nutritious foods that are easily available all around us
• Constant monitoring: Monitoring your progress will help you stick to the routine. There are freely available tools over the internet that can help people make calculations of food intake that helps determine the amounts of micro and macronutrients consumed. For instance,a publicly available tool – Protein-O-Meter, helps people understand their protein intake. Recently, this tool started giving out individual protein report cards that gives users a detailed analysis of their daily consumption, informs if there is a gap in required an actually consumed levels of protein and suggests protein rich foods to add in their daily diets diet to enhance protein intake, ultimately enhance overall nutrition for the body.
Following these steps should be a great start towards the path for tackling the above-mentioned nutritional challenges; however, consistency is essential. Even when Nutrition Month is over, and we step into the period of festivities next month it is important that we continue to focus on what we eat. Hence, we must always remember, the food consumption choices we make have an impact not only on our stomach, but also on different parts of the body such as the heart, brain, skin. etc. Each one of us can benefit from good nutrition and improve our health and the quality of life. For overall better health, a sustained focus towards nutrition must remain to be a long-lasting routine of our lives.
(The author is a Nutritionist, Diet and Lifestyle Coach, Founder of The Health Pantry, Supporter of the Right To Protein initiative)