How to make healthy eating choices easier

How to make healthy eating choices easier

According to SA Statistics, consumer price inflation was 7.6% in August, down from 7.8% in July 2022. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are among the main contributors to the 7.6% annual inflation rate. Food prices and NOB increased 11.3% year over year and contributed 1.9 percentage points to the overall Consumer Price Index (CPI) at an annual rate of 7.6%. The high costs of a monthly food basket force most families in South Africa to make some changes. Given the high prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes, which are affected by an unhealthy diet, it is critical that the current high cost of food does not become a barrier to healthy eating.

During October, the Ministry of Health will collaborate with other government departments as well as international and South African health organizations to address barriers to healthy eating and promote National Nutrition Week 2022 Trait, Make healthy eating choices easier. The National Department of Health notes that in addition to concerns about non-communicable diseases, South Africa has the highest rates of overweight and obesity in sub-Saharan Africa. When it comes to nutrition, South Africa bears a double burden as both undernourishment and overnutrition occur in our societies, sometimes coexisting side by side in the same household. The 2016 Demographic and Health Survey reported that 68% of South African women and 31% of men were overweight or obese. About 20% of women and 3% of men are obese. In addition, approximately 13.3% of South African children under the age of five are overweight or obese, which is more than double the global average of 6.1%. Lifestyle changes, including making daily healthy eating choices and regular physical activity, are important for South Africans of all ages.

Research has shown that barriers to healthy eating include the cost of healthy food, low levels of nutritional knowledge, culinary traditions, social pressures, and lack of time for meal planning and preparation. Many barriers to healthy eating are related to perceptions, not facts. An example of this is the belief that healthy eating is more expensive when there are many reasonable ways to make healthy food choices.

“Currently, the high cost of living in South Africa is spurring changes in the type of food we buy, how often we eat or choose ready-made foods like fast food,” says Maria van der Merwe, president of ADSA (The Dietetics Association of South Africa). On preparing meals at home We can use this opportunity to make sure we prioritize healthy eating There are many ways consumers can save on food costs Focusing on meal planning and preparing whole foods meals at home is cost-effective and relevant Choosing healthy foods.

Mothers and children need access to affordable foods containing growth-promoting nutrients such as eggs, says Nicola Eli, acting CEO of Grow Great, a campaign that seeks to spur South Africa toward a national commitment to achieving zero stunting by 2030. Culture of early childhood feeding practices at the family level. “Supporting mothers who continue to breastfeed at work and at home ensures positive growth and development of the child; along with healthy food choices, breastfeeding benefits both mother and child, and protects children from obesity and stunting later in life,” she says.

Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HSFSA), another partner in National Nutrition Week 2022, explains how healthy nutrition and physical activity can be used to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases. She says, “225 South Africans die every day from cardiovascular disease. AfterTB and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in South Africa. To put this in perspective, more South Africans are dying It is caused by more heart disease and stroke than all types of cancer combined. The main causes of cardiovascular disease are overweight and obesity as well as high blood pressure. In general, South African diets tend to have a low consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits, with a high intake of salt and fats. and refined carbohydrates. Tobacco smoking and alcohol use are also contributing factors, as is a lack of physical activity. Therefore, it is important that we make changes to our lifestyle habits by making healthy eating choices and exercising every day.”

Professor Naidoo further says that parents and caregivers need to make a conscious effort to influence their children’s eating habits from a young age. Families looking to cut their budgets due to rising costs should first consider reducing or stopping their consumption of alcoholic beverages and tobacco, replacing sugary cold drinks with fresh, clean water, and eating fresh vegetables and fruits for salty snacks or sugary desserts.

Many people think healthy eating is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Preparing meals at home is more affordable than buying prepared foods or eating out, and it increases the likelihood of making healthy eating choices. Carol Brown of the South African Nutrition Society (NSSA) highlights these matters Tips for planning and preparing quick, healthy and affordable homemade meals:

  • Create a monthly food budget and a weekly or monthly menu plan that fits your budget and do your best to stick to it. Choose simple recipes to save time.
  • Menu planning and food preparation help reduce food waste, which is essential when your budget is tight. Don’t let leftovers go to waste, and store foods properly to make them last longer.
  • When you go to buy food, always use a shopping list based on your budget and menu plan. Do not shop for food when you are hungry.
  • Look for specials and, if possible, buy in bulk and share bulk purchases with relatives or friends.
  • Choose a variety of foods that are reasonably priced and in season.
  • Consider including a meat-free day at least once a week.
  • Include dry beans, peas, lentils and soy that you can use in many dishes such as salads, soups, stews and curries. Because they are high in vegetable protein, they can be used as a meat substitute in a dish, as a meat extender, or as an ingredient in their own right.
  • Include lots of different vegetables and fruits in your daily meal plan.
  • Whenever possible, cook extra food for another dinner or lunch the next day. Freeze extra portions that can be quickly reheated for another meal. This saves energy costs as well as time and prevents food waste.
  • Use appropriately sized pots and pans on the stovetop to save energy. Keeping the lid on for stews and soups allows for faster cooking times and less energy use.
  • Practice portion control to avoid overeating.
  • Use cooking methods such as steaming, blanching, grilling, and baking instead of deep frying to reduce your use of cooking oils and fats.
  • Use herbs and spices to flavor your food instead of salt.
  • Children of all ages need easy access, in their homes and at school, to a variety of appropriate foods, including plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, that can be grown at home, at school or in the community. Involve your kids in meal prep and enjoy sharing meals together without any distractions like screens.

Among the collaborators in the 2022 National Nutrition Week:

National and regional health departments
Basic Education Department
Department of Social Development
South African Military Health Services (SAMHS)
Campaign is growing exponentially
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
Dietetics Association of South Africa (ADSA)
South African Nutrition Society (NSSA)
Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA)
Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA)
School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

For additional information visit National Nutrition Week:

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