Health And Nutrition
Since 1982, the National Nutrition Week in India is celebrated from September 1 to September 7. It aims to create awareness on the importance of nutrition and a well-balanced diet for the human body.
Mental and physical well-being, including the consumption of nutrition-rich food, is key for a happy life.
Various cultures of India and their rich diversity is reflected in Indian culinary delicacies. The 72-course Wazwan platter of Kashmir, to Irumba of Manipur, to the famous Hyderabadi dum biryani, to vada paav in Mumbai, to thepla in Gujarat, to avial in Kerala, to pongal in Tamil Nadu – there are delicacies galore across every village, town, and city of India.
Rich cultural traditions, concepts of food science, and interstate migration have enriched India’s food diversity over the years. Such food leaves one’s tummy and the taste buds happy.
India has 36 entities (28 states and 8 federally administered territories), and each one has a different food culture. That is the richness of India! However, outside of India, this fact is not well known. Lack of this knowledge results in an incomplete understanding of not just India’s diversity, but also of the immense treasure trove on information on nutrition and well-being. To understand how Indian food is much more beyond lentils, rice, and spices, you should watch this video which is short and will take less than 2 minutes of your time:
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Indian Culture And The Importance of Food
In India, food is key to the overall development of the mind and body. Food is an integral part of Indian culture. As per Ayurveda philosophy, you are what you eat.
Best practices for eating food –one’s posture while sitting for a meal, using hands to eat, cooking in clay pots, eating in moderation, the tableware one eats in, to the combination of food items being consumed – are important to Indians. In some areas, brass or silver tableware is used for serving and consuming food. In Kerala, for example, on social occasions, food is eaten on plantain leaves.
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Cooking food involves a proper blend of various grains, lentils, spices, and condiments. Indians also use nuts, wild plants, herbs, seeds and fruits in their cuisines. Besides the main meal, curd, pickle, chutney, and Indian desserts also play an important role in our diet.
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COVID-19: Nutrition And Well Being
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, nutrition and well-being are more important now. With restricted access to outdoor and physical activities, it is difficult to manage one’s mental and physical well-being. However, it is also essential to take small steps towards good health and well-being. We elaborate 5 simple steps to improve health and nutrition.
1. Set A Routine
Routines help manage time well. Chalk out time for work, sleep, eating, preparing meals, and activities like reading and exercising.
2. Have Healthy Meals
With most buying activity happening online now, one may be tempted to have meals delivered at their doorstep. But, eating healthy has two-fold advantages. One can cut out junk and unhealthy food – unhealthy sugars, fats, and carbs. Cooking meals helps one take time off work and online activities and spend some time cooking what they prefer.
3. Choose Slow Food Instead of Fast Food
Slow-cooked food retains the nutrients and is more flavourful than fast-cooked food. It is good for the development of the mind and the body and is healthy. A leading NGO provides slow-cooked mid-day meals to students in Indian public schools. They are doing this to ensure that the students continue with their schooling. Yes, lack of access to food affects education and vice versa. Watch how they are ensuring education for 1.7 million students every day.
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4. Maintain Hygiene
Nutrition and hygiene go together for health and wellness. Ensure you clean your hands with a sanitizer or soap frequently and avoid touching your face repeatedly. Sanitize your house and workstation frequently. Given how zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 are on a rise, it is essential to be wary of unclean surroundings and practice personal hygiene.
While touchless greetings are in place in most of the world only after the pandemic hit us globally, it has been the norm in India since forever. This video tells you that.
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5. Don’t Waste Food
The discussion on food is incomplete without a discussion on food wastage. The UN estimates that globally, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year. On the other hand, globally, 1.9 billion people fail to find access to regular and healthy meals thus are undernourished or malnourished.
Even across India, tonnes of excess food gets wasted or are lost in harvesting, transport, processing, or storage. This happens while 194 million people in Indian go hungry every year.
To know how food insecurity goes beyond food production, watch this video.
Food insecurity is linked to poverty, and in turn to undernourishment, wasting, and stunting in children. In the 2019 Global Hunger Index, India ranked fell to 102 out of 117 countries – the lowest in South Asian countries.
While the number of undernourished people has fallen across the millennium in India, there is a need to reduce food wastage and produce food sustainably.
70% of the world’s freshwater is spent on agriculture. Besides, by 2050, we will have to feed 9 billion people, which will need more water and more land. This calls for reducing food wastage on a personal front, and to grow food sustainably.