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Are You Suffering and Smiling with Your Diet?

23-Jun-2014.By: Elsie Solomon

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You know, you might have the money to feed well and still not eat right, which of course leads to malnutrition. This is penny wise and pound foolish. Don’t just buy food because others buy them, or because that’s the trendy meal of the season, but buy your food stuff to achieve a definite and positive diet purpose. This may not be so easy to achieve, as people unconsciously buy snacks, canned foods, fresh foods. Malnutrition is the condition that results from eating a diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess (too high in intake), or in the wrong proportions. Medical Dictionary defines it as the condition that develops when the body does not get the right amount of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function.
When the subject of malnutrition comes up, some people tend to have this erroneous stereotype of black children with very lean bodies, big heads with scanty hair, big yellow eyes, sick and tired looking, and worst of all of all looking like a skeleton covered with a brown sleek overall. The truth of the matter is that many healthy looking individuals out there are actually malnourished but don’t know. 
Now what are the noticeable signs evident on a malnourished person: The most common symptom of malnutrition is unplanned and unexplained weight loss, If you lose 5 -10% of your body weight in the course of three to six months and are not dieting, it could be a sign that you are at risk of being malnourished. Sometimes weight loss is not obvious, as it occurs slowly over time, you may notice that your clothes, belts and jewelries gradually feel looser. Feeling tired all the time and lacking energy; taking a long time to recover from infections; delayed wound healing; irritability; poor concentration; finding it hard to keep warm; persistent diarrhoea and depression.


A useful method of assessing whether you are malnourished is to measure your body mass index (BMI). This is a measurement that can determine if you are a healthy weight for your height. For most adults a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Having a BMI fewer than 18.5 could suggest you are at a high risk of being malnourished, although you may also be considered at risk if you have a BMI between 18.5 and 20. You can check your BMI using the BMI healthy weight calculator. However, it is important to note that BMI and weight loss are not the only indicators of malnutrition. A person can be overweight or obese and still be malnourished. This can be the result of dietary consumption of foods and drinks which are high in fat and sugar but low in vitamins and minerals.
Malnutrition is caused by a lack of nutrients in your diet. This is either due to an inadequate diet or problems absorbing nutrients from food. Some reasons this might occur are discussed below.
Medical conditions: Medical conditions that can contribute to malnutrition include: a condition that causes a lack of appetite, such as cancer, liver disease, persistent pain or nausea a mental health condition, such as depression or schizophrenia, which may affect your ability to look after yourself a health condition that requires frequent hospital admissions a health condition that disrupts your body's ability to digest food or absorb nutrients, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis dementia - people with dementia may be unable to communicate their needs when it comes to eating a health condition that makes swallowing painful or difficult (known as dysphagia) persistent diarrhea persistent vomiting taking many different types of medication at the same time. 
Physical factors: Physical factors can contribute to malnutrition. For example: If your teeth are in a poor condition, or if dentures don't fit properly, eating can be difficult or painful.  You may lose your appetite as a result of losing your sense of smell and taste. You may have a physical disability or other impairment that makes it difficult for you to cook or shop for food yourself. 
Social factors: Social factors that can contribute to malnutrition include: living alone and being socially isolated limited knowledge about nutrition or cooking reduced mobility alcohol or drug dependency low income or poverty. The best way to ensure you get the correct amount of nutrients is to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
As discussed earlier, eating more fruit and veg, five-a-day is the daily goal for fruit and veg intake. Use fresh, frozen, canned or dried vegetables for variety, and have two portions of veg with your main meal. Don't keep fruit hidden away - a bowl on the kitchen table will catch your eye when hunger strikes. Keep ready-to-eat chopped veg in the front of the fridge.


Also you have to cut down on your fast food intake, fast foods are tasty, but their lack of veggies and high fat content mean they're a high calorie meal in a relatively small serving - you could eat half your daily calorie intake in one fast food meal. 


Less is more when it comes to fast foods. Don't go large - it may seem value for money but it's not value for health. Choose a diet drink, water, orange juice or milk to accompany, and why not try one of the salads on offer instead of fries? Plus, ditch the sauces and dips.


Eating in will also help a great deal. We like eating out, but being tempted by mouth-watering menu choices can boost your waistline, as it is harder to control your calories when your favourite pudding is on the menu. Aim to eat in more often. 


Reduce mindless eating. Eating while you are distracted -- by anything from the TV to your phone -- can lead to mindless overeating. Pay attention to what you're eating and recognize when you start to feel full. 
Avoid snacking at work. Office drawer snacks are treats for stressful periods, but the bigger the stash, the more you'll eat. Make time for lunch to prevent afternoon snack attacks. Keeping snacks at least 6 feet away from desks helps to reduce snacking. Even if you still want to eat out often make smart choices at restaurants. Decide on two courses rather than three, and include a couple of alcohol free meals out as well. 
Now very important but often neglected; don’t skip breakfast.  Skipping breakfast can lead to loading up on unhealthy choices when hunger strikes later in the day. It’s a wise one to keep track of what you eat. Keeping track of what you eat with a food diary, or an online calorie counter, can help you pay attention to what you eat and develop healthier eating habits. Lastly learn to say "no". It's hard to resist food temptations. Unfortunately, they are all about you - from the waiter offering a tempting sweet to a colleague plying you with homemade treats. Try to focus on your overall goal of eating well and just say no. Explain why if you want to, but you really don't owe anyone an explanation for healthy eating. Every bite counts, but caving in to each offer of food will add up, so stay strong!


Last Updated: 30-Jun-2016 07:39 PM

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