Helping communities make better choices this National Nutrition Week
As the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness commemorates National Nutrition Week from 9 to 15 October 2023, the message is that healthy eating is a key component of a healthy lifestyle and community. This year’s theme “Feel Good with Food” aims to encourage residents to make affordable healthy food choices every day. The department is joining hands with stakeholders to increase awareness and information sharing on the many benefits of making beneficial choices, and how nutritious eating positively contributes to a healthy family.
Choosing food options which are good for you plays an important role in living a healthier life and maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, a well-balanced meal combined with regular physical activity is the cornerstone of good health.
“The department’s existing initiative, The First 1000 Days, includes programmes of early childhood development interventions for good nutrition, which show good indications of making a positive difference. The department continues to work within communities and with its partner organisations to actively engage parents, guardians and carers in communities and empower them on good health and nutrition for children growing up. For instance, we promote eating and living a wholesome life by not smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs during pregnancy or breastfeeding,” said Dr Hilary Goeiman, Director of Service Priorities Coordination at the Department.
The continued rise in global obesity over the past decades is of great concern with an increase of 14.9% in women and 10.8% in men. One of the goals of the National Strategy for the Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases in South Africa 2022 – 2027 is to encourage nutritious diets. A healthy diet helps protect communities against malnutrition and diet-related noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
“In an effort to reduce processed and nutrition-empty foods intake, it will require everyone’s effort to help make better choices and plan and prepare healthy home cooked meals and pre-packed lunches. Increasing the knowledge of food and portion control will help families, employees and communities understand how fuelling our bodies sufficiently not only increases our chances for a healthier life but it is fundamentally a key ingredient to the wellbeing of our society,” added Dr Goeiman.
Tips to ensure healthier options on your plate include:
- Preparing a meal plan for the week and/ or month;
- Compiling a shopping list for the required ingredients, based on your budget;
- Buying fruit and vegetables that are in season, as these are likely to be cheaper;
- Introducing a meat-free option, using alternative affordable protein sources like beans, lentils and soya which is not subjected to Value Added Tax (VAT);
- Keep salt and sugar to a minimum when preparing meals;
- Eat smaller portions;
- Minimise processed starchy foods; and
- Try keeping to regular meals or snack times and ensure you have healthier options readily available.
Residents can also discuss nutrition, better food choices, healthier lifestyle or dietary concerns with healthcare workers at our many health facilities or visit www.westerncape.gov.za/first-1000-days