Nutrition

Nutritional Balance: A Healthy lifestyle

Haya Al-Ali / Clinical Dietitian
Hamad Medical Corporation
23 November, 2017

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In the past few years, there has been an increase in obesity in Qatar. Such an increase affects our daily lives, health and well-being which will eventually cause a higher burden on our children and the health system. Many people in Doha lead an inactive lifestyle, have poor food choices and suffer from lack of sleep. These three elements are found to have long term effects on a person’s health which are related to chronic diseases (i.e. cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis). However, these diseases can be prevented through adopting three simple alternatives.

We can choose alternatives to a healthier lifestyle which are: smart decision making in meals, physical activity, and sleeping early!

Nutrition and Smart Decisions

Having a balanced diet includes eating a variety of food with moderation to give your body the nutrients required for a longer and healthier life. A balanced diet means regulating the intake of the following six food groups: cereals and starchy vegetables; vegetables; fruits; legumes; milk, dairy products and alternatives; fish, poultry, meat and alternatives.

 Cereals and starchy vegetables

Whole grains such as wheat flour, brown rice, jareesh, whole oats, whole wheat pasta and harees are better option than refined grains .Reading food label will help you to make smarter decision, while purchasing  make sure  whole grain or whole wheat is on the first of ingredient list, checking Percent Daily Value (%DV) of salt, sugar and fat to make sure it is lower than 5% and not higher than 20%.

Fruits and vegetables

It’s recommend to eat a variation of fruits 2-4 serving daily which rich in vitamin and minerals which  will help you in  lowering  risk of heart disease, obesity and some types of cancers. Vegetables have similar beneficial effect of fruits aim for 3-5 servings of a variety of vegetables every day.

Legumes

Chickpeas, beans, peas and lentils are good source of soluble fiber and good substitute of animal protein .Fiber helps to stabilizing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol level plus it will help in lowering risk of colon cancer.

Milk, dairy products and alternatives

This food group rich in calcium and vitamin D which will help to strength your bone, it’s recommended for adult to take 2-3 serving of low fat milk or dairy product.

Fish, poultry, meat and alternatives

Fish, poultry, meat are high source of protein, zinc and vitamin B12 which what our body need to build and repair tissues. They are the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It is recommended to avoid frying food. Fish, poultry, and meat can be grilled, roasted and boild. It is also advised to eat fish at least twice a week. It is also required to remove the poultry skin before cooking and cut lean of meat.

How to Balance?

“My plate” is an approach outlined by the Qatar Dietary Guidelines, the plate gives an idea on the suggested proportion of food to be consumed daily. It focuses on various food choices and suggests the quantity of food for each of the above mentioned food group. Foods high in sugar, salt and fat should be limited.

Food preparation plays a role in our food choices as well. Grilling, boiling, roasting, and baking are healthier options than frying. Staying hydrated is also key in a healthy diet. Drinking about 8-12 cups of water can help your body stay hydrated.

This creates a diversity of high quality food choices that lead to healthy eating. It can benefit the body through lowering risk of blood pressure, blood sugar and increasing the needed good cholesterol (HDL).

However, keep in mind the other 2 elements in addition to nutrition for a healthier lifestyle!

1. Physical activity

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical activity is defined as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure”. This means just by engaging yourself in any 30 minutes activity for 5 times a week, you can reduce health risks (i.e. type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and stress). These activities can range from using the stairs to going to the gym.

2. Sleeping pattern

Studies show that adults need to sleep 7-9 hours in order to control obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infections and mood problems. Try to reduce caffeine consumption to 300-400 mg/day which is equivalent to 3-4 cups. It is best to consume caffeine during the morning.

To conclude, majority of people dream to have the perfect body to increase their self- esteem, to live healthier and longer. The only way to achieve this dream is by improving health through monitoring nutrition, increasing physical activity, and sleeping well. These better decisions can be engaged in our daily life which can help in an immense improvement, better performance and healthier lifestyle. 

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