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Friday, 21 December 2012 11:19

Food - Beware of festive periods

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Festivities mean food for most of us! 'Fast-Food,' barbecue, rich meals, among others, will top the festivities menu.
Thus, the officers of the Ministry of Health are already on the alert about the poor nutrition of Mauritians during the holidays. Shahina Aboobakar, ‘Regional Public Health Superintendent’ and Anju Gowreesunkur, nutritionist at the Ministry of Health, were last Tuesday invited on the Radio Plus programme « Xplik ou K Santé ». The latter commented on the change of eating habits of the Mauritians during the holiday season.

"The routine changes completely. People no longer eat at a fixed time. In addition, the person's body is used to a certain amount of food. But during this festive season, people tend to consume more calories, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks. Mauritians will also eat less balanced meals than usual. Besides the fact that they drink less water, many Mauritians consume fatty foods such as fried foods," said the nutritionist.

Dr Aboobakar warned consumers against 'fast food'. "During the holidays, meals are not homemade. This is due to a lack of time or while out shopping. There are many precautions to take because those are 'High Risk Food", she argued. In addition, the nutritionist warned about the mayonnaise on the streets. "If the mayonnaise is exposed to the sun all day, a person might get food poisoning. In addition, he/she will be dehydrated through vomiting and will have stomach trouble. Mauritians need to know what they eat," confided Anju Gowreesunkur.

Regarding barbecues, the two Health officers warned the public against the risk of food poisoning. "The barbecue can be burnt on the outside but is still raw inside. This may present a risk of poisoning," said Gowreesunkur. For her part, Dr Aboobakar says there is a big difference between barbecues that are prepared at home and those sold on the streets.

"On the streets, the barbecues are exposed to dust, bacteria and flies that transmit several diseases. Raw meat is contaminated meat, especially if it is not well prepared," she said.
The nutritionist also laid stress on consuming salads and vegetables. "It is recommended to eat fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C, which is good for health. All vegetables are rich in minerals and it has been found for some time that Mauritians do not eat enough vegetables and salads. Having a healthy lifestyle and a good meal, it's to stay healthy."

Regarding sanctions against ' Fast Food' merchants, they asserted that the Ministry of Health operates 13 health departments across the country and several 'check-ups' are effected regularly and samples are analysed in the laboratory at the Government Analysis Division, at Réduit.

What does eating well mean?
Eat well, to adopt a balanced and varied diet, that is to eat everything but in a suitable amount. This consists of favouring foods that are beneficial to our health (fruits, vegetables, starches, fish) and limit consumption of sugary foods (sweets, sugary drinks), salt (cakes appetisers, chips) and fat (meat, butter, cream).
This balanced diet cannot be built over a meal or in a day but over several days or even weeks. Thus, on certain occasions, a festive meal can be offset with lighter meals later. Combined with regular physical activity, adequate nutrition helps limit weight gain but also a number of health problems such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis.
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