“Malnutrition can be as common in poverty as in wealth, one for the lack of food, the other for the lack of knowledge of food.” T.K. Naliaka
Snacks for breakfast. For lunch more snacks. And for dinner, ‘swallow’, washed down with your favourite cold fizzy drink after which you fall into bed. Lights out for the day.
This routine is one most working-class Nigerian can relate with. For Lagosians, this reality is further complicated by the heavy traffic that a lot of people have to endure to get to and from work. This situation almost automatically encourages people to eat on-the-go, to sate hunger. It is clear that the modern lifestyle affects what we eat and even how we eat what we eat. This appears to be contributing to the growing prevalence of malnutrition globally and especially in Nigeria.
In every country, there are people affected by malnutrition irrespective of age, class and social status. The lack of knowledge of what to eat and what quantity is appropriate per time is one that continues to plague mankind. In this article, we take a quick look at what is malnutrition and then explore ways to overcome it.
Malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy or nutrients. Simply put, having too little or too much of some nutrients can cause malnutrition.
Malnutrition can be divided into two – Undernutrition and Overnutrition. Undernutrition happens when a person is not consuming enough protein, calories or micronutrients, while overnutrition occurs when a person indulges in excess consumption of calories, fat or even protein. Both types of malnutrition often lead to health issues such as weight loss, fatigue, delayed healing of wounds, overweight and obesity. These health issues and their complications can be grievous and are therefore undesirable.
The good news is that there are ways to escape from the clutches of malnutrition. Here are three things that you can do immediately to reduce the risk of malnutrition:
#1: Control What You Eat
The need to be deliberate with what one eats cannot be overemphasized. When it comes to eating, we should think nutrient-rich foods, first and last. Resist the urge to eat almost every piece of snack or sugary foods. Contrary to what society thinks, this style of eating is not ‘living the life’, it is unhealthy and likely to lead to overweight or obesity. In addition, it is important to control the portion of food one eats every time.
#2: Plan What to Eat
Meals must be planned. The fact that we are extremely busy is precisely why we should plan what we will eat. Meal planning is a real thing. A food schedule helps us plan our meal, cook them and store them for the week. Fortunately, nowadays, we can order the right meals, and even soups online, which helps save the many long hours spent preparing meals for the week.
#3: Utilise the ‘EatWell’ Guide
The EatWell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group, in order to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. It is designed to make eating healthy and easier. It enables us to eat foods from different classes to achieve a healthy and balanced diet. Currently, a lot of people do not know for example, that fruits and vegetables should be component of meals. To start, you can get an image of the EatWell plate pasted on your refrigerator to serve as a reminder to eat healthy meals.
The truth is that malnutrition will not disappear in the blink of an eye. It will have to be eliminated one person at a time. It can start with you and you and me.
Each of us, and indeed every one of us, must be involved. Working together, we can change the narrative. It would require a lifestyle change, deliberate effort to eat healthy nutrient-rich foods in the right quantity, scheduling and planning meals. And we can make it a point of duty to always be guided by the EatWell Guide.
By employing these not-so-secret ways, we invariably increase the chance of defeating malnutrition in Nigeria.
Eneh Veronica Ejembi is a digital content professional and public relations executive.