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Weekly column by Ministry of Health Eat for our health |30 October 2021

An alarming yet quiet epidemic

There is a worrying yet quiet epidemic in the country that Covid-19 has pushed in the background, but that could nonetheless be more disastrous for the Seychellois people. And it has been growing at a rate that can only be called alarming.

Lifestyle diseases
This includes obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure.
The number of obese and overweight men and women in Seychelles continues to increase and there are growing concerns that children are following suit.

Much of this is related to our poor eating habits, lack of exercise, low daily intake of water, and excess sugar and salt in our foods, compounded by smoking and alcohol.

All is not lost however, because YOU can fix it by making a few key changes in your habits.

We are what we eat

Much of these lifestyle diseases are being caused by changes in our living and eating habits.

We have been moving away from our traditional foods that are local and seasonal, and above all, healthy.

We have been eating more fast foods as well as more highly processed imported foods.

We are consuming too much sugar through snacks, biscuits and soft drinks, and we have been adding too much salt in our cooking.

With the advent of television and computers we have been sitting more and moving about less.

And last but not least, we have not adopted a habit of drinking enough water throughout the day.                        

My Healthy Plate

Earlier this year the Ministry of Health's Nutrition Unit published Food-based Dietary guidelines with clear advice on how to take control of your health starting with what you put on your plate, or in your takeaway box for that matter.

The portions on the plate (illustrated above) show what amounts to include:

1/2 the plate should be vegetables, salads and fruits;

1/4 of the plate proteins such as fish, eggs and lentils; and

1/4 should be starches such as tubers, breadfruit, rice and plantains.

This should be part of other DAILY habits which include: 

  1. Eating FIVE portions of vegetables and fruits
  2. Cutting down on snacking between meals
  3. Cutting down on sugary and salty snacks and drinks,
  4. Drinking 8 glasses of water
  5. Doing at least a 30-minutes of exercise such as brisk walking daily

 "Let Food be thy Medicine, and Let Medicine be thy Food" - Hippocrates

Choose and shop wisely

The most frequent reaction to our advice of eating properly is the cost of food.

Our first answer to that, and advice, is that the time has come to PRIORITISE what and how you eat.

Many people are eating too much during any given day, and are often spending money on the wrong foods.

The time has come to take careful stock of what you eat and on what foods you spend your money on.

The time has also come to take food back to the kitchen, and enjoy cooking as a family and involve and teach the children.

The time has come to start appreciating the wonderful flavours of our local vegetables and fruits, and by doing so, support our local farmers and producers.

Breadfruit, which is in season right now, is one of the best and most nutritious starches to eat.

Later in the series we will come to show how our breadfruit, tubers and plantains are much healthier options than white rice, white pasta, and white bread.

 Old habits die hard

We know that it's not going to be easy to make changes right away or overnight. After all, we are a creature of habits.

So we're not here to ask you to suddenly throw out your tin of corned beef or luncheon meat, and to drink your tea without the condensed milk you love.

We're going to work with you through this page to first take note of what you are consuming. Have a look at what are the first little changes you can make to improve your habits and realise that it's for your own health, to help you enjoy life longer.

We're going to ask you to take it slowly, and ask you to please come back to our page each week to pick up our well-meaning information and advice to help you live longer.

After you've read our little introduction today, close your eyes and ask yourself:

“How much do I want to live a good life without disease?”

Then say to your brain: “Let's do this..., one day at a time”.

See you next week.


By: GP in collaboration with Nutrition unit, Health Care Agency

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