Workers require healthy diets to improve their productivity and also protect themselves from diseases. However, majority of them in this country eat poorly, and use their busy schedules as a license to live on snacks, or food supplements they do not actually need.
Head Dietetics Department at the National Hospital, Abuja, Mrs Sarah Abagi said the major problem among working people is ‘snacking behaviour.’ She said when you are not eating healthy, you have a lot of stress and when there is stress, the body wouldn’t be able to cope with it.
She said working people should eat healthy considering the work load they deal with, going through ordeals of traffic jams to get to work, and other adverse conditions around them. She said that when this is not done, people get easily irritated , lack proper coordination, and have low mental capacity to do things at the work place, adding that the ability to think and make key decision also depends on one’s nutritional status.
“The issue of snacks affects most working class people because I have seen quite a number of them in my clinic, and when I ask them what they eat as the first meal of the day , they will reply ‘well I don’t usually eat breakfast’. Most people like to skip breakfast” Abagai explains “ I then ask them ‘When do you eat your first meal in a day?’ and they will tell you ‘ well I eat around 12 pm ‘, and when you a
The dietician said eating in between meals obstructs the circle of digestion, “it is expected that when you eat a meal , there should be a clear three hours for it to be properly digested, and after the digestion, your stomach like every other part of your body needs to rest before another meal can be put into it. So it is like disrupting the circle of eating when some people eat a meal and then go for a snack . This is what actually creates a lot of digestive problems affecting us,” she said .
She said that if you are able to develop a pattern of eating three adequate meals per day, you will actually have no need for snacks.
What is an ideal or adequate breakfast ?
She said such a breakfast should comprise whole grains , cereals like oats with milk, or at least pap which should not be the refined one as that is meant for babies.
“Pap with a little moi-moi and little protein-serving in it , like boiled egg or a piece of fish, or meat or chicken and a slice of fruit. When a person eats like this, it will help sustain the person all morning up to the time that person will eat lunch. A person who wakes up and starts with a cup of coffee and rushes out is more likely to eat snacks before lunch,” she said.
Abagai said people with a habit of eating three adequate meals in a day go for proper lunch and so there will be no need for snacks .
What is proper lunch?
She recommends foods like a plate of rice with beans , or eba with some vegetable soup and a piece of meat and another slice of fruit.
She said: “Most working class people work and forget themselves. They forget that there is time for lunch until they feel hungry, and then say ‘get me coke and meat pie.’ That is a snack and snack is not an ideal lunch because it is lacking in all nutritional requirements except the high levels of fat in and sugar in it.”
She said dinner which is the third meal of the day is expected to be a light meal.
According to her, “It is just like the saying ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.’ This shows that your dinner should be very simple and light. Something with carbohydrates and then with lots of vegetables , mix protein and at least eat a serving of fruit.”
The dietician said while they are not carrying out a campaign of ‘no snacks’, when people adopt healthy eating habits, eating in between snacks will be greatly reduced because it has its own adverse effects .
“When people eat in between meals , they tend to eat things that will add calories to their system than actually eating a normal meal. If you go for meat pie, Sharwarma, or coke and then go home to add probably another cup of coffee , or biscuit, by the time you sum up that diet , what is contained is largely fat and sugar and that is not an ideal diet,” she warns.
She advises that if one must take a snack , it is best to snack on fruit because they do not take too much strains on the digestive system. She also advises that one can drink water and be ok before the next meal.
What is the best way to drink water in the eating pattern?
“When you eat food and give yourself two to two and half hours before drinking water, your digestion will be a lot better. Unfortunately, you find people eating and drinking water or soft drinks at the same time, this is the kind of pattern you find in working class people,” she said.
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