Choose Your Portion With Caution

Western Cape Government Health will host various information sessions, exhibitions and events across the province as part of National Nutrition Week which is from 9 to 15 October 2013. The theme for this year’s campaign is: Choose your portion with caution. The campaign aims to highlight the importance of eating smaller portions. With a gradual increase in the amount of food being purchased and served, people have lost touch with what a healthy amount to eat is.  This is called portion distortion. Increased portion size is a major contributor to weight problems.

Lindiwe Mkontwana-Mguzulwa is cautious about the size of her portion
Lindiwe Mkontwana-Mguzulwa is cautious about the size of her portion

The Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha said: “Preventable diseases are the majority cause of death of our people in the Western Cape. Not only are these diseases leading to people dying earlier, but it also means that our government’s budget is spent on treating HIV Aids and diabetes instead of non-preventable diseases such as blindness, disabilities and disorders.  Furthermore, at present the largest portion of the Western Cape Government budget is spent on Health, and not Education – as should be the case. Lifestyle disease is killing our budget.  We cannot continue to provide more health infrastructure and more medication. That is only addressing the results of bad lifestyle habits. As a government we have a responsibility to initiate a lifestyle change so that the money of the people living in the Western Cape can be directed towards skills and training, rather than operations and medicine. We have to change from an ill society to a well society. That is what we mean when we talk of creating wellness. In the next few months our government will be making some important announcements to achieve that goal. The participation of the provincial cabinet in the Walk4Health Challenge is one of them”.

The South African Guidelines for Healthy Eating provide general advice for the public, based on information from scientific research. These guidelines are available from your nearest health care facility. Healthy eating is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy eating plan includes mixed meals, from a variety of food groups with the right portion sizes to meet energy and nutrient needs.

Many people in the Western Cape do not eat the correct amount of food from each food group. They tend to eat too much of one high energy food group(e.g. pasta, rice, bread) which causes weight gain.  Furthermore, they may be eating too much salt or foods that are high in salt (sodium) which can lead to high blood pressure.  South Africans may also be at risk of not getting enough vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat. A portion is the amount of food that a person eats of one food at one time. Members of the same family may have different portion sizes of some foods, e.g. active men will have a bigger portion of starchy food than women, but they will all have the same portion size of vegetables.

“People tend to eat from larger plates therefore the amount of food seems less than it actually is. We need to take responsibility for our health” said Beatrie Zandberg, Head of Nutrition for Eden District. The public is welcome to visit our public health care facilities for more nutrition information and to speak to a dietician, if needed, to make healthier food choices. The public can look forward to a nutrition exhibition at Blanco Library on 10 October 2013 and Thembalethu Clinic will have an exhibition of healthy fresh produce on 11 October 2013.

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