BY Tamish Giri
Ravina, a 32-year-old woman employed in a demanding corporate job, has always been health-conscious. However, her busy work schedule and the convenience of fast food options gradually led her to develop unhealthy eating habits. As a result, Ravina experienced significant weight gain, leading to obesity, and began noticing symptoms of PCOD (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Additionally, she developed digestive issues, experienced frequent skin problems, and struggled to maintain stable moods. These health challenges not only impacted her physical well-being but also affected her work performance and productivity.
Concerned about her declining health and the negative impact on her work life, Ravina decided to visit Nepal Mediciti Hospital in Bhaisepati. After a consultation session with the hospital's dietician and nutritionist, she realised the importance of nutrition in maintaining good health. The medical team guided her to create a balanced diet plan tailored to address her specific health concerns while accommodating her busy lifestyle. Gradually, Ravina managed to reclaim a healthy life and has since abstained from junk foods. Skipping meals has become a common habit for many, and opting for quick bites over nutritious homemade food is leading to significant health problems. Senior Dietician at Mediciti, Ruju Khadka, says people need to prioritise nutritious and balanced meals to maintain good health throughout one's work life.
In the modern era, there has been a noticeable shift in eating habits, with people increasingly opting for quick and convenient food choices over nutritious homemade meals. This change, coupled with sedentary lifestyles, work-related stress, and an imbalance between personal and professional life, has contributed to a surge in various health issues. Among the significant problems arising from poor eating habits are obesity, PCOD, diabetes, digestive problems, skin disorders, and mental health concerns.
According to Khadka, the combination of a sedentary lifestyle, particularly for those engaged in desk jobs, along with poor food choices and work-related stress, has played a significant role in the prevalence of these health issues in recent times. Reports indicate that while individuals of all age groups can be affected, certain demographics, such as adolescents and those aged between 25-39 years, are more susceptible to these health problems. Additionally, women, especially those facing disrupted sleep patterns due to work schedules (e.g. cabin crew and health professionals), are significantly impacted worldwide.
In the worst case scenario, the cumulative effects of unhealthy eating habits can lead to chronic diseases, such as heart, kidney, and gastrointestinal problems, sometimes necessitating lifelong medication. Furthermore, poor lifestyle choices can worsen genetic predispositions to certain conditions. Khadka emphasises that unhealthy lifestyles are associated with various health-related diseases, such as fluctuations in blood sugar levels, difficulty maintaining stable moods due to micronutrient deficiencies, lethargy, weakened muscles and nerves, and issues with eyesight and dental health. Additionally, they can disrupt hunger and fullness cues, leading to further complications.
Khadka says proper nutrition enhances an employee's ability to perform effectively at work. “Since poor dietary habits can hamper productivity and hinder organisational goals, it is essential to adopt a well-designed diet plan that is customised to individual needs and preferences, taking into account factors such as age, beliefs, and health status,” she adds.
Developing healthy habits is a gradual process that demands consistent effort. According to the nutritionist and dietitian, taking small, sustainable steps over time is key to success. Khadka emphasises the importance of incorporating whole grains, fibre-rich foods, and lean proteins into meals while staying well-hydrated throughout the day, as these choices significantly improve overall health. Additionally, consuming a variety of naturally colourful produce such as fruits and vegetables provides essential micronutrients.
For individuals facing time constraints and a heavy workload, there are alternative ways to detoxify the body and promote good health. Limiting processed foods, reducing MSG consumption, avoiding refined flour, minimising added salt and sugar, abstaining from tobacco and alcohol, managing stress levels, prioritising quality sleep, and engaging in regular exercise can all contribute to a healthy lifestyle, according to Khadka.
Efforts are being made globally to enhance and recognise the significance of nutrition and dietetics in maintaining good health. In Nepal, for example, Nepal Mediciti Hospital offers 24-hour meal services tailored to individual health conditions, facilitated by qualified clinical dieticians working seven days a week. Professionals like Khadka assess nutritional needs and provide personalised medical nutrition therapy to patients.
The team of clinical nutritionists at Mediciti evaluates an individual's nutritional status, determines their specific nutritional needs, and provides appropriate, personalised medical nutrition therapy and counselling, said Khadka.
The nutrition and dietetics sector in Nepal has made significant progress in recent years. However, there is a disparity in access to nutrition and dietetics facilities between urban and rural areas. Further development and strengthening of infrastructure are essential to ensure that nutritional education and services are accessible to all throughout the country.
One crucial area that requires attention is the lack of stringent regulations overseeing individuals who provide diet menus or advice without proper certification. Khadka urges the government to establish regulations to ensure that only qualified professionals provide nutrition-related services.
While the results of a dietitian's efforts may not always be immediately evident, they can have long-term benefits by prolonging an individual's lifespan and maintaining overall good health. The nutrition and dietetics sector plays a vital role in guiding individuals towards better health.
Khadka believes one can improve overall well-being and lead a healthier life by prioritising nutrition and adopting sustainable lifestyle changes.