Eat healthy, stay healthy
A healthy lifestyle means maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet as well as engaging in sports or other fitness related activities.
A healthy diet alone however is inadequate to ensure a healthy body as physical activity helps keep one in shape and free of sickness and disease.
According to the World Health Organisation, only one in ten people exercise regularly and a majority does not follow a healthy diet.
The main culprit is our penchant for junk food as can be seen from the popularity of fast food chains and other western eateries.
Even local foods sold at roadside stalls such as noodles and fried rice are laden with fat and calories.
Thus, consuming these type of food on a daily basis can contribute to weight gain. Overweight and obese people suffer from many health complications, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even cancer.
Hence, emphasis on healthy lifestyle should start at a very young age. Parents must urge their children to eat more vegetable, fruit, juices, whole meal and whole grain food.
Many parents, due to time constraint, usually find the easy way out by cooking two-minute noodles or heading towards the nearest fast food outlet for a quick meal.
They do not realise however, that sets the stage for an unhealthy lifestyle for their children who quickly become addicted to such foods.
Thus, parents can counter this problem by cooking or preparing meals that do not take up much time such as cheese sandwiches, soups, stir fried vegetables or buy pre-packed meals from supermarkets which can be warmed up in the microwave oven.
Dining out usually involves eating heavily and unhealthily. Most of us are prone to ordering deep fried food and oily dishes as opposed to steamed or baked food.
Thus, though eating out are unavoidable, parents of children and adults as a whole should order fresh food and foods that are nutritious and not laden with oil, fat or sugar.
Once a pattern of healthy eating is established, it would be easier to carry through such a lifestyle and for the children to follow suit.
School canteens must be urged to sell only highly nutritious food and fruit juices. Vending machines that sell soft drinks and drinks that are spiked with sugar should be banned.
Daily exercise is vital. In fact, schools should implement physical education on a daily basis rather than twice weekly.
Only the minority are actively involved in sports. Most students are sedentary and prefer to concentrate on their studies, as they consider indulging in physical activities a waste of time.
By enforcing regular exercise daily, these students would be exposed to the importance and benefits of exercise.
Many parents and adults do not allocate time for physical activity. A large number of them work long hours and return home late, thereby depriving themselves of the benefits of exercise.
Parents must lead an exemplary life which can benefit their children by increasing awareness on the health benefits of exercising regularly.
Taking their children for long walks in the mornings or in the evenings is a good start to achieve this goal.
They should become members of clubs which have swimming pools and gym facilities. During the weekend, the family can strengthen their bond by adjourning to clubs for exercise and a healthy meal after that.
In short, leading a healthy lifestyle is a conscious decision. One can ignore that and lead a life that exposes one to many health hazards.
It is important to recognise that a healthy living ensures a longer life span as well as a life free of disease and complications.
A healthy diet can also help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by improving your cholesterol levels, reducing your blood pressure, helping you manage your body weight and controlling your blood sugar.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Mumbai, India