We tend to eat more and eat unhealthily when in emotional crisis or uncertainty – a fact well known and backed by research. Research shows that we have ended up buying and consuming more food in the last two years than before. And our children have not escaped from this vicious circle either.
To combat and help parents make better food choices for them, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has launched a Better Health campaign with a new NHS Food Scanner App at its heart. The free app provides parents with the ideal hack to improve their children's health as we begin New Year 2022.
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The campaign follows a record rise in obesity among children since the start of the pandemic, with the latest data highlighting that one in 4 (27.7 per cent) children of reception school age are overweight or obese; this rises to 4 in 10 (40.9 per cent) in Year 6 (ages 10 to 11). Evidence shows that families purchased food more during lockdowns, and this remained above normal levels even when lockdowns ended.
We spoke with one of the key members of the campaign, dietitian Dr Linia Patel to get some insight on how British Indian parents can be helped with their .
"I'm passionate about helping families to eat well, and the Better Health campaign is a great way to help them on their way to improving their health," Dr Linia Patel said.
With a PhD in Public health and over 100 published articles on diet and health, Dr Patel has a firm grounding in nutrition science. Coming from a mixed heritage background, the British Dietetic Association spokesperson Dr Linia Patel has an in-depth understanding of culture, dietary habits and values that are part of the ethnic minority communities.
According to her, the British Indian diaspora's biggest challenge is to keep in check.
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"A traditional diet can present problems to health due to the amount of oil (ghee) and salt used in cooking. Sugar is also the hallmark of both sweet and savoury Indian dishes, and both drinks and snacks can be high in sugar. You can still eat a healthy traditional diet; however, you need to make some smart swaps! For example, eat more fibre-rich foods such as brown rice or wholegrain rotis, bread and cereals, lentils, beans, and peas and vegetables and fruits." she said.
Dr Patel also cautions on the portion size and recommends the NHS Food scanner App.
"So, you can enjoy daal with rice if you are not smothering it in ghee, and you watch your portion size! Keep gulabs jamun, jalebi, besan to a few times a week or celebratory events and opt for or a piece of fruit to complete your meal from day to day" she added.
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The NHS Food Scanner App provides a smart solution to help families maintain a healthier diet.
"Having used the App, I love it. It's very easy to use. You just need to scan, swipe and swap, and you are on your way to making a healthier choice for yourself or your children," recommends Dr Linia Patel.
Families can scan the product barcodes from their shop, and the App will suggest healthier alternatives to help them make an easy swap next time they shop. The App uses a 'Good Choice' badge to help signpost people to in line with the government's dietary recommendations for added sugar, saturated fat and salt.