Poring over our national health statistics, the numbers look glum to say the least. In a population of around 1.5 million people, 12.7 % are known to have diabetes whilst a whopping 17.5% have an impaired glucose tolerance. But what’s even more shocking is the fact that between 400 and 500 people undergo diabetes-related amputations each year, which is an unsettling health crisis we’re never at ease to address.
We all know we’re quite fond of our local cuisine and we never really changed our eating habits despite being exposed to the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. We still swear by this culinary triumvirate-gateau de l’huile for breakfast, a shitload of greasy curries accompanied with gluten-laden rice for lunch and an even bigger dose of calories for dinner. After all, it’s our culture, it’s what we’ve always known and it’s pretty unlikely that we will redeem ourselves overnight. But we should at least try.
Here are some guidelines on how to stay healthy.
1.Cut down on carbs posthaste
Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s providing you with the nutrients you need. The dholl puri you’re picking up at Rs12 has 500 calories, which amounts to a quarter of the recommended calorie intake for a normal adult. The alouda you’re gulping down after devouring that dholl puri has heaps of artificial sweeteners that will most likely increase your dependence on sugar. The mountain of rice on your plate alone has 500 calories, imagine adding myriads of side dishes to this, it’s easily 800 calories for lunch. And now dinner, the propitious time of the day to murder your health. Even more curries, this time with either starchy faratas or an even bigger mound of rice or highly calorific french baguettes. None of these are even healthy options and yet we’ve normalized our unhealthy habits, to the detriment of our overall health.
While it’s nearly impossible to extricate these staples from our diets, we can at least cut down on sugar, rice, dishes doused in all sorts of oil and street food.
2. Know your calorie count
An adult man should consume 2500 calories a day whilst an adult woman should keep that number to 2000. In Mauritius, our staple food is rice, and we always forget that rice isn’t a neutral aspect of our diet. A small bowl of rice has 130 calories. Most Mauritians will plate up until the plate actually gets lost underneath a mound of white rice, adding other side dishes to it which can easily bring a mundane meal’s total calorie count to 1500 or beyond. Needless to say, the excess calories you consume will transform into flabs of fat, which can be hard to get rid of if you don’t have time to exercise and many of us clearly don’t.
So what can you do instead of gorging mindlessly on fatty foods? Well there are a few things to keep in mind. Educate yourself on the amount of calories that’s present in your favorite foods and ask yourself if putting your health at risk, is going to make it taste better. It is a no-brainer that fruits and veggies are our best options, and ‘lo and behold, they’re quite cheap as well! Some of you might ask, ‘What about organic options?’, well you’re quite lucky in that department as Mauritius has the perfect climate to grow your own food.
3. You don’t need to go to the gym to exercise
While it’s a major marketing gimmick, exercising doesn’t really amount to much if you whip up your own routine. Calisthenics is one of the easiest, inexpensive options out there when it comes to exercising in your home, instead of emptying your pocket for a gym subscription. A grueling work out of 1 hour everyday can help you mitigate the effects of a bad diet, strengthen your immune system and it can also help you avoid seasonal infections, making you pretty much inured to illness. It is heartbreaking to see so many Mauritians succumbing to diabetes related illnesses and crowding hospital wards across the island. The most glaring reason for this health crisis is our dependence on easily available street food and our indifference to their calorie count.
4. Share the wisdom
All this information is useless if no one uses it to sensitize their friends and family on their potentially lethal lifestyles. Older people are more vulnerable to these illnesses as they are less inclined to change after years of commitment to the local cuisine. But we cannot ignore its ramifications on our health and let the future generation inherit the same indifference that’s led to this crisis.
The consequences of indulging in calorific diets are staggering and encompass all areas of your life, for your health is the driving force behind your existence. Failing to be healthy and succumbing to easily preventable illnesses is preposterous because we have all the information we need at our fingertips and we just need to adopt a disciplined lifestyle instead of conforming to the notion that deep-rooted habits are irreversible.