Being a nutrition student as well as a foodie, it is very exciting to have been given the opportunity to experience the diet of another culture so different from my own first hand. I set myself the challenge to eat Indian food for every meal during my time in Manipal, however after these days of large meals including lots of rice and bread, by the fourth morning all I wanted was a bowl of rice. The local food here is absolutely delicious with lots of variety, so it is no wonder that the tendency is to eat large portions. I have sampled many different flavours, some spicy, some mild, but all tasty and comforting. After speaking to some of the students here in Manipal over the Sunday brunch- the ghee masala dosa was to die for- I learnt that eating big for every meal is commonplace. Traditional Indian breakfast items include: dosa, which is similar to a crepe and after includes a filling such as masala and Idli, which is a disc shaped mould of steamed fermented rice which gets dipped in a spicy broth. Lunch and dinner both follow a similar format with several small dishes of vegetables, paneer, fish or meat with Indian gravy accompanied by rice and flat bread. Soup may also be consumed as a starter. In comparison to the Scottish culture of grabbing a sandwich on the go, lunch is a much larger affair in India. I was also really craving fruit by day four and although I had seen many fruit stalls I had not actually seen anyone eating any. I had the best apple I have ever eaten that day!
After speaking to a nutritionist who teaches at the culinary school here in Manipal, it became apparent that low fruit and veg consumption is a common problem, including amongst school children. Other key problems which were highlighted are the high consumption of sugary soft drinks, the misconception that energy drinks are good for you and a rising prevalence of obesity and diabetes. With this in mind we, the nutrition team for RGU Go: India, decided we wanted to use the school sessions and the event we will be holding to deliver three key messages:
1) increase fruit and vegetables intake
2) reduce sugars intake
3) increase knowledge of energy requirements and portion size.
The school sessions will include fun, interactive games which teach the fundamental movements of sport whilst teaching about nutrition at the same time. At the event we will have an interactive information stall in order to target parents as well. We hope that by the end of the week we will have had lots of fun with the children, increased their knowledge about a healthy diet as well as increasing participation in sport to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.