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The Sri Lankan Diet Dos and the Don’ts

2017-03-08 13:44:49
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Sri Lankans have inherited a truly unique culinary heritage owing to the fusion of local delicacies with cuisines adapted from various countries over the centuries. Our local food is diverse and with time we have adapted to more modified versions of food because of  the foreign influence. When it comes to Sri Lankan food, there is something to satisfy everybody’s taste palate. Not only does Sri Lankan food cater to the taste department, it is also remarkably healthy. We take pride in our intake of greens such as mallung and kola kenda. Regardless of all the healthy food that Sri Lankans boast about, we still find that more and more people are susceptible to diet- related chronic diseases.   


What you eat can greatly affect your health and well-being.There is no doubt that healthy foods can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and various other diseases. Our diet also has a direct impact on our mental as well as physical well being. Children with a poor diet run the risk of growth and developmental problems which can also affect their academic performance.   


Rice has been a staple food for many centuries and Sri Lankans love their rice. We are notoriously known to pile rice on our plates into what resembles a small mountain. The consumption of rice to vegetable, meat/fish ratio is rather high. This undoubtedly proves to be problematic and should be taken into serious consideration. The idea of how much people eat is more important than what they eat. The relative importance of food volume versus food quality has been misinterpreted.   


Daily Mirror spoke to Dr. Anoma Chandrasekara, Nutritionist on the subject.   


“According to dietary recommendations, an adult needs to eat 3 to 6 cups of boiled rice per day to 2 cups of boiled rice per meal or an equivalent amount of cereals or yams. However, Sri Lankans consume more than 2 cups of boiled rice per meal. Proportions from each food group, namely, cereals, yams, vegetables, fruits, animal protein, pulses, milk, dairy products, nuts and oils are not at optimum levels. Starchy foods give us energy in the form of carbohydrates.   


There are three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to function properly. Carbohydrates, protein and fat. The intake of carbohydrates should be 55% to 60% and the intake of proteins should be 25% to 30%. The intake of fat should be between 15% to 20%. These are the correct proportions that we should focus our dietary intake. Your diet should provide energy at an adequate level from carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, in addition to other non-nutrient compounds.   


It is important to follow a healthy, nutritionally adequate (balanced) diet, while maintaining regular physical activity to achieve and maintain good health. It also helps to reduce non-communicable diseases such as cardio-vascular diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cancers, fatty liver diseases, chronic kidney diseases and other various illnesses.   


Incorporating nutrient-dense foods while being within calorie limits based on age group, activity level, gender and physiological status is important and a variety of food within each food group such as vegetables, greens, red and orange fruits and vegetables as well as eggs, meat and poultry should be included.”   


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