For a healthy festival

  • Most meat items consumed during the Dashain festival are deep fried and roasted. While this might give pleasure to your taste buds, it is harmful to your health
- Manish Gautam
For a healthy festival

Oct 1, 2013-

Dashain, the biggest festival of the year, has arrived at the doorstep of the country. While shopping for clothes and food are in full swing, doctors and experts have urged people to choose healthy foods, in order to avert health ailments likely to escalate in the post-Dashain phase.

The majority of the hospitals in, and around Kathmandu witness a rise in patients with many non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and heart ailments, after the conclusion of the festival.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Needless to say, the urban lifestyle has been a major cause in the rise of non-communicable diseases. However, we are even more inactive during the festival period. Dr Aruna Upreti, nutrition expert, says we tend to visit relatives, spending hours eating, talking or playing cards. Our activities become more passive, and with the increased consumption of meat and alcoholic beverages, these factors all have adverse affects on patients with high blood pressure and diabetes, says Upreti.

The consumption of meat products witnesses a significant rise during the festival. Last year, an estimated 1 million kg of meat was sold during the Dashain festival. Health professionals and nutritional experts find this data appalling.

Most meat items consumed during the Dashain festival are both deep fried and roasted. While this might give pleasure to your taste buds, it is harmful to your health. Also, the tendency to indulge in meats with fat and skin is equally harmful as they contain a high amount of saturated fat, which increases cholesterol.

“We should balance the proportion of red meat consumption during the festival,” says Jaya Pradhan, associate professor at the Central Department of Home Science and Women Development. “Since 70-80 percent of the calories needed come from cereals and grains, we can reduce our consumption of meat.”

She emphasises the need for a balanced consumption of food containing carbohydrates, proteins, fats, oils, vitamins, minerals and waters. Rice and cereals are a major source of carbohydrates, while proteins can be found in meat and other dairy products. Vitamins and minerals can be found in fibre-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetable products.

“We also need to focus on consuming more vegetables and fruits, which lowers during the festival,” says Pradhan.

Apparently, an excessive amount of meat products leads to indigestion, resulting in diarrhoea and dysentery. While the consumption of undercooked meat, pork for example, has a higher chance of passing on tapeworms, which can lead to serious illness if these move to the brain.

In his book “I am also doctor”, cardiologist Dr Om Murti Anil writes that people have the capacity to consume 200 ml of beer per day. But the consumption of the alcoholic beverages goes beyond that limit, affecting various parts of the body, including the liver and heart. Dr Anil says alcohol can impact the heart, and can also result in stroke. “People generally come in with increased blood pressure, and in some case they have heart attacks after the festival,” says Dr Anil.

Adulterated foods

While festivals are a time for celebration, foods sold in the market need to be chosen carefully, as the government regulating body found many of them to have been adulated.

Last year, among the fifty samples collected by the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control’s (DFTQC), ten were found to have contained antibiotics. Also, coliforms found in water and milk, harmful colours used in sweets, poisonous substances used in fruits and rice exposed people to unnecessary risks.

“The government should ensure that people celebrate their Dashain in a healthy environment,” says Jyoti Baniya, consumer right activists.

The adulteration of food remains a major issue. However, the storage of foods during the festival is also of major concern. People tend to store more grains, vegetables, fruits and meat, however, power outages lead to food contamination, Pradhan says. “Especially if meat is exposed to a colder temperature, the fluctuation in power leads to contamination of the meat,” says Pradhan, adding that the storage of meats in small amounts is better than in bulk.

Dr Upreti suggests taking Jamara juice, the sprouts of grains, as this has a positive health impact on our body. “We use Jamara with Tika during the festival. While the rest of them are thrown away once the festival is over,” says Dr Upreti. “However, this is a good source of vitamins and enzymes. It can be consumed either as juice or soup.”

Dr Anil said that people should concentrate more on exercising during the festival to maintain a stable health. “A half an hour walk in the morning would be a good idea to maintain good health during the festival,” says Dr Anil. “What is the purpose of indulging so badly that you fall sick at the end of the day?”

Published: 01-10-2013 08:46

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