15th SAMAAJ KHAYAAL: “We are what we eat”: Nutrition and Health

The NUMS Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities held its 15th session of “Samaaj Khayaal”- a monthly series, which aims to transcend disciplinary boundaries, find connections and bring to light

issues of social relevance. The session titled “What and how much to eat to become healthy” was held on October 6th, 2021 at NUMS PWD Campus. Dr. Abdul Momin, who is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and Public Health Specialist, had kindly consented to be the guest speaker. He is currently working as Assistant Professor at the NUMS Department of Nutrition and Dietetics. His areas of research interest include Public Health Nutrition, Obesity, Non-communicable Diseases and Micronutrient Deficiencies.

The session opened with Dr. Momin introducing the multidisciplinary onsite and online audience including

students, faculty and management to the basic concepts related to nutrition, orienting them to the food types like Cereal, Oils and Fats, Fruits and Vegetables and Dairy etc.  With the help of the idea of a food plate, he sensitized the audience to the various types of food and their appropriate and proportionate amount to be consumed in a day. Beginning with the “What to Eat”, he moved on with his presentation talking about “How to Eat” and highlighted key practices recommended by World Health Organization campaigns like “5 a day” to ensure one consumes at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables in one day. Similar to this is the concept of “eating a rainbow” which highlights the importance of eating different colors of fruits and vegetables. The guest speaker cited some researches to reflect the importance of a balanced diet and health benefits. He highlighted how non-communicable diseases (Diabetes) were prevalent in higher socioeconomic classes whereas there was more proportion of communicable diseases (like Malaria, Dengue) in the lower socioeconomic classes.

 In between the presentation, the audience members discussed the many foods related myths and cultural practices in Pakistan. There was a discussion around emerging trends in dietary practices like KETO and also the benefits of intermittent fasting.  One of the faculty members in attendance, an Assistant Professor in Economics, talked about the pandemic and related food security issues and questioned the issue of unaffordability resulting in inequitable access to food and appropriate dietary practices. Some of the students of NUMS Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, who had joined online had specific questions related to chemical structures of the food elements, which were addressed by the guest speaker.

At the end of the session, the guest speaker, owing to his experience in a clinical setup, also shared the common medical issues that people present at his clinic and the usual recommendations by him as a dietician.