Session on ‘corporate health' throws light on how to eat smart and stay healthy

A testing lifestyle of rigorous hours, untimely food breaks, plenty of beverages that must be downed to keep company at a corporate party… that's plenty of abuse to take. But then how do you say ‘No' if the job demands otherwise?

The two-hour session on ‘corporate health' addressed the issue at the ongoing health mela in Valluvar Kottam on Friday. Some corporate employees were scribbling in their notepads. Others wanted answers to their dilemmas such as the benefits of drinking plenty of water. Those with erratic dietary pattern can take heart for there is a solution to it.

Varsha, founder chair of Indian Institute of Nutritional Sciences, who conducted the programme provided a detailed diet chart, from morning to night, and explained why each item should be consumed. A beverage can act as an activator, energiser or relaxant, depending on how it is handled. “When you associate [each food] with a function, people understand why they are drinking [eating] something,” she says, suggesting a simple buttermilk recipe to detoxify at night.

Every adult should consume half a kg of vegetables, she insists. “But is it that difficult? An assorted mix of vegetables, including 100gm each of greens (when cooked it will amount to a tablespoon), carrot/beet/radish; two tomatoes or one cucumber; peas, beans or lady's finger and 50gm of tubers (not chips) is enough to provide the necessary nutrients each day,” Dr. Varsha says.

Such an eclectic mix will provide 13 vitamins, 28 minerals, phytochemicals, soluble and insoluble fibres and water that the body needs.

At the mela, aspiring dentists, lawyers and engineers have each created a platform for the city's residents to understand the onslaught on their health from a variety of sources: tobacco, aerated drinks, attractively packaged salted snacks, tea, honey, turmeric and milk.

If this does not excite a die-hard corporate employee then perhaps a quick tour of the mela would settle doubts. Dental students show with exhibits that much-loved snacks from attractively packaged pouches faintly smell of plastic when burnt and their explanation is worth listening to. Budding lawyers insist that consumers have the right to know what goes into the products they patronise.

It may be difficult to give up cigarettes or ‘paan', but may be there is a way to raise awareness at least among students. So, Anna University's students from Media Sciences and Electronics Engineering departments have designed human organs, which, at the click of a button explain their role in the body and the assault they are subjected to. If all this appears like a lecture on nutrition then it is time to visit the food court. And it is a revelation. From ‘jowar dosa' to ‘millet payasam', there are a healthy variety of dishes to choose from, which are light on the stomach and prevent digestive problems.

Before exiting the exhibition, it would be worth remembering gastroenterologist S.M. Chandramohan's counsel to eat dinner four hours before sleep: “Food in the stomach needs two hours to empty into the intestine. Acidity, stomach ulcers, heartburns, piles and irritable bowel are symptoms of improper dietary habits. Do not self-diagnose, leave it to the doctor.”