What foods are commonly served in birthday parties, wedding or death anniversaries, in reunions and wakes? In assemblies, seminars, conventions and other events? It’s high meat, high sugar, high fat and excessive calories.
I may not be that frequent attendee but I have long wished for a time when foods served conform with the Food Pyramid for Filipinos at the least in terms of quality and quantity. At one particular event, the same dishes were served for two (2) days and variety was also limited. For lunch and dinner, fried chicken, beef steak/stew, breaded fish slices and ¼ to 1/3 cup of chopsuey were served. Too good, the fish was not cream dory. Oh! There was lechon too every meal starting at dinner on the first day. For drinks, choices were water, soft drinks and C2 plus pineapple juice on the second day. No fresh fruit except the fellowship dinner. On the 2nd day, there was 1/3 cup of fruit cocktail. On the whole, vegetables comprised one-fifth to one-fourth of the viand. Assuming as would be expected, each ate what was served with the rice and I estimated a minimum of 500 kilocalories each for lunch and dinner thus a total of 2000 calorie intake for 2 meals. Add that from calorie-laden snacks in the morning and afternoon, say 250 kcal. If the person went back for more at any meal or ate breakfast, that would be added to the already excessive calorie intake. But it is not just the calorie intake. Intake of protein-rich foods is also excessive and very little, negligible fruit and vegetable intake. Some may have issues with sodium content too. One may say, “only now” but what if on most days, that’s your diet? Effects are always cumulative.
With cases of overweight and obesity and other diet-related illnesses on the rise, shifting to a healthier menu has long been delayed. Guided by the Food Pyramid for a whole day diet and Pinggang Pinoy for each meal, there should be more fruits and vegetables (5-6 servings total in 1 day) compared to the meat/fish/poultry & products which should be 3-5 servings only. Rice and alternatives are there but the less processed, the better. Reduce if you may. The Mediterranean Diet in one wished for and suggested for healthier health. Go for it, if you may.
Like alcohol and cigarettes, the goods are there. The temptation may be strong but it takes wisdom and determination not to indulge. So is food. The options are there and the choice is all yours. Moderation is the key. Include variety and balance. Nonetheless, yearning for the day when event organizers will request healthier menus from their venues, when participants request or demand better food, when management of seminar and other event venues will come up and suggest requesting parties for better food combinations. Yearning for the day when everyone gets knowledgeable on what should be better. That’s a challenge for qualified true nutrition advocates. Before the pandemic, the National Nutrition Council – Cordillera Administrative Region drafted a healthier menu to be advocated to hotels and restos. Let’s help them.