Food for thought

Daniel Lim

One out of two children over the age of five in Brunei are overweight or obese, according to the National Health and Nutritional Status Survey 2009-2011. This unsettling fact, along with the rising discussion on the dangers of obesity and how it can lead to various health issues down the line, has spurred various groups to enact a change to combat the current trend.

One such initiative was an event by the Youth Club of Zainab Mosque, Lumut called ‘A Bowl of Glow’. It was organised to promote and inspire youth, especially young women, to adopt a change towards a healthy eating lifestyle. One of the talks at the event was delivered by Health and Fitness Nutrition Specialist Shazrinah binti Shazali, who is also the Co-founder of Fuel’d.

Shazrinah spoke to the Bulletin discussing the disturbing and rising trend of obesity and how initiatives such as ‘A Bowl of Glow’ are making small and incremental steps towards a healthier future.

“With nutrition in Brunei, we always think of it as a short-term dietary change, but it’s time to change that mindset into more of a lifestyle by providing platforms and opportunities for everyone to be able to eat healthily,” she said.

As such, other than providing various outlets to give citizens to eat healthily, she explained that disseminating information is also key in making small but significant changes to inspire and encourage the start of a healthy eating lifestyle.

When it comes to eating healthily, some of the misconceptions are those derived from eating specific types of food such as kale or brussel sprouts, and while those types of food are much healthier, they are rather expensive in the local grocery stores
Health and Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Co-founder of Fuel’d Shazrinah binti Shazali delivers her talk. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

“In addition to being a store-front for those wishing to pursue a healthier eating choice, Fuel’d is also conducting various community outreach activities such as this to several key locations such as schools,” she continued.

She noted that outreach activities such as these represent opportunities to share their true mission in helping to build a healthier community which, she expressed, are missing in Brunei.

“There are always talks about which diets are the best and to choose specific food over others, but some of this advice does not apply to everyone and many are actually misconceptions,” she said. Shazrinah touched on some of these misconceptions surrounding healthy eating, especially those relating to eating healthy as being expensive.

As she explained, when it comes to eating healthily, some misconceptions are those derived from eating specific types of food such as kale or brussel sprouts, and while those types of food are much healthier, they are rather expensive in the local grocery stores.

“As they are not readily sourced in the local market, these ingredients can be quite expensive, which fuels the misconception of healthy eating being expensive. As such, we advise people to search for more readily available alternatives that can be easily found in the local market that have the same health benefits but are far cheaper in comparison,” said Shazrinah.

She added that by being able to easily find local and healthy ingredients, one is more likely to be able to make changes to start eating healthy, rather than introducing products that some may not be able to afford to feed their family.

She said, “This, together with simplifying the process of preparing a healthy meal, is what we tell people who are just getting into healthy eating rather than bombarding them with all the various diets and plans.”

In addition to giving talks to help disseminate information pertaining to healthy eating, Shazrinah also explained that she has been looking into various methods to expand ways to instil healthy eating lifestyle outside of just giving talks.

“One of plans that we have been in discussion about with the Health Promotion Centre (HPC) is to help enable eating healthily at school by showing canteen owners how to make healthier food that doesn’t have any negative impact on their expenses,” she said.

Shazrinah also stressed that while there is no stopping what business owners can sell, the main point of such an initiative is to provide alternative choices which can have a positive impact on the change in mindset in adopting a healthy lifestyle, especially among young students.

The change in the mindset of starting to eat healthily is starting to be set into motion with various successful talks under her belt. Many talks were conducted under the request of groups to the company rather than them reaching out to the community, which she was pleasantly surprised by, as this represents the slow change towards correcting social attitude and misconception towards healthy eating.

“It shows that there are people who want to change and want to learn more about good nutrition and how to start, which is a good thing as such a show of interest can help jump-start and spark the change that they so desire. By providing the relevant information we hope to help people step out of what they are comfortable in and to adopt a new healthier lifestyle,” she affirmed.

With healthy movements such as these, along with the initiatives and efforts made by the Ministry of Health, the timing could not have been better to help spark change in societal expectation, attitude, and misconception in regards to eating healthily, which in turn can help improve the lives of those pursuing a true healthy lifestyle.