The women’s majlis Proactive steps can improve health

How can the overall health of UAE citizens be improved?

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Each month, Weekend will pose a different question to be debated by a series of female Emirati columnists. This month, we ask Noura Khoori:
What are the best ways to improve the overall health of UAE citizens?
It is every individual's responsibility to seek sound information and educate themselves on all health levels. Building a strong foundation of knowledge is of utmost importance; this is to avoid being swayed by inferior health trends and subsequently falling victim to the influence of relentless, misleading advertisements.
Get into the mindset of making nutritionally smart food choices and building sensible eating habits. This starts with you! One predominant "problem" most affluent societies suffer from is eating out of impulse or habit, for reasons other than real hunger (socialising, restricting meal times to certain times of day, etc).
Speaking of society, the widespread prevalence of various food outlets is not making self-restraint any easier for the public. Perhaps the Government, in collaboration with the relevant authorities, should stipulate that more health food chains open up instead of the typical fast-food ones: salad bars and cafes serving whole fresh foods made with natural ingredients will be a contemporary addition to the repertoire of food outlets in existence.
Statistics in the UAE of obesity and type-2 diabetes, often lifestyle-related and largely avoidable, are alarming; it is time stringent plans were put into place to prevent such conditions rather than to treat them later.
Many people erroneously think that exercise is only mandatory in a weight loss programme, and that "thin" people are exempt from it. Physical activity is for everyone. Focus on mixing up between aerobic exercises (that get the heart and lungs pumping) and strength training for muscle stamina and bone health.
Mothers, aim to breastfeed your babies for the recommended two years of age. It is not only the normal, ideal source of nourishment for an infant, but builds into their bodies resilience to common illnesses and paves the way for a healthy, normal development of body functions.
Young children should never be force-fed; parents need to instil in their children the respect for their own bodies and to listen to the cues their growing bodies are giving them with regards to hunger and satiety. Treat foods (for children and adults alike) are just that: occasional samplings of indulgences preferably enjoyed with the guidance of informed parents in the early years.
Besides caring for the physical body, you can do your "self" a favour by nurturing your soul and mind. Simple acts like journaling, meditating in solitude, enjoying the company of family and friends, being active in the community and finding outlets for daily stresses contribute greatly to peace of mind and a general sense of self-satisfaction. Plan your own unique holistic approach to your overall well-being, and put it into action this year.
Noura Khoori is an Emirati homemaker and mother of three children. She is a volunteer lactation counsellor with La Leche League International and a writer of Arabic children's books.
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