In the middle of the pre-Christmas campaign, the debate about the content that food donations should have on the part of food banks has been revived. Do people with few resources have facilities to access healthy food? And the real question we should all ask ourselves: is it necessary to donate insane products?
Eating to cover our nutritional needs, not just energy, should be our main objective. We can't fight malnutrition by promoting malnutrition
Noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer, strokes, obesity or diabetes, kill 41 million people every year worldwide. The prevalence of these diseases, preventable through a healthy lifestyle, is directly related to poor diet.
Despite these figures, there are people who continue to defend the argument that eating everything in moderation can be recommended. Meanwhile, we live immersed in an obesogenic environment, full of ultra-processed products, very cheap and whose consumption increases the risk of death.
Eating is not the same as eating well
At present, the rates of overweight and obesity continue to increase and are inversely proportional to the level of income. People with few economic resources usually have a nutrient deficient diet with a high consumption of ultra-processed products high in cheap calories, such as industrial pastries, pre-cooked food or sugary drinks.
So, we can be feeding on food that gives us excess energy, but at the same time be malnourished. Eating to cover our nutritional needs, not just energy, should be our main objective. We cannot fight malnutrition by promoting malnutrition.
Food has no magic powers
The false appearance that consuming certain food products makes us feel happier is nothing more than an invention of marketing, in which the food industry invests a lot of money through advertising. We must not forget that people love to hear only what we want to hear, and if it makes us happy even for a little while, much better.
I know this is going to lift blisters, but someone has to say it; A glass of milk with sugary cocoa and cookies is, and always will be, a bad dietary option. As rich as it is, or as happy as it makes us take it. If this mixture has any superpower, it is malnutrition. So the arguments that try to defend its consumption, associating it with happiness or well-being, are of great irresponsibility.
While doctors do what they can by giving dietary advice to people without having the time or proper training for it. Our national health system still does not include the figure of the dietitian-nutritionist in primary and hospital care. People with few resources who want to improve their diet cannot afford to pay a private consultation with a nutritionist and this situation helps to promote misinformation, preventing them from acquiring the knowledge and tools necessary to improve their diet.
People with few resources who want to improve their diet cannot afford to pay a private consultation with a nutritionist and this situation helps to promote misinformation
Making good food choices depends on many factors. People know that it is better to cook their own food at home than to buy it pre-cooked in a supermarket. But if they cannot do it due to lack of time, it is very easy for them to resort to ultraprocessed products that, in addition to being bought ready to consume, are usually very cheap.
The way of feeding is not only dependent on the economic resources available, but it is something much more complex. If we want to contribute to improving people's diet, we must promote policies and measures that promote and encourage the choice of healthy foods, clearly informing consumers about the ingredients of the products and controlling the advertising of the ultra-processed.
Resorting to charity to solve the feeding problems of people with few resources should not be the only option, but if we do it better, do it well. In this infographic, created by dietitians-nutritionists Lucía Martínez and Aitor Sánchez, healthy options are proposed if you want to donate food to food banks.
Laura Saavedra (@laurascasanova) is a dietitian-nutritionist, advocate of real food and advice always based on scientific evidence.
NUTRIR WITH SCIENCE It is a section on food based on scientific evidence and knowledge contrasted by specialists. Eating is much more than a pleasure and a necessity: diet and eating habits are now the public health factor that can help us prevent many diseases, from many types of cancer to diabetes. A team of dietitians-nutritionists will help us to know better the importance of food and to demolish, thanks to science, the myths that lead us to eat badly.
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