Be mindful of hidden hunger

Around two billion people worldwide suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiency one-third of this number resides in India.

Has it ever happened to you that even after having a full meal you were still not satiated? Well, that’s due to hidden hunger. This happens when the consumed meal is either deficient in vitamins and minerals your body needs or when your body needs more of vitamins and minerals than those present in the food. Around two billion people worldwide suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiency one-third of this number resides in India. The National Nutrition Monitoring Board (NNMB) has time and again expressed concern over the fact that apart from cereals and millets, Indian households fail to meet the desired amounts of recommended dietary allowance (RDA).

Experts vouch that food fortification adding essential vitamins and minerals to food items can combat chronic undernutrition. “The fact that the current Indian food plate does not deliver the required amount of nutrients and micronutrients, food fortification seems a viable, scientifically proven, WHO approved and costeffective strategy to address the problem of malnutrition,” says Vivek Chandra, CEO, LT Foods.

“But apart food fortification, we need to understand the value of a balanced diet, and each household has to take steps to incorporate it into their daily lives,” says Nutritionist Deeksha Sharma. “In fact, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had launched the Eat Right Movement three years ago to improve public health, combat negative nutritional trends and fight lifestyle diseases, but there has hardly been a change in the mindset of the people. We would have had a greater number of Covid recoveries had people been paying attention to their diet. A balanced diet is what makes you strong, immune and able to fight off infections,” she adds.

“Instead of just asking someone to eat a certain kind of food to beat the hunger at the moment, it is very important to educate them about the source of such hidden hunger,” says Nutritionist Shweta Shah, Co- Founder of Fitza (a Virtual Nutrition Coach), adding that each person must follow a personalised diet pattern and embrace healthy lifestyle habits. “Fortified foods are just like the icing on a cake,” says Shah.

Shah, who recommends diet based on the three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha), says studying these doshas helps her make the ‘Health Kundali’ to understand the body type so she is better informed about advising the patient. “I recommend natural supplements like yogurt or herbs to clients depending upon their body type, which then fills the nutrition, calcium or vitamin gaps and works wonders for their health and well-being,” says Shah.

Dietician Shikha Mahajan, Founder, Diet Podium, says that those who exclude fats and carbohydrates from their diet would not feel satiated even after having food. But it could also be due to deficiency of protein, micro and macro nutrients and vitamins.

“Everyone one must have a balanced diet, and include fruit, vegetables, dairy products and carbohydrates in it as these rule out the issue of hidden hunger. In case you face issues, consult a professional. Only after proper investigation, can the exact reason of hidden hunger be ascertained,” says Mahajan.

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