Nutrition Science Education for Home-Makers

Author: 
Dr. S. Ganesan Regional Director, IGNOU

As per medical sciences, the good health indicators are many and we also normally come to know those quantitative data through master health check-ups. In simple way, we can ourselves know the status of health in day-today activities.  For example, while
• Not able to eat all eatable items as per our wish (food restriction)
• Giving order for tea / coffee in a hotel  ( blood sugar)
• Not able to eat outside food at functions / hotels (stomach upset)
• Taking tablets before taking food or after taking food (health maintenance through medicines)
• Week tooth / gums forces to avoid hard items / non-vegetarian items (dental  problems)
• Avoiding  some of the food items consciously (allergy)
• Availing frequent leave for office / college  (immunity level)
• Visiting hospitals quite often (sensitivity)
• Counting the number (quantitative) of tablets consumed in a day  (medicine dependency)
You can also easily add some more points to this list,  based on you day-today observations of others.   The second side of the health coin is ‘fitness’.  It is also directly or indirectly reflects the health status.  Following are some of the fitness indicators:
• Not able to claim first or second floor through stair case (stamina or breathe capacity)
• Ability to run to catch town bus / train (body flexibility)
• Ability to carry 10-15 Kg luggage bags at airport  / railway station (hand strength)
• Ability to stand in a long queue  (leg strength)
• Independency  to  move the gas cylinder from main door to kitchen ( back pain)
• Carrying capacity of vegetable bag (5-6 Kgs) at Jangalighat Sunday market for 30-40 minutes  (holding power)
• Ability to pull centre-stand for your bike / scooter (pulling power)
• Ability to kick the bike, when battery start fails ( kicking power)
• Ability to use Indian toilet  (knee power)
• Ability to sit on the floor and get-up from floor (joints power)
Again, you can add more to this list based on your own experiences of fitness.  The state of independency to carryout day-today activities sows sign of health and fitness.  In other words, to do our work independently needs good health and equipping the physical fitness is next step for normal life.  Your age can easily be inferred from your level of dependency on others.  Remember the old saying: self-help is the best-help.

Eat Adequately Cereal, Pulses, Milk
Eat Liberally Vegetables, Fruits
Eat Moderately Eggs, Flesh Foods
Eat Sparingly  Fat, Oils, Sugars

We all know EMI, as a facility in our purchases / loans.  A similar terminology, BMI (Body Mass Index) = weight in Kg / height in meter2, is very popular now in health sector.  Having learned about the status of health and physical fitness, what is to be done next?  To maintain good health, free from medicines and for minimum physical fitness, we need nutritious food.   The nutrition science provides us the basic knowledge on the role of food in maintaining good health.  In olden days, the grandma use kitchen-pharmacy very effectively for maintaining good health of every member of big family.  Now-a-days, the food science, health education, nutrition science etc. are readily available to everyone through open and distance learning system.   For instance, the Certificate in Food and Nutrition (CFN), a 6-months course is available in Tamil, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Oriya, Hindi and English (offered in 10-Indian languages). Such nutrition science educations are helpful for the mothers of school going children and aged parents.  The scientific way of looking at food items gives good amount of insight and self-learning of nutrition science.
Recently, the UGC also banned sale of junk foods at canteens of colleges / universities / higher education institutions.  Some of the state governments are also stopped sale of junk food items at school premises. 
Balancing our speedy life-style with good food habits is a challenge in modern world.  The well balanced diet is highly important for present life-style with less physical activities.  Some 20-25 years ago, our daily routine domestic manual works consumed nearly 1000 KCalories per day.  But, in modern kitchen / home, the electrical home appliances reduced it to just 100 KCalories.  This simple sift from 1000 to 100 KCalories consumption is part of our life-style change.  Under this situation, the nutrition science education helps us to avoid obesity as well as malnutrition.  For Indians, a ‘reference man’ is between 20-39 years of age, with 60 Kg weight, needs 2875 Kcal per day.  Similarly, the ‘reference women’ of 20-39 years, with 50 Kg body weight is used in Indian context needs 2225Kcal per day for moderate work.  Being so, to balance our diet   and to avoid risk of excess or deficiency in our daily intakes, the conscious knowledge of food science is important for everyone.  The correct, real scientific knowledge of food items can only save us from misconception or prejudices. Besides commonly known B.Sc., M.Sc., in Home Science, there are many nutrition science courses offered in open and distance learning system.  For example, the IGNOU offers Certificate in Food & Nutrition (CFN), Diploma in Nutrition & Health Education (DNHE), M.Sc., Dietics and Food Service Management (DFSM) etc.

MSCDFSM addresses the needs of training work force/developing manpower (dietitians, nutrition counsellors, food service managers etc) for the emerging employment sector (hospital/community dietetics, food service management). It will offer unique opportunity of higher education to enrich their working lives by entering into the market and/or starting their own food service unit, leading to entrepreneurship. It also focuses on upgrading the professional competencies of serving personnel in food service establishments, such as dietitians, diet technicians, counsellors etc. The programme covers: applied physiology, nutritional biochemistry, food safety and food microbiology, advance nutrition, clinical and therapeutic nutrition, public nutrition, entrepreneurship and food service management, principles of food science, research methods and biostatistics, etc.

Nutrition & Health Education (DNHE) is a holistic package which provides opportunities to the learner to gain knowledge about nutrition and public health. It also enables the learners to develop skills in communicating nutrition and health related information to the community. The aim of the programme is to develop a knowledge base in areas of nutrition and public health, promote awareness about concepts and principles in communication and their application in nutrition and health education and develop skill in playing the role of nutrition/health educators in the community.
Learners with basic 10+2 qualification and an interest in community work will find the Diploma very useful. It is a professional training programme. People working with both governmental and non-governmental sectors in the role of community workers would also benefit from this programme. The diploma will provide an additional qualification helping them to improve their professional competence and promotion chances.
The programme covers, nutrition for the community, public health and hygiene, nutrition and health education, Project work: nutrition and health education. Project work is a vital component of the programme. Through the project work, the learner will be able to experience the “feel” of working as a nutrition and health educator in community settings. Such as an interaction would provide good insight into the problems and possible solutions in community work. The project will equip the learner to plan and conduct nutrition/health education campaigns and progammes in community settings.
Food and Nutrition (CFN) is basically a Post- Literacy level awareness programme meant for people with basic reading and writing skills. The programme aims to acquaint the learner with the role of food in ensuring health living for the individual, family and community. It includes features like food selection and preparation, nutrition from infancy to old age, economics of food, kitchen gardening, food adulteration, consumer rights, safety and education, etc. The programme lays primary emphasis on nutrition with relevance to present day scenario, cost effectiveness, environment friendly approaches that reaches to almost the entire nation, hence making the learners responsible and aware citizens of tomorrow. The programme contents covers: you and your food, your food and its utilization, economics of food.

Nutrition and Child Care(CNCC) is tremendous relevance and use to all those who need to have the knowledge, understanding and skills, both with regard to nutrition and child development. The certificate in nutrition and child care is specifically vocational in nature, opening venues for employment as well as self-employment. Doing a programme of this nature, combining knowledge and skill development in the areas of nutrition and early childhood non-government organizations working for women and children. It covers: Nutrition for the community and organizing Child Care Services.
Some people visit astrologers quite often for business related questions.  After sometime, they themselves are able to guess some predictions based on the astrology knowledge acquired due to regular visits. At one stage, the businessman himself joins some astrology course to understand more.  A similar phenomena occurs in food or diet practice also.  The self-learning through ODL course on nutrition science education updates their knowledge and helpful for health management process.
Every mother of a family, especially modern young mothers need nutrition science education for healthy India.  The educated husband can gift admission in nutrition science education courses for his better-half, especially during her pregnancy period.  Let all of us focus our attention on healthy nutritious food for  self and others;  so as to have good health youth India.

(The author is Regional Director of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and can be reached at rcportblair@ignou.ac.in (M-8900936718)

Monday, 10 September, 2018