JAM | Mar 17, 2023

Nutrition advisor encourages Jamaicans to make better lifestyle choices

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Children and even adults are often rewarded with their favourite treats after a major achievement or doing well on an exam. However, nutrition advisor and fitness coach, Mark Mattocks says while you may be rewarding yourself for a job well done, this can lead to the development of poor eating habits, especially in children.

“This can create a psychological effect on individuals because, after a while, people start using food as a positive reward which sometimes includes a slice of cake or ice cream. We have also seen where people have used alcohol as a reward.

We have portion sizes that we can use certain alcohol, especially with the fact that you are healthy but people use it as a way to relieve themselves for a short period of time from stress and these are some bad practices that a lot of Jamaicans are doing and we are encouraging them to rethink these types of behaviour,” Mattocks said.

According to the nutrition advisor, a healthy diet refers to “the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and fluids’ that can help to sustain individuals throughout the day. He also noted that a diet is based on an individual’s age, sex and physical activity.

Mark Mattocks, nutrition advisor and fitness instructor.

Maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging for many people, especially for professionals with time-consuming jobs which often result in them not eating regularly or on time.

As such, skipping meals regularly may result in them overeating or having far worse consequences such as getting injured on the job if they have chronic illnesses such as diabetes or overeating.

“Skipping meals also allows a person’s body to go into a fasting or starving state and, as a result, it can affect their basal metabolic rate and that can be a problem,” he said.

The basal metabolic rate measures the number of calories the body needs to carry out its basic functions.

“If it is that they skip meals infrequently, for example, if an emergency comes up then, of course, you can understand that, but skipping breakfast or skipping meals on a regular basis can be a challenge. Persons may become malnourished because they don’t consume enough of the calories or nutrients needed, the nutrition advisor said.

Eating healthy on a budget

Not many Jamaicans have a serving of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis because of the cost associated with these foods. In order to tackle this issue, Mattocks suggests that individuals substitute vegetable high in cost with more cost-effective ones.

“You do have different categories of foods that provide the same nutrients but some may be cheaper than others. For instance, if we should classify certain vegetables as expensive, for example, broccoli, and cauliflower, those vegetables would be quite pricy. However, you do have relatively cheaper vegetables such as callaloo, cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers which you can get your minerals and vitamins,” he said.

Preparing meals at home instead of purchasing from a restaurant is another recommendation by the nutrition advisor that people can utilise to save money while monitoring the type of food they consume.

“An interesting fact to note is that lot of people gain most of their weight not by eating but by drinking. The time is perhaps hot and persons go out and they have a drink here, they have a drink there, and the total calories they consume cause them to gain weight over a period,” he added.

The importance of rest and exercise

The fitness trainer explained that rest and exercise coupled with proper eating habits can assist people to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

“As a trainer, I encourage my clients to lift weights to help to build muscle strength. Resistent exercise helps to build muscles and make them stronger. It will in turn help to keep your skeletal structure more upright so as you get older you will basically be healthier and stronger and better able to carry your self around,” he said.

He also noted that having stronger toned muscles can help the body to transport carbohydrates more efficiently around the body. Mattocks noted that getting adequate rest is also important to assist the body in carrying out its daily function more efficiently.


What To Read Next