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Diabetes is one of the biggest health problems facing not only Papua New Guinea, but many South Pacific nations, as well as South-East Asia. Virtually unheard of across these regions just over 50 years ago, type 2 diabetes, the form caused by lifestyle factors, is now rife.
In Tonga, for instance, diabetes has doubled since 1973. Among the 22 nations that make up the Pacific islands, one in every four people has diabetes. And across South-East Asia, 25 million people have been diagnosed with the disease, an affliction that can lead to major health complications such as blindness and heart failure when left unmanaged.
In PNG, the International Diabetes Association predicts that between 2010 and 2030 type 2 diabetes will increase by as much as 140 per cent, (from 76,709 in 2010 to 172,000 in 2030).
The influx of Western-style processed food and declining physical activity are largely to blame.
Local diets, once based on fresh fish, vegetables and fruit, have steadily been usurped by Western convenience foods. The problem is that the high fat, sugar and salt in these foods play havoc with the body and contribute directly to type 2 diabetes.
That’s why it makes so much sense to get back to food basics.
The key to avoiding type 2 diabetes is following a diet based on vegetables, legumes, fruit, low-fat dairy products and whole grains while eschewing saturated fats and processed goods for healthy oils from natural foods such as avocados and nuts.
Just a few tweaks to your diet can make a huge difference, as can finding a few recipes such as this one to make the transition to healthier eating as simple as possible.
This nutrition-packed recipe is from the Fijian Ministry of Health’s Wellness Unit.
It can be made with seasonal vegetables from the local market and is ideal for a tasty breakfast or lunch.
Vegetable and egg bake Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a dish with a little oil/butter. Place onion, garlic and other vegetables into dish. Sprinkle over cheese. Lightly beat eggs and milk together with a fork. Add self-raising flour and mix well (making sure there are no lumps). Pour egg mixture over vegetables. Sprinkle over black pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown, and set in the middle. Serve hot or cold. Serves 8 Ingredients 1 onion, finely chopped; 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped; 2 cups seasonal vegetables, finely sliced or chopped; ½ cup low-fat cheese, grated; 4 eggs; 1½ cups low-fat milk; ¾ cup self-raising flour; freshly ground black pepper (to taste); ½ tsp cooking oil (enough to lightly grease pie dish).