Note: This article was originally published on SnoQap
When we hear the word malnutrition, a lot of things come to mind. Malnutrition could be someone with anorexia, someone with a history of alcohol abuse, or someone with obesity. Malnutrition does not only apply to people who are underweight but also to people who are overweight. Sometimes there is this misunderstanding that malnutrition means a lack of food; this is not entirely true. Malnutrition is when you are not getting the proper amount of nutrients in your body. Ending malnutrition can be difficult to do because sometimes people are in denial; this creates huge health problems. A healthy person might say to someone who is overweight that they need to eat healthily and their response to that may be that they feel happy with how they look. This type of response could be a genuine response; perhaps they are happy not being skinny, but it could also mean that they are just not willing to be consistent in having a healthy eating plan. Observe people who are financially stable, people who are living in poverty, and people who suffer from alcohol abuse, they all need help with bettering their eating habits. Thus, the solution to malnutrition needs to address every form it comes in to be effective for everyone.
Sometimes, due to schedules, people might decide it is best to just go to fast food restaurants and get something quick. People who are really focused on bettering their nutrition should avoid eating at fast food restaurants, but why do people bother spending money on fast food instead of preparing meals at home? This could be due to a lack of time, being too lazy to cook, or having a busy schedule. It is understandable that someone who has a busy schedule would want something quick to eat. However when eating fast food becomes a habit, it can lead to health issues such as diabetes, obesity, or heart disease (Kaur & Kochar, 2019). Now consider people who live in poverty. How is poverty connected to malnutrition? When one lives without a home and does not have any amount of money, having healthy eating habits is not possible. Lastly, another cause of malnutrition is due to alcoholism. The relationship between alcohol and nutrition is not considered positive and this is due to the consequences of heavy drinking. Heavy drinking leads to a lack of essential vitamins such as zinc, calcium, folate, and Magnesium; all of these vitamins play crucial roles in the body. (Ludwig Rausch, 2022).
There is nothing wrong with eating fast food, but it should not be consumed every day. Avoiding junk food is essential because it affects the body in a negative way, it can lead to diabetes, skin cancer, and being overweight (Kaur & Kochar, 2019). Fast food is weak in vitamins, fiber, and proteins. Having a balanced diet has been disregarded and junk food has been taking over. According to the article, Nutritional Challenges and Health Consequences of Junk Foods, a prominent component of adolescent diets is the tendency of consuming large amounts of unhealthy food, such as noodles, burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, patties, pastries, popcorn, potato chips, carbonated beverages, biscuits, muffins, toast, and chocolates (Kaur & Kochar, 2019). The detrimental consequences of eating junk food frequently include fatigue, poor focus, and obesity, which can cause depression, inferiority complexes, heart illnesses, high cholesterol, stunted growth, early aging, and damaged teeth (Kaur & Kochar, 2019).
Being deprived of healthy foods just because they cannot be afforded is something that needs to be addressed. When people do not have a roof over their heads and are struggling economically, they lack access to basic essentials such as high-quality food, a healthy environment, a decent shelter, and health care. Unsteady and poor conditions have a huge influence on people’s eating habits. People living in poverty may not be educated on what is proper nutrition. Also, when a person only thinks of getting rid of their hunger, they may not even care about the nutrition of the foods they eat; all they want is to feel full. Now, what about women who are pregnant but do not live in a stable home? Their newborns may also be malnourished. Steps need to be taken to end food insecurity. What can be done for low-income people who lack a healthy nutritious lifestyle? Even if people cannot escape poverty, there should be a way for them to have the opportunity to have a healthy diet.
Drinking alcohol heavily can cause harm to the body. Drinking a lot of alcohol means a lot of calories in the body; this causes a person to not be hungry and eat meals that are not healthy. Worse, a person may skip meals because they already feel full with just the alcohol in their body (Ludwig Rausch, 2022). As time passes, even when consuming a healthy diet, excessive alcohol consumption can interrupt the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. In addition, it has been reported that college students engage in drunkorexia (Weishaupt, 2021). The term drunkorexia refers to the practice of replacing food with alcohol. This eating disorder is mostly done by women who attend college; the main reason is fear of weight gain. This unhealthy habit can increase the risk of dehydration and prevent the body from receiving the necessary vitamins.
How can malnutrition be prevented? What can be done for people who go to fast food restaurants frequently? How can people living in poverty have food security? How can people addicted to alcohol quit and start eating healthy? One suggestion that would be vital for all three situations would be receiving nutritional therapy, applying for food assistance programs that help to prevent hunger, and having healthy food substitutes.
Nutritional therapy helps people understand how they can improve their diet based on how they struggle with healthy nutrition. For example, a person who is an alcoholic may be given a diet plan that includes foods high in nutrients that their drug abuse has eliminated. As soon as the body receives the essential nutrients, the person will feel better both physically and emotionally, which will aid in their recovery. If people are continuously eating at fast food restaurants, one thing they could do is take a look at how many calories each food has so they are aware of how much they are consuming. This may also cause a change in their behavior toward their eating habits and make them want to improve their nutrition. People who are struggling financially or live in poverty can apply for programs that will help them with having good nutrition. Food stamps are great for low-income communities. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can help decrease food insecurity for individuals struggling to eat healthy meals (Carlson and Jennings, 2018). What is mostly great about this program is that individuals can go to any grocery store and purchase healthy foods with an EBT card (electronic benefit transfer), which contains certain amounts of money. One thing that is said a lot about healthy food is that it is expensive and because of that people resort to junk food because it costs less. With the EBT card provided by SNAP, people can purchase foods that are helpful in improving their health. Another thing that can be done is to try healthy food substitutes. For example, when making a sandwich, instead of using white bread, use multigrain braid; and instead of using mayonnaise, try using hummus instead. Healthy food substitutes are a great way to cut down on calories and they can significantly decrease the chances of being malnourished (Kubala, 2019).
What is most important in ending malnutrition is that people acknowledge it and try to find ways to put an end to it because accepting that they are malnourished will allow them to figure out how they can improve their health depending on the reasons behind their malnutrition. Having proper nutrition prevents complications. It also helps people to stay focused and it may also improve mental health. People who are struggling with malnutrition, whether it is because of addiction to fast food, poverty, alcoholism, and many other serious issues, should seek help and become dedicated to bettering their eating habits.