Local health staff lead by example

HEALTH AT HEART: Knysna Community Day Centre staff nurse Virginia Fredericks sets an excellent example to her patients

WESTERN Cape Government Health staff from Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are setting an example for their patients by participating in the Biggest Loser competition, organised by local dieticians and inspired by National Nutrition and National Obesity weeks.

Celebrated annually from October 9-15 and 15-19 respectively, these occasions are observed countrywide to create awareness about the dangers of obesity and importance of healthy eating habits. Not surprisingly, this year’s theme is ‘Good nutrition for good immunity’.

“Proper nutrition helps us fight many illnesses,” said dietician for the Knysna and Bitou sub-districts Darinka Theron. “I love this year’s theme as it focuses on immunity, which mainly starts in our gut.

“To keep gut bacteria healthy, you should eat less sugar - sugary foods and drinks, bad fats, and processed or red meat - and more whole, unprocessed foods like fruit and vegetables.

“You should also sleep well, avoid alcohol and smoking, and exercise three to five times a week for good immunity,” she advised.

Poor diets are among the leading health and societal challenges of the 21st century, leading to disability and death, growing inequalities, staggering healthcare costs and environmental implications. To address some of these issues, Knysna and Bitou staff are starting with themselves first.

“We are in our third week of the Biggest Loser competition, which is open to all health staff. Weekly lucky draws, prizes and a grand prize are on the cards for the individual and group who have achieved their health goal, and winners will be announced on October 29,” explained fellow local dietician Mariè Uys.

“This is not just about weight loss, but also about overall health. We monitor participants with a points system and provide healthy lifestyle information on various topics. We have also created a WhatsApp group for participants to motivate them and share their successes.”

Said Knysna Community Day Centre staff nurse Virginia Fredericks, who is part of the ‘Skinny Malintjies’ group: “I joined because being diabetic, I want to live a healthier lifestyle, and because I want to set a good example for the community I serve as a healthcare worker.”

The group is one of many from various sub-districts who partake in the Biggest Loser competition.

“Members from different departments gather daily to exercise and share ideas because we know it is good for our physical well-being as well as for our emotional and mental health. If lifts our spirits and you feel part of a team. Together we are stronger,” said Fredericks.

Visit your local clinic and speak to a health worker should you need assistance with your weight. If needed, you will be referred to a dietician.