"The value of an idea lies in the using of it."
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A simple and sustainable way to teach and understand good nutrition
Nelson Mandela said "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Similarly, nutrition education is the most powerful means which we can use to create a healthier and a better world.
There is a lot of confusion about which are nutritious and healthy foods. Do they have to be expensive? Do they come in shiny and colourful packages? Are they the ones constantly hyped in the media? Are the imported foods superior? What about the food mom cooks and grandma talks about? What to eat and what not to eat… Yes, it can be quite mind boggling for many people.
Nutrition education holds the key to understand it all. It is an evidence-based and a cost effective way to raise nutrition awareness. It helps to encourage the adoption of a nutritious diet for better health outcomes. Nutrition education however needs simple and effective tools. Inspired by the power of real, wholesome and fresh foods plus how attractive and compelling they look together, I innovated a simple tool – Poshan Nanglo.
Poshan Nanglo literally translates to ‘Nutrition Tray.’ Nanglo is a flat and round bamboo tray, a multi-purpose handy tool in Nepali kitchen since ages. A colourful display of wholesome nutrient packed foods in Nanglo elucidating a nutritious diet becomes Poshan Nanglo. Simple!
Through a demonstration method, Poshan Nanglo also provides multi-sensory stimulation which are found to be more effective for learning. Seeing and feeling the real foods instead of pictures or illustrations can be more powerful to reinforce the concept of nutritious foods. Different senses of the body and both sides of the brain, the 'left brain' (e.g., verbal, auditory, sequential, logical) and 'right brain' (e.g., creative, artistic, visual, spatial, and emotional), get engaged. The result is better understanding and higher knowledge retention. Many schools are found to be increasingly adopting such progressive methods for teaching. So, I figured it is bound to be equally relevant and effective in nutrition education too.
Poshan Nanglo can be used in any setting – preschools, schools, health facilities, counselling centers or community gatherings. Its beauty also lies in the fact that it can be tailored to any local context utilizing the available nutritious foods. It transcends the literacy barrier too. The use of Nanglo, a common household item used by all strata of society, gives it a perspective that everyone can easily relate to food. Participants can be more engaged by contributing food items and creatively arranging the display. This can further enhance the learning process.
Such a display conveying healthy eating helps to promote good nutrition to combat under nutrition as well as to curb the rising problem of overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases. Given the use of foods, it is bound to attract the attention of agriculture and other food related stakeholders which are crucial for nutrition.
Poshan Nanglo is not an expensive tool either. It saves not only the cost of printing other tools like pictures or flip charts but papers too.
I believe that a tool like Poshan Nanglo can easily be replicated around the world – whether urban or rural. Nanglo can be replaced by similar big tray-like local household utensils.
Please practice and share widely. I look forward to receiving the stories of using the tool and featuring here!