IN its efforts to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) within the Vuda community, the Visesei Sai Health Centre began a food education program to teach community members ways to prepare healthy meals.
Viseisei Sai Health Centre co-founder Doctor Rajat Gyaneshwar said the education program was borne out of the clinic's mission to help the community enjoy good health.
"The major threats to health are related to lifestyle choices people make.
"Overeating and eating the wrong food causes obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers," said Dr Gyaneshwar.
"In the past six months, we have conducted several such sessions where our community health workers have been out in the community demonstrating how to cook with less oil, less salt, less sugar and still prepare tasty dishes.
"When you combine bad eating habits with smoking and drinking too much alcohol or kava, the situation becomes worse not only for the person abusing their body but for everyone around them.
"Poor physical health is bad enough but with excessive drinking of alcohol and kava, the whole family's mental health suffers and there is unhappiness in the family."
Yesterday, the health centre hosted local celebrity chef Lance Seeto who demonstrated ways to cook a healthy and balanced meal.
Mr Seeto also gave cooking tips that would improve the diet of the different ethnicities in Fiji.
"I have been following the NCDs issue in the country for about two years now and it has gotten to a point where the Ministry of Health is sponsoring a show where I can give people tips on how to improve their cooking and eating habits.
"To tell a Fijian what to cook without giving examples would mean not getting the message clearly through to them and that was the whole purpose of the show.
"To show them other ways that they can cook with the primary focus on more healthy food."
He said this was an opportunity for chefs from overseas to try and change people's mind-set and help promote healthier cooking.
Mr Seeto has his own television cooking show on Fiji TV and also writes a weekly column on food for The Sunday Times.