KUALA LUMPUR — Young Malaysians and parents have begun making efforts to lead healthier lifestyles as the awareness of diabetes increases.
SMK Convent Bukit Nanas student Prettyjeet Kaur, 15 said her family had always practised health eating habits as there had been a case of diabetes within her extended family.
“My grandfather has been suffering from diabetes since he was 20 years old and might have to amputate his leg soon,” she said.
“This is the main reason my parents make sure we do not consume too much high sugar content food.”
Prettyjeet said her mother made it a point to always pack food for her so she would not consume unhealthy food sold outside.
“My mum usually packs sandwiches or pasta for me whenever she can as she feels there are more nutrients in food which she makes at home,” she said.
She would also have fruits instead of sweet delicacies.
“If my mum is too busy to cook for me in the morning then I will buy noodle soup as it is an healthier option among the other food the canteen operators sells,” she said.
Prettyjeet said sports activities were also a must for her as it was the main factor to reduce the chances of being diagnosed with diabetes.
“I usually play netball or volleyball to keep myself fit,” she said.
Sri Anusha Vallavan, 14, said she had reduced her sugar intake by almost 50 per cent as her mother was constantly reminding her to watch what she was eating.
“My mum always shouts at me if she sees me eating sweet food as she knows I have a sweet tooth and will not stop at one or two pieces of chocolate,” she said.
Sri Anusha said she had started packing food from home since the beginning of this year as she wanted to be careful of what she consumed.
“One of my New Year’s resolutions was to start eating healthy so that I will be able to have a balanced diet,” she said, adding that she treated herself with fastfood once in three months.
Mother of three Asma Ida Mustafa, 31, said she kept a close eye over what her children ate as diabetes ran in the family.
The kindergarten principal said she had gestational diabetes with all three of her pregnancies, which resulted in high birth weight in her children.
“My parents have diabetes, and both my grandparents on my mother’s side passed away because of diabetes,” she said.
“I make it a point to watch what my children eat, but we do have cheat days over the weekends but in a moderate sense.”
Asma Ida said her children were not given carbohydrates at all for dinner and had their sugar intake controlled to moderate levels as she did not wish to “rob them of their childhood”.
Homemaker Normala Maarof, 56, said she had to learn it the hard way after being too lenient with her three adult sons when they were younger, which resulted in them being overweight.
Over the years, she had started controlling the sugar intake of her children, especially her 12-year-old daughter.
“I used to buy bottled sugary drinks and juices almost every week but now I have stopped and encourage them to drink more plain water,” she said.
“I tell them to eat less rice as it results in more sugar in the body and I discourage snacks between meals.”
In George Town, Penang, Christina Tan always reminds her children to remain health conscious and keep away from consuming excessive sugar.
The 42-year-old hotel director of communications said her two children, aged 10 and 12, exercised regularly to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“My children are aware of diabetes and they are too afraid of gaining weight. My elder daughter is cautious and she is already stopping sugary intake in her diet,” she said.
“We, on our part, encourage them to eat more vegetables and drink lots of water at school and at home.”
In Ipoh, father of four Khairizul Basharudin said he monitored his children’s meals at home and advised them on proper dietary habits while at school.
“I tell them to avoid sugary drinks and junk food. I control how much they eat sweets and chocolate and I make sure they drink lots of water,” Khairizul, 37, said.
“This morning, they had cereal for breakfast, and whenever I have time, I give them packed lunch for recess that is a proper balanced meal.
“At the same time, communication about a healthy lifestyle is important because we can’t always control what they eat.”
Jaswinder Singh, 31, said he was careful about the food his two children, aged four and three, ate.
He said he kept the amount of sugary snacks to a minimum, while ensuring they got the necessary exercise.
“I try to make sure they only take sweets once a week, including yogurt drinks and isotonic drinks. I regularly bring my eldest boy for a run around the field nearby,” he said.
“It’s about cultivating good habits from a young age. I want them to have a long and healthy life so it’s best that they start these habits now.”
Customs officer Ahmad Shahrizal Ahmad Shaip, 37, said he constantly advised his two children about the need for healthy eating.
“From an early age, I try to instill good habits in my kids. I tell them that eating unhealthy might get them sick,” he said.
“At home, I always try to make sure they eat home cooked meals instead of outside food.”
Shahrizal said it was important to increase awareness of healthy eating habits among children.
“All parties must play their role, including parents and schools,” he said.
• Also see Page 26