Amina Mujib Khan is one of the renowned nutritionists of the country with several awards under her belt including Award from Dar-ul -Sukun ATE. She is also one of the Ponds Miracle Women 2014. She has appeared in numerous morning shows as a wellness and nutrition expert. She also is the author of her own cookbook. She is currently working as a nutrition & weight loss consultant at a private hospital in Karachi. This week You! talks to Amina Mujib Khan regarding what role a nutritionist can play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle...
You! Who is a nutritionist?
Amina Mujib Khan: A nutritionist is a person who advises individuals on matters of food in relation to growth, impact and maintenance of human health. Our job is to simply advise people on what to eat in order to lead a nourished lifestyle or help the person achieve a specific health related goal to avoid malnutrition.
You! What qualifications are required to become a nutritionist?
AMK: A certified Clinical Nutritionist Degree would be a good fit.
You! Why must one go to a nutritionist?
AMK: If an individual wants to live a healthy life I feel it is very important for them to visit a qualified nutritionist. Many people, in Pakistan especially, don’t understand the need of nutritionists as so many nutritional plans are easily accessible to them online. But are all these plans tailored to their specific needs? The answer is no. People don’t understand how dangerous this can be. A nutritionist will provide them with a personalised diet plan, keeping in mind their medical history and body’s requirement at that stage.
You! How many calories are required for a normal woman in her 30s? Do calories vary as one ages?
AMK: A woman in her 30s will need about 1800 to 2200 calories daily. Yes, calories do vary as one ages. A woman needs lesser calorie intake as she gets older. This is because the muscle mass decreases which causes the metabolism to slow down.
You! What do you suggest, or what is healthier? - Three big meals or several small meals a day?
AMK: I would suggest eating several small meals a day as long as it’s healthy. Smaller meals tend to prevent the metabolism from slowing down and control the blood sugar in the body. This will not only help reduce hunger pangs and control junk food cravings but it will also prevent one from overeating.
You! Do you emphasise on eating breakfast?
AMK: Absolutely! I am a true believer of breakfast being the most important meal of the day and I always advise my clients not to skip it if they are looking to start a healthier lifestyle. An ideal breakfast should have fruits, eggs, yoghurts and oatmeal. You can customise your breakfast depending on what you like or your morning schedule. Start your day with a protein rich breakfast to get you going.
You! What importance does milk have as a nutrition source?
AMK: Milk is very important for people of all ages and is a complete diet in itself. It is a misconception that only children should incorporate milk in their diet. I start my day with a glass of milk. Many clients of mine are concerned with the purity and quality of milk in Pakistan and I always advise them to buy UHT milk for their daily dairy needs.
You! In your opinion which is better, loose milk or UHT milk?
AMK: UHT milk is a safer and healthier option for every family. UHT milk meets international standards and quality. Loose milk is nowhere close to UHT milk in terms of its purity and quality.
You! Will eating late night make one fat? Do you recommend milk before going to bed?
AMK: Eating late at night is a terrible habit. This is quite prevalent amongst teens and young adults these days. If you eat right before you go to bed, you’re allowing less time for your food to digest which can cause many health-related problems in the future.
Yes, warm milk is better. Milk contains essential nutrients that provide the human body with constant energy through the night. So that when you wake up in the morning you start your day energised.
You! What are the absolute healthiest foods that you recommend eating daily?
AMK: Fruits and vegetables are the most important and healthy foods to eat daily. One should try their best to incorporate dairy products, yoghurt, cheese and nuts in their daily meals.
You! How much does diet really play into healthy hair, clear skin, and strong nails?
AMK: There is a famous saying “You are what you eat.” I am a firm believer of that. Your diet plays a big role in how your hair, skin and nails look.
You! What foods should one never buy?
AMK: Junk food! I know they are hard to resist but one should try their best to stay away from such items. They have no health benefits and can cause obesity in younger children and adults.
You! Should one go for a detox or juice cleanse?
AMK: I would prefer milk over any of these items followed by a juice cleanse.
You! Are you in favour of fad diets like Atkins, Mediterranean or Keto?
AMK: I’m not in favour of any fad diet as it leaves the body deficient in essential minerals and vitamins and is not a balanced diet. In the long run it can lead to risks of developing serious illnesses and diseases.
You! What items does one have to have in one’s grocery trolley?
AMK: It is important to read the label and understand what you buy. Also, go for natural food options for e.g. whole grain cereals and bread, chaki atta, brown rice, a blend of fruits and green leafy vegetables. In the dairy products category, milk, cheese and yoghurt should be included in one’s daily diet.
You! What and when should one eat around one’s workouts?
AMK: Ideally the best time to eat is 2 hours before a workout. Foods before the workout should be yogurt with fruits, peanut butter with wholegrain bread, an apple or a home-made smoothie.
You! What’s the one best piece of nutritional advice you can give?
AMK: Drink lots of water and a glass of milk daily, in the morning or before going to bed. Add as many fruits and vegetables in your diet, as possible.