Food and Nutrition in Manipal, India
Hello from India. I am in my final semester of the direct entry NP program, adult/geriatric acute care track. I worked as a registered dietitian specializing in nutrition support before starting school at MGH IHP. I am also a lover of food. We have had the chance to try a variety of new and exciting foods, have seen some of what local people eat and what their nutrition problems are, visited a community nutrition program for children and observed nutrition support in the hospital. When we first arrived to India, we were not always sure what we were eating but we have learned a lot. The above picture is a fairly typical breakfast with an egg and veggie pancake, some flat bread, toast with butter and jam and aloo which means potato. We now look forward to eating chana masala (chickpeas in a mildly spicy sauce), gobi chilli (cauliflower sauteed with hot peppers), naan, raita (yogurt and cucumber) and palak panner (spinach sauce and cheese). The only rough thing about Indian cuisine has been the small coffee cups. The nursing students at Manipal University spend time in the community, much like we did. They conducted 24 hour diet recalls for some local residents and identified nutrients they were lacking including carbohydrate, iron and calcium. They then prepared a meal high in those nutrients, served it to the community members and provided nutrition education. The foods they used are readily available and affordable and included ragi (a grain rich in iron, calcium and protein), coconut oil, and molasses (also rich in iron). My favorite part of the trip so far has been visiting the Anganwadi which is like a preschool focusing on meeting 1/3 calorie needs and 1/2 protein needs for children each day. The teacher keeps data and growth charts and all of the children in her class were in a healthy range. Anganwadis are found all over India and feed many many children. I have seen some nutrition support in the hospital but have not had a chance to read about nutrition support here. The tube feedings I have seen have been made out of regular food which was blended to the proper consistency to be given via NG tube. The tube feeding was then bolused. It is very different from how we do things at home but makes sense in this setting. Overall I have loved learning about food and nutrition in India and trying new things.