Healthy Living

How do you plan to stay on track with your health goals in 2014?

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By Carol Nambowa

Posted  Monday, December 30  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

Setting goals to lose weight, eat or actually live a healthy lifestyle is easy. But how many people actually stick to them? We explore some of these health goals and their benefits.


At the mention of how to stay on track with any health goals, the first thing that comes to mind is eating a well-balanced diet and keeping fit through physical activities and exercises. Brenda Shenute Namugumya, a nutrition specialist with FHI360, challenges the concept and wonders whether what people even set as health goals are what they should be doing.

Namugumya says people should instead set diet themes that comprise of at least different colours of food on their plate everyday.
The aim of the five different colours is to eat food from all the food groups; proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, roughages, fats and sugars.

Drinking adequate water
Although the right amount of water to be taken per day is still debatable between two, three or four litres a day, most people are aware they must drink a certain quantity of water everyday to stay hydrated.

Weight management
This is another aspect that many spend time planning for, but never act upon or relapse. In order to stay focused with your weight management plan, Namugumya says following these steps below can be helpful.

Set targets
To be able to achieve this, when you set a target, it is important to share your plans with someone else. “When you share your plans and what you want to achieve over a certain period of time, the people you have shared with will encourage you and you will be accountable to them.”
“However, when you keep it to yourself, you end up compromising,” she says.

In addition, Namugumya says one can involve their family in setting health-related targets such as eating well and having enough time to relax. This also helps to instill a healthy living lifestyle among children from an early age.

Regular medical check-up
Some of the regular medical check-ups that a person should undertake include dental care to be able to detect any oral health problems on time, eye check-up at least twice a year, check-ups for breast and cervical cancer, prostate cancer for men and blood tests for example, lipids in fat.

Dr Henry Bukenya from Mulago hospital explains that eye check-up includes tracing for defects to determine whether one is long or shortsighted or has normal eye sight. The check-up may also involve studying a person’s pupil dilation and responsiveness towards light or pain.

“It is important to go for eye check-ups because if defects are detected early, further damage to the eye can be prevented,” he explains.

Other tests
Other tests that people should do routinely include tuberculosis (TB), Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) HIV/Aids for those who are sexually active and tests for heart-related diseases.

The most common STI tests usually carried out include gonorrhoea, candidiasis, and urinary tract infections. However, the specialist can determine the method of testing depending on the stage of the infection.

“Having regular medical check-ups is good practice for everyone. Why do you think schools require parents to take children for medical examination at the beginning of every term? It helps in case a child has any pre-existing conditions,” Namugumya adds.

The older we get, the more vulnerable we become to illnesses, hence the required medical tests.

Keep track of your Body Mass Index (MBI)
Namugumya stresses the importance of knowing your BMI as you keep track of your overall health and weight in particular.
BMI not only informs you about being obese or overweight, it is also a good indicator of whether you are underweight, average or normal range.
Dr Bukenya says depending on age, when a person’s BMI is between 18 to 15, it is considered abnormal. Between 18 and 25 and 18 and 35 is also considered normal, depending on a person’s age, while 33 to 48 is abnormal and above 48 is very abnormal.

Check your cholesterol levels
A blood sample is taken and tested for the amount of lipid content it contains. This is used to determine one’s cholesterol levels.

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