Whereas initially, it was important in the process of making sugar, today, the same mill is the symbol that represents the National Food Based Dietary Guidelines for St. Kitts and Nevis. A pictorial depiction of a traditional sugar mill displays the foods commonly consumed in the Federation in the seven food groups of starch; foods from animals; sugars and sweeteners; fruits; peas, beans and nuts; fats and oils; and vegetables. This mill replaces the diagram of a plate used by the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) to show the food groups and the even earlier pyramid.
St. Kitts and Nevis is the 5th country in the Caribbean Region to have completed the guidelines. The cultural symbols chosen by the other islands are: St. Lucia – a coal pot, Dominica – a basket with the national bird, St. Vincent and the Grenadines – a breadfruit and Grenada – a nutmeg.
The eight St. Kitts and Nevis Dietary Guidelines encourage persons to choose foods from each of the groups shown on the mill, on a daily basis; limit the use of foods and drinks with added salt and sugar; use less fats and oils when preparing and cooking foods; and eat different types of fruits everyday. They also include eating a variety of vegetables daily; using less salty and processed foods; if using alcohol, do so sparingly; and be physically active by exercising for at least 30 minutes each day.
The Food Based Dietary Guidelines will form an integral part of the Ministry of Health’s programmes and initiatives. As such, persons who are in a position to use the guidelines in their field of work, such as health workers, teachers, guidance counselors, home care officers, hotel workers and agriculture officers attended a workshop held September 23 to 24. Upcoming workshops will sensitize other sectors of the society on the use of the guidelines. Booklets and additional information about the Food Based Dietary Guidelines can be collected from the Ministry of Health located at The Concept Building, Bladen Commercial Development, Basseterre. Literature is being made available at health centres in the Federation.