Professionals and representatives of leading healthcare organisations in the United Kingdom gathered at Leicester Jamatkhana on 9 February to learn about The Ismaili Nutrition Centre, a unique online resource that offers healthy alternatives to traditional dishes.

“The British Dietetic Association proudly supports the excellent work of The Ismaili Nutrition Centre,” declared Andy Burman, the Association's Chief Executive Officer at the Midlands Launch of the Nutrition Centre.

Professionals and representatives of leading UK healthcare organisations, including the National Obesity Forum and the British Heart Foundation, gathered at Leicester Jamatkhana on 9 February to learn about the unique online resource, which offers healthy alternatives to traditional dishes.

“Where the Centre excels above and beyond other resources is in the clarity of its information,” continued Burman. “Nutritional information is presented so clearly and in such a user-friendly way that it is readily accessible to both professionals and the public. We are extremely fortunate to have such a credible, valuable resource that we can confidently signpost our users to time and time again.”

Research-based nutritional website

The Ismaili Nutrition Centre is gaining wide recognition from healthcare groups in the United Kingdom and abroad, and is a useful tool to an increasing number of health professionals.

“As a pharmacist, my clients often approach me striving to lose weight,” says Altaf Vaiya, who was named Young Pharmacist of the Year for 2009 in the UK's national Pharmacy Business Awards. “Being able to refer them to this fantastic website – empowering them and equipping them with the knowledge they need to improve their diet without quick-fix solutions – is hugely useful to me.”

Through the Nutrition Centre, the Ismaili community has made accurate, research-based nutritional information available to the public on a range of traditional recipes. The Nutrition Centre empowers individuals to make informed choices about the dishes that best suit their needs.

For example, a person with raised cholesterol seeking to cut their saturated fat can use the Find a Recipe tool, specifying the amber traffic light for “saturated fat”. They will discover some 30 recipes to choose from, including Chicken Curry, Fish Biryani, Mini Kebabs and Lubia Pilau.

But the Nutrition Centre is not only about recipes. Eating for Health is a regular column written by expert dietitians based in the UK, USA and Canada. Articles simplify scientific facts and figures to plain English, providing culturally appropriate advice. Topics like looking after your heart, fasting and diabetes, student food on a budget, and cooking tips that preserve the taste of traditional dishes, generated excitement among attendees.

“This is a wonderful resource – great recipes, but the real plus is the colour-coded traffic lights, which I think people will find incredibly helpful in helping them to balance meals,” said Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, Honorary Professor of Public Health at King's College London, who delivered the Keynote address. “There's clearly a lot of interest in the website.”

Eating well starts in childhood

During a panel discussion, Tam Fry, Honorary Chairman of the Child Growth Foundation and Dr Gordon Macmillan from MEND Childhood Obesity Programmes responded to questions that focused on the importance of forming good eating habits at a young age. Issues raised included the problem of children eating unhealthy fast foods, convincing food manufacturers to create healthier ready meals and how the Nutrition Centre resource might be globalised to include Middle Eastern cuisine.

“Obesity and its associated health problems are typically reported in such a negative light,” said Rickie Josen, Programmes Delivery Manager at Springboard Charity. “However today, it was so refreshing and inspiring to hear about such fantastic and positive initiatives to help tackle these problems. In particular, the Nutrition Centre's excellent website provides crucial educational messages to help our next generation manage their health risks.”

Try these delicious dishes that were served at the launch: Dhokri, Chicken Tikka Masala and Vegetable Pilau.