CONCERNED about the expanding waistlines of his men, Mumbai Police Commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar has roped in renowned nutritionist Rekha Diwekar to help them go from flab to fit. Last week, Diwekar visited Flavours, the canteen inside the Mumbai Police Headquarters in South Mumbai.
Diwekar has made a three point recommendation: First, instead of making oily, deep-fried bhajiyas every day for snacks, healthier options like poha should be offered while limiting the preparation of bhajiyas to once or twice a week. Second, package curd should be replaced by curd prepared within the canteen, because freshly prepared curd will have a high count of nutritious gut bacteria. Third, aluminum vessels should be replaced with steel vessels wherever possible.
While Diwekar has made certain suggestions, she is impressed by the overall offerings of the canteen. “I was invited to give a general review and offer suggestions on how to further improve the nutrition level of the food offered at Flavours. I was quite impressed by it and that it performed well in both the health and hygiene aspects,” Diwekar told The Indian Express.
In 2011 the then Mumbai Police Commissioner, Arup Patnik, started the canteen Flavours with the objective of serving healthier options and axing vada pavs — which were seen as the ‘preferred snack’ by policemen — permanently from the menu. Many a time the cholesterol riddled snack also doubled up as ‘lunch’ especially for men on patrolling and traffic duties.
The existing canteens in most post establishments, including the Commissionerate, were designed to ‘feed’ the constabulary, and officers in the midst of patrolling and daily policing.
In the last couple of years many commissioners have tried to change the menu so as to get their men fitter. After Patnaik, in 2013 the former CP Satyapal Singh had invited the fitness expert, Mickey Mehta, to help Mumbai cops get into shape. Policemen who succeeded in losing weight were also given cash rewards.
According to 2015 data, 35 policemen died of heart diseases. Of this 30 per cent of policemen who died on duty were suffering from heart disease. With the study now commissioned by the police hierarchy, any new suggestions on nutrition are being incorporated while shaping new canteens across police properties.
While the idea of going for a re-haul has been pending for a while, it was the death of a police personnel this year that got the senior hierarchy thinking. “He was not even 40 years old and he succumbed to an attack. Doctors within the force said a timely blood check or tests could have helped,” said a senior official. “We decided to take heed and look at food to begin our long journey in improving attitudes towards health,” the official added.
The second stage of revising menus will see a team of experts looking to train the spouses of police personnel on food that will help to stand long police hours. “Further, they will also be told the menu the canteens stock to help them make better food choices for the day,” said an officer. Little tips like “no plastic containers or crockery, no aluminum on the stove (it kills insulin) and more greens” are being incorporated in the menu.