I am Generation Equality: Nevena Pandza, nutritionist and educator
Billions of people around the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.
Date: Monday, August 9, 2021
I am Generation Equality because…
Three ways you can reduce waste
- Use food you have at home before buying more
- Only use reusable water bottles
- Reduce plastic bag use by bringing your own tote bags to the market
"My interest in food started very early – my father was a gourmand who motivated me to try new foods, while my mother liked to cook and included me in the process of preparing food. We always valued the quality of food, preferred to cook at home, and shared food instead of throwing it away. These principles have become elementary in my work.
Six years ago, I founded the platform “Nutricioniziraj se” (“Nutritionize yourself”), with the goal to educate the community about healthy nutrition. I work with young people and the community to show them how to enjoy food, cooking, and physical activity. With psychologist Vedina Ajanovic, I co-founded the Center for Healthy Habits that combines a multidisciplinary approach to psychology and nutritionism, by strengthening mental and body health in everyday life, without taboos or stigma. We successfully collaborate with kindergartens, elementary and high schools, associations and companies.
Better habits for better health among
A big part of my work includes improving the nutritional habits of children and youth, because I believe this should be the task of the community and all those included in their growth and development.
Working with young people inspires me – I like their honest questions, answers and comments. My lectures always include an interactive part where we talk about local and seasonal ingredients, create balanced meals according to the “healthy plate” principle, discuss how much water we need to drink every day… We also make quick snacks to take to school or university, and I also advise them on what to eat before and after they work out to have more energy.
It is important to avoid differentiating food as good vs. bad or allowed vs. forbidden. I teach the youth about mindful eating, so they can learn the difference between bodily and emotional hunger, as well as signs of hunger, satiety, or thirst. By nurturing a healthy relationship with food and body, we strengthen their confidence, and improve their nutritional practices.
However, I am worried about young people not being interested in changing their nutrition. Therefore, I teach them that dietary habits should be changed because of health, not because of the number on the scale.
Reducing waste and thinking local
“Working with young people inspires me.”
For many of us, food is becoming very accessible. I want to remind them of how privileged we are to have drinking water; to encourage them to respect the work of small farmers and to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables every day, or to plant lettuce or cherry tomatoes; or to motivate them to eat a home-cooked meal instead of ordering takeout, as well as to reduce throwing out food.
EUFIC data shows that 88 million tons of food are thrown out every year in the European Union. We can all do something to reduce waste of food, money and resources. Before you go shopping, check what you have at home, so you can use the food you already have. Reduce food waste by sharing leftover food and use organic ingredients for your garden. Learn how to read product declarations. Try to have your own bottle for water. Always carry a small tote bag to use in the market instead of plastic bags.
Food is fuel for the perfect human organism. For everything we do, we need food and water. At the same time, we need to be careful and fight together against unrealistic body images, challenges and tasks imposed by social media. The path to improve nutrition should be simple and sustainable.
Nevena Pandža, 31, is a nutritionist from Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she works as a clinical nutritionist at the University Clinical Hospital Mostar.