RIYADH: Unhealthy eating and fitness habits are on the rise among young Saudis, and maintaining a healthy weight has become a concern.
24-year-old Salam Farid Azam’s weight loss milestones have been a motivation for many people wishing to achieve their goal weight.
Azam’s priority is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. He lost 25 kg thanks to his healthy habits, which were cultivated through his educational experience in human nutrition and behavioral sciences.
Now, he’s on a mission to help others bury their bad habit decay cycles.
Azam created its consultation platform, Sehha W Salam, two months ago.
“Sehha W Salam is a platform that tries to improve the overall health of people in society through personal consultations tailored to them,” Azam told Arab News.
“The consultants will try to improve the behaviors and nutrition of the people who come. They will try to understand the issues people are facing,” he said.
Skilled consultants create an in-depth case study of customer issues. Nutritional meal plans, exercises and a combination of behavioral consultations are then applied, with prices depending on the complexity of a case.
“I am a Registered Associate Nutritionist with the Association of Nutrition in the UK. I could recruit more qualified people with both behavioral science and nutrition qualifications,” he said.
“The most convenient way to reach me is via Instagram which is @sehhawsalam. Consultations will be held virtually on all video conferencing platforms, or we can do so by visiting us.”
Azam started his journey in the UK after high school. He was inspired to study nutrition because he was overweight during his teenage years.
“I thought about studying nutrition because I was overweight (at) about 13 years old. I suffered from it. It affected me in terms of my confidence, my general well-being, I was shy, I didn’t usually socialize. I thought, ‘I have to make a decision because I’m not who I am,'” he said.
“I stayed home all the time and played PlayStation and video games. I ate a lot, all the time, and I was unaware of my health. I used to play as a centre-back, the defender in football, from primary school until I was 14. My colleagues and the football team members (then) told me that I had to play as a goalkeeper – I don’t give a bad impression of being a goalkeeper, but it is usually given to people who don’t give a good impression of running. I felt rejected,” he explained.
Browsing the website and Instagram accounts with nutrition information were Azam’s first source of weight loss awareness, before developing his passion for nutrition in college.
“I chose Kingston University. I did my BSc in human nutrition and I was one of the best students in (the) university,” he said.
Azam completed his bachelor’s degree with a master’s degree in behavioral science at Durham, one of the UK’s leading universities.
“We learned a lot about the behavioral aspects of psychology. Choice architecture is a concept that looks at whether elements are at eye level,” he said. “Changing the position of these unhealthy food products affects people’s choices. They crave these foods when they see them.
Losing weight was difficult at first for Azam, especially without surgery. His focus on food quality, fast food avoidance and exercise have put a positive spin on all aspects of his life.
“After losing weight, I couldn’t describe how comfortable I felt. I started to socialize, to anticipate. I became very confident in myself. I started joining companies, leading them, taking positions of trust, and all that. Nutrition can help people perform at their best,” Azam said.
Generosity is a key part of Saudi culture, and Azam believes that generosity and appreciation don’t always have to be correlated with food – gratitude can be expressed in many ways. Food for him is not always for pleasure, but rather for survival.
“Saudi society is generous and we confuse that with food. I see people offering a generous amount of food to guests, and they treat it as generosity, which is not always healthy,” he said.
“Today’s doll body standards can be dangerous,” he added.
Azam said he places importance on a hadith which translates to: “No man fills a vessel worse than his stomach. A few bites that keep his back straight are enough for him. If necessary, he must keep a third for food, a third for water and a third for breathing.
He greatly appreciates the Kingdom’s efforts to ensure the health of people in Saudi Arabia.
“I am really happy to help my country. Saudi Arabia is doing a very good job at the moment, especially in the field of health. I am very proud to be Saudi and I am also looking forward to improving my community and be proud of it,” he said.