Thursday, 30 April 2015

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

Have you taken out time to go through the nutritional content of the foods you eat? After my recent update, I've learnt a lot about food especially junk food. Yes, I agree, by Nigerian standard I am too skinny to bother about what I eat. I shouldn't even be thinking of such a topic. However, I strongly disagree mainly because I don't intend to start the battle later in the future. As they say, "prevention is always better than cure". Besides, what kind of a family physician will I make if I don't prevent you from getting a disease and wait to treat something that will most likely be untreatable but manageable like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease?

Last year, a few of my friends went on a weight watching exercise. I didn’t join them, (don’t need to), but I observed very closely, in combination with my experience working in a weight loss clinic and that gathered from my tutors for when I might need it in the future or for when I meet a person in need of it. I have written a few posts on how to lose some weight here and here, however, I realized that if we actually watch what we eat, then we can actually avoid much more than spare tires in the mid-section. Experts say that there are 5 key ingredients to losing weight and they are;
  • Diet
  • Diet
  • Diet
  • Diet
  • Exercise


When I say diet, I don’t mean starve yourself, we’ve already learnt how that could lead to ulcers. I simply mean eat in moderation and avoid a few harmful substances in your diet while adding some others. A lot of African women pride themselves in been well endowed and many try everything on earth to put on a little weight (I was in that band wagon by the way). Somehow, more weight got translated to wealth in Nigeria. Somewhere along the line though, a Nigerian won the miss world contest and more harmful diseases closely related to our diets came to limelight and there was the turning point (for a few).

Here’s what I learnt, as you probably already know. The caloric need for an adult female is between 1400 – 1600kcal/day and for a male, about 1800 – 2000kcal/day. If you intend to lose weight though, you’d need to reduce your caloric intake. The key to controlling your diet is in counting the calories. I have met people who tell me that they eat only one meal in a day and the rest are just snacks. Well, if you belong to this category of people then I’ve got news for you. Let me site a few examples using a few snacks commonly known to many people especially Nigerians. This is because in Nigeria, manufacturers rarely give you the caloric intake on the packaging of the snack. They believe that writing out the ingredients and the net weight of the product is good enough.

Take shortbread biscuits as an example, did you know that each one of those yummy milky biscuit is 100kcal? You eat the whole packet of 10 or 12 and wash it down with a bottle of 50cl coke, which is about 250kcal by the way, and you say you just took a snack. And it may be just that – a snack, because it isn’t filling. But you have 1250 – 1450kcal already and you haven’t eaten your meal for the day. Let’s take a look at gala (sausage), each pack is 330kcal and usually we eat 2 with a bottle of coke for snack. That gives a total of 900kcal that is not your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Chocolates! (oh! I die!) Each bar of 50g contains about 250kcal. Take 2 and that’s 500kcal. Noodles?- that’s 350kcal for each 70g pack, and we can’t have just 1, it has to be 2 with carrots, green peas, tomatoes, sweet corn and eggs. Guess what total that would bring you to for a single meal. It’s unbelievable right? For your information, I was guilty of all these, just beginning to change.

I realized that there are a few foods that don’t add as much calories to our diets and also help our intestines and prevent or reduce the likelihood of diseases like colon cancer, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and so on. These foods are fruits, vegetables and water. Add these regularly to your diet and you would be surprised. They fill you up without adding as much calories.

8 comments:

  1. OMG!!! Short bread cake? Even noodless mehn one got to slow I don't wanna grow extra skin.
    Nice Karen do come around my side too

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  2. Fruits, vegetables and water make for a pretty lean diet. What do you recommend in the area of carbs and protein Dr. Keren. I think rice, and egba are responsible for a lot of extra poundage in Naija. Is there anyway around these cravings that you might suggest?

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    Replies
    1. Yea, there are ways to go about carbs. It is all about reducing quantity. For example to get the required calories, 10 tablespoons of rice is enough for one meal, add animal proteins and veggies to fill up. For any swallow, the size of your fist is just enough. However, we know that fufu has more calories than pounded yam, and that more than garri and garri more the wheat. Just like 1g of white rice gives 4kcal and 1g of fried rice or jollof has 13kcal. So finally, it's down to counting calories.

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  3. A rather timely and informative post, Keren. Didn't realize that gala and noodles packed that many calories. I've never considered myself overweight, but I was told sometime last year by my significant other that I needed to watch my weight. So I'd taken up exercising, before making the startling discovery that doing so could actually make you add some weight, due to the development of muscles. The only thing I am yet to try is a fruit-based diet. That sounds promising. :)

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    Replies
    1. It can indeed be very shocking when you start to count calories. You suddenly realize it's not all about quantity but about quality too.

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  4. I'm a vegetarian, so I eat pretty healthy. :)

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  5. All very useful information, thank you. Let's see if I can work this advise into my diet. :)

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