Eating Healthy and staying healthy in Nigeria.

Most people give up on a balanced diet because they are confused on how to combine homemade food like eba or amala into their diet. Eating a balanced diet is not an expensive endeavor rather by implementing Nigerian foods into your balanced diet plan will make your healthy eating goal achievable.

Here are five ways to eat healthy in Nigeria and lose weight too with Nigerian food.

  1. Eat less Carbohydrate- The typical Nigeria Diet is heavy on Carbohydrate, a sample daily food consumption might include: Yam for breakfast, Eba/garri for lunch and Rice for supper. Most food guides recommend 6-7 servings of grain products (Carbohydrate based) for adult female and 8 servings for adults male. To put things in perspective, daily carbohydrate requirement for the average adult, based on a 2000Calories diet will be 300g/day. In food Lingo, 300g of carbohydrate will consist of: 2 slices of bread for breakfast (70g), 2 cups of garri (156g) for lunch and 11/2 cups of rice for supper (68g).

2. Consume less palm oil- Palm oil and palm kernel oil are high in calories and saturated fat. Due to the high fat and calories content in palm oil, avoid using Palm Oil when you don’t have to, and if you must, use only a small amount. Also look at ingredient list when purchasing pre cooked items (e.g plantain chips), most chip companies fry their sweet chips in palm oil, avoid these as much as possible.

3. Reduce the salt intake (magi)- When we cook with packaged seasoning mixes, we introduce lots of salt into our diet. The typical seasoning like Maggi, Knorr, Adobo e.t.c contains high amount of salt in them, adding extra table salt to dishes that already contain these seasonings means salt overload. Salt in itself has little to no calories, but Over-consumption of salt leads to temporary weight gain as it causes the body to retain water. Conversely, low consumption of salt will result in temporary weight loss as it causes the body to expel water. It is important to note that salt has no direct interaction with fat gain or fat loss, however excess water retention will make a person appear bigger than they actually are.

4. consumption of Drinks should be watched- We consume loads of excess calories from drinks, as we are more likely to pay more attention to what we eat than what we drink. Drinks are equally as important when it comes to weight loss. Pop (Soda/minerals) should be avoided all together. Some drinks that are perceived as Healthy drinks can also contribute to excess weight gain, a typical 300ml of malt drink for example contains 48g of Carbohydrate, this is the same as 1 cup of white rice. The point isn’t that you shouldn’t consume health drinks (malts and juices), but do not neglect the calories in these drinks when it comes to your daily diet.

5.Choose Meat Wisely- It is extremely difficult for Nigerians to ignore red meat; it is a staple in most soups and sauces. If you must eat red meat, make sure to trim off as much excess fat as possible. The recommended red meat option for dieter is goat meat; goat meat is comparable to beef in protein but contains 50% less calories and significantly less fat.

And carry out daily exercise, to keep body fit.

To create a menu for the week or month, you need to understand the classes of nutrients below:

Carbohydrates-They are an excellent source of energy and should comprise sixty percent of a person’s diet.
Sources of carbohydrate: Wheat, maize, corn, millet, oats, rice, flour, pasta or noodles, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, sugar, eba, amala and popcorn are all sources of carbohydrate.

Vitamins-There are so many essential vitamins today, but your focus should be directed on the intake of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B, and vitamin D.
Sources of vitamins: Pumpkin leaves (ugu), orange, sugarcane, pawpaw, watermelon, tangerine and other fruits are major sources of vitamins.

Minerals-Minerals aid with the release of energy from food items, plus they interact with the organs to promote growth. For example, iron helps with energy, while calcium works towards bone and teeth development but the most important ones in the diet are iodine, potassium, sodium, etc.
Sources of minerals: Milk, salt, red meat, fish, potatoes, rice and other foods are primary sources of minerals.

Unsaturated fats-Many people avoid fat thinking they cause weight gain, but this is far from the truth. Healthy fats or those derived from good sources are dairy products, meat, and fish.
Unsaturated fats regulate the body temperature, the absorption of vitamins and help with slow energy release which is perfect for long-distance runners.
Sources of unsaturated fats: Salmon fish, olive oil, skimmed milk, avocado, peanut butter, sardines and many more.

Protein-Protein comes mainly from meat, but dietary recommendations suggest that you get it mostly from lean meat sources. They primarily help with the development of skin, hair, and muscles.
Sources of protein: Meat, fish, nuts, eggs, beans, milk, pork, yoghurt are important readily available sources of protein.

Fibre-This class of nutrition helps to keep your cholesterol levels in check and aids with proper digestion.
Sources of fibre-rich food: Oatmeal, roughage of orange, vegetables, brown rice, banana, apples, mango, and potatoes are all sources of fibre.

Water- smoothie drinks, coffee, tea, and juice drinks cannot provide the same goodness as water. Suggested intake of water is at least eight glasses a day to help keep the body hydrated.Propose a balanced diet plan for a week.

Sunday-Breakfast: Boiled yam, vegetable, fish stew, beverage and water.
Lunch: Jollof rice, plantain, meat/chicken in fried pepper and water.
Dinner: Sweet potatoes, egg with vegetables and water.
Monday-Breakfast: Bread, peanut butter, tea and water.
Lunch: Jollof spaghetti with vegetable and chicken/meat.
Dinner: Yam pottage with vegetables and fish.
Tuesday-Breakfast: Pancake, beverage and water.
Lunch: Eba/amala, soup (okro/ewedu/ugwu), meat/fish and water.
Dinner: Irish potatoes (grilled), fish stew and water

Wednesday-Breakfast: Bread, sardine and water,Lunch: Pounded yam, soup (ogbono/egusi), shaki/meat and water.
Dinner: Spaghetti and corn beef stew
Thursday-Breakfast: Breakfast cereal, milk and water
Lunch: Beans pottage with boiled yam and water
Dinner: White rice, vegetable sauce, plantain and chicken
Friday-Breakfast: Bread, pepper stew, meat/chicken and water
Lunch: Concoction rice with shredded fish or saki or pomo, water and apple
Dinner: Yam pottage with vegetable and meat/turkey
Saturday-Breakfast: Moi moi, pap, water and watermelon/pineapple
Lunch: Pounded yam, water and ofe nsala
Dinner: Macaroni with mixed vegetables, meat/fish, water and any fruit.

The key to a balanced diet is incorporating each class of food as much as possible in a day’s meal.

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