EATING HEALTHY; POSSIBLE OR NOT?

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It is no longer news that the rate of health related issues has climaxed in the recent years. According to WHO, “An estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs). Children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the food borne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year”.

Apart from food contamination, the number of chemicals infused food especially some of our individual favorite “Junk” has the market polluted and it’s almost like every short meal is supposed to be full of junk with a tall glass of “what has the potential to kill you”.

From a 2018 Article from the FAO, I quote: “Estimates indicate that today 2.6 billion are overweight and that the prevalence of obesity in the global population has increased from 11.7 percent in 2012 to 13.2 percent in 2016.

If we do not adopt urgent actions to halt the increasing obesity rates, we soon may have more obese people than undernourished people in the world”. “There are several underlying factors driving the global pandemic of obesity. Unhealthy diets are the most significant one.”

We know that our fore fathers ate more of plant based meals with a traceable source for the animal based meals.

Because of the nature of various individuals and careers, people have adjusted from cooking or eating homemade meals to depending on Road side food merchants, fast food joints and various food outlets to satisfy their hunger.

As a Microbiologist, I cringe at the sight of the water I see those road side food sellers cook with. I know that boiling water at 100ºC makes it okay but what about the sweaty man making it rain from his forehead into the meals? Or the young lady with running nose that seems not to be able to stop?

Food processing is a vital part of Agriculture since not all produce from the farm can be consumed uncooked.

So, the question is “So, do we stop buying food because of a few issues that are in existence; knowing that you have to be out of your house by 5AM?” Actually, the answer is No.

But, if you can make your own meals, try as much as possible to do so.

We need to be more deliberate about what we eat.

Talking about making your own meals; there are some mistakes that people make while cooking.

In the process of cooking meals, some people actually eat meals with little or no nutrient because they have removed all the nutrients from cooking.

So, for example, someone wants to cook vegetable soup like waterleaf which will be prepared into a sumptuous waterleaf soup.

Some people start out by “parboiling” it which is done by either boiling the vegetables for about 5-10 minutes, then sieving out the water which is then thrown away and the leaves are collected for the soup. Actually, since the surface area of the leaves has been reduced, the nutrients can be easily removed from the leaves which means that the person would end up eating just chaff.

You don’t have to boil the leaves. Just rinse in cold water and that is fine. It is even advisable to rinse prior slicing; this way, little or no nutrient is lost.

At the end of the day, the nutrients are washed off in the water and there isn’t much left to be fed upon by the consumer.
Vegetables also do not require excessive cooking. You can cook all the other ingredients, and then add the veggies last.

Some vegetables can be Consumed uncooked, while some cannot be eaten raw. Although vegetables are in various groups, they can be mixed together to make amazing meals.

There are various classes of vegetable and they include the following:

  • Leafy green – lettuce, spinach and silverbeet.
  • Cruciferous – cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
  • Marrow – pumpkin, cucumber and zucchini.
  • Root – potato, sweet potato and yam.
  • Edible plant stem – celery and asparagus.
  • Allium – onion, garlic and shallot.

I bet you did not know that Yam was a kind of  Vegetable!!!

Eating healthy can be easy.

You just have to be intentional about what you consume.

If you eat from various “sources” or not as I earlier mentioned, or if you eat more of carbohydrate or a class of food, you must ensure you balance the meals out by eating a healthy amount of Protein, fruits and vegetables and drinking a lot of water.

Growing a few things in your space or compound will also go a long way too. You can grow Tomatoes, okra, Ginger, Red pepper, Scent leaves, Water leaf, and bitter leaf.

planting in Red cups to save space
Growing vegetables in pots.

Eating from your own small garden or pots or cups will help reduce the cost of purchase, help you eat what you are growing and no visitor will catch you unawares. (Ha-ha; I like that one).

Instead of drinking soda or fizzy drinks which have been known to contain some unhealthy stuffs like refined sugar, you can make your own drink such as purple Hibiscus also popularly known as Zobo which is also known to help your liver function properly, has a number of antibacterial properties, helps to reduce body temperature (so it can be helpful during hot seasons) and It helps lessen the pain during the menstrual period; Amazing right? (Yeah, I know).

Hibiscus drink also known as Zobo

You can equally make fruit juices from Pineapple, Watermelon, Oranges and ginger.

Depending on where you live or what you earn, if you cannot buy more than a fruit, eat the one you can afford and be intentional about it.

Everyone can be involved in Agriculture; you don’t have to be a seller or processor; be a consumer, feed yourself and your family while encouraging others to do the same.

This entire article is basically to encourage you that healthy eating is possible. You don’t have to eat just “Grass” as some people try to say when talking about whole vegan meals; Healthy eating is not mysterious.

Eat in small portions instead of eating till the food knocks you out while your round rebellious bulging stomach refuses to keep calm.

Eat 5 small meals a day and drink a lot of water while minding your business.

Cheers.

The statistics quoted in this article first appeared on these two websites: 1 and 2

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