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BN Health & Fitness: Healthy Alternatives to Nigerian Meals



Losing weight can be frustrating after bursting yourself working out and not seeing the desired results. Often times, nutrition is the main culprit. A lot of foods we consume are not ideal for our weight loss progress. Moreover it can be especially difficult to find healthier options when it comes to the Nigerian diet or stick to programs that require you to count calories.

Below are some alternatives and ways to switch it all up:

Replace white rice with brown rice. White rice is a simple carbohydrate and these are refined sugars with little nutritional value for the body. They are also very easily digested and so you crave food quicker. Brown rice on the other hand takes a little longer to digest and does not raise sugar levels in the blood as quickly as simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrate act as fuel for the body and contribute significantly to energy production.
Try Brown rice Jollof or fried rice.
Other rice alternatives include Ofada rice (the original ofada not the polished one) or Abakaliki rice.

Eat whole wheat or multigrain bread instead of white bread.

Whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta.
Other pasta alternatives include brown rice pasta, whole grain pasta

Try the following flour bases for making your solids instead of the usual pounded yam, fufu and others
Oat flour: oats are high in fiber and thus help you feel fuller longer and lower cholesterol
Quinoa flour – this helps to lower your cholesterol levels.
Plantain flour.
Milled brown rice.
Chia seeds ground with quinoa.

Please note that you can actually make your own flour base.For example, buy different types of quinoa and blend them into flour. You can then cook it in the same way, as you would make standard solids. It has a similar outcome to semovita. Another example would be to blend the quinoa with chia seeds, which comes out like Amala.

• Bake or boil them rather than fry them
• Try sweet potatoes

Make them yourself.
Minimize or choose salad dressings wisely. Oil-based vinigarettes are the best.
You can also make your own dressing.

Here’s how to do it.
o Mix olive oil with balsamic vinegar
o Mix lemon, black pepper, salt with olive oil

Load up on vegetables and add some protein (baked or grilled)

Avoid adding palm oil.Minimize your use of groundnut/vegetable oil. Extra virgin oil is a healthier option but always in moderation.

Use lean meat, fish, turkey, chicken breast and avoid red meat. Avoid frying your proteins, bake or roast them instead. Cut excess fat from meat or remove the skin from chicken

Avoid excessive oil.
Limit all extra meaty stuff.
Eat more vegetable based soups like Efo, Ewedu & Okra
Avoid palm oil as much as possible.
Steam your vegetables.
Make your efo like spinach. Do not add palm oil, just prepare with a little oil

Avoid frying eggs regularly; boil or poach them.
Use oil spray to fry your eggs.
Eat more of egg whites.

• Use as little palm oil as possible – if you must use it at all.

Points to Note
Start your day off with meals like oatmeal, egg whites instead of cereals. Breakfast foods high in sugar and fat make you feel full for a brief period and then you are hungry again.

The addition of fresh or dried fruits to breakfast meals can still make them sweet but healthy. For example, cooking oatmeal with a ripe banana and only a tiny amount of honey, if at all.

Breakfast is the most important meal and sets the pace for your whole day. Do not skip it or make wrong choices.

Download “myfitnesspal” app on your smart phones or laptop etc. This helps you track calories, fats, carbohydrates, proteins and all what you consume. They have Nigerian meals there too. You may just need to make some changes here and there but it provides an estimate to start with.

A key to weight loss is portion control. Uou may eat all the right things, but without portion control, this could be ineffective.

Eat multiple small meals rather than fewer large meals.

Avoid crash diets which work for a while but are not a lifestyle thus unsustainable.

Eats fruits and drink plenty of water
Try to pack lunch to work or school instead of having to eat out daily. Snack on nuts (preferably not salted), vegetables (carrots, cucumber etc) or fruits during the day.

Some healthy meals and snacks could be:
*Vegetables with a piece of chicken/ fish
*Brown rice with mixed vegetables and chicken/ fish
*Turkey or chicken Sandwich
*Chicken salad
*Moi moi
*Boiled plantain and vegetables

I wish you success in your healthy living journey!

Lolah Soyombo- Akingbade is a fitness blogger and owner of Christsoldiergirl fitness blog ( She also holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Notre Dame of Maryland University. She has a passion for working out, staying fit and helping others achieve their goals of healthy lifestyles. She can be reached on Instagram – @christsoldiergirlfitness | Twitter – @csgfitness | Facebook – lolah christsoldiergirl Akingbade.

Lola Akingbade is a certified Nutritionist and Weight Management Specialist, Fitness blogger, HuffingtonPost Contributor and Owner of Christsoldiergirl Fitness Blog ( She also holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. She has a passion for working out, staying fit and helping others achieve their goals of healthy lifestyles. She can be reached on Instagram (@christsoldiergirlfitness) and Facebook (lolah christsoldiergirl Akingbade).


  1. Kemi

    June 12, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Great article Lola :)! Looking forward to more!


    June 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Great tips! I’ll even take it further and say unless you are doing a physical taxing job avoid “swallow” you know the all the eba, fufu, pounded yam and starch.

  3. Heeba

    June 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Much as I agree with all your substitution we are well aware that it is an EXPENSIVE diet that cannot continue for a lifetime. Those that do this for 3months or so tend to put the weight back on when they resume back to normalcy. Realistically for the average Nigerian some of the cheap foods can be easily substituted e.g moi moi vegetable and the likes however key is Portion Control!! No need to cut of yams or swallow because you will still go back there…… Reduce your portion! From four slices of yam get used to eating One slice same with bread. Instead of a full plate of rice stick to six spoons ,eba, semo,pounded yam a fistful is enuf. Get used to this and it will bring about weightless and will be the way you eat for a lifetime. (believe wen I say your stomach will automatically be used to this reduced portion by itself.)

    • Angel

      June 12, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      @ Heeba, you said it all…in reality the best thing to do as per healthy eating, is to reduce the portion shikena! cos most peeps find it difficult to follow a particular diet pattern, most Nigerian food are not really bad for health, only problem is ‘too much of everything is bad’.

  4. princess

    June 12, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks a lot for this!!!!moving back soon and this def helps! 🙂

  5. tunmi

    June 12, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Good points but palm oil is healthy. Just minimize am, and also look at the type of workout. Cardio + weight training and you will be fine. It’s not always food

  6. Joan85

    June 12, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    This is truly helpful. Thanks Lola. 🙂 my wahala with brown rice is the cooking method, I always end up burning it lol

  7. Miss Mo

    June 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Great tips. Thanks. Black people need to take their health more seriously. Old people diseases are now killing more and more young people.

    Health is Wealth.

  8. femigirl

    June 12, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    I would say cut out palm oil all together imagine 100g of palm oil content 910 calories. i would say swap rice for wholewheat cous cous or quniona . Drink water with lemon as much as possible. weight everything you eat.

    • Iris

      June 12, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      I’ve heard couscous is pretty much the same as rice in terms of nutrition so I wrote it off as a rice replacement hehe.
      I think we sometimes give Nigerian food too much flack. We are blessed with a good variety of home-grown fresh food, fruit and veggies and not pre-packaged, processed stuff. It’s just about portion, being more inventive with what we already have, and finding better ways to cook them. Palm oil is actually good for you but use sparingly. I don’t make beans with palm oil. I make stew with little oil instead and cook already boiled beans in it until it thickens to the consistency of beans with palm oil and it tastes just fine.
      Don’t salt your plantain before you fry it. It actually tastes just fine without salt. I grew up in a household where we boiled then fried our chicken or meat before using it for stew. Now I skip the frying phase. I can’t stand brown rice (it’s probably expensive in Nigeria too as is quinoa) so I just eat more unprocessed carbohydrates instead of rice and bread. I’m not open-minded enough to desecrate my jollof with brown rice abeg so I already know when I’m making it that I won’t binge on it. Quinoa and brown rice may not be affordable as part of a regular diet so this is where portion with regular rice comes in.

  9. flo

    June 12, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Renew your mind, the battlefield is in your mind.Once you can renew your mind about food , you will be able to eat in moderation and the transformation will start.

  10. Lala

    June 12, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I wish someone can come out with a diet book specifically for Africans. Every diet book out there is western and me i am typical west african i dont each ANY oyibo food whatsoever – and i mean NONE (am serious) . Everything i eat is either Rice, Yams, Plantains, Corn meals etc.

    I pray someone comes out with a diet book for us ohhh. We west africans

  11. seun

    June 12, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Nice tips.

  12. Changing Faces

    June 13, 2014 at 8:58 am

    As someone above mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with Nigerian food. The problem is portion sizes. Even restaurants portions are massive. It’s important to enjoy your food, so reduce portions and make up with vegetables you like. Also reduce the number of times you eat carbohydrates: bread in the morning, eba in the afternoon, rice in the evening. Make a conscious effort to eat carbs just once or twice a day. Find innovative ways to make beans; you can boil, then use for stir fry. Just keep experimenting, you’d enjoy food better.

  13. MOM

    June 13, 2014 at 9:40 am

    the best av learnt today. av been on diet for some time now, i even got compliment on how my body shape is . and was asked if i do workout. i actually do not work out cos i dont ve d time but wish i do for better skin tone but i do mind what goes into my body and recently av seen results. lots of fruit, veggies , less frying, and carbohydrates, and lots of drinking water can help u alot. now i ve foods to buy from the tips thanks for this tips.

  14. Vegan Nigerian

    June 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I’d say avoid oil-based vinaigrettes for salads. The oil adds unnecessary calories. Some lemon juice or vinegar with a generous sprinkling of ground black pepper should do the trick.

  15. Obi

    June 14, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Palm oil gets such a bad rap. Why? Some say it has cholesterol … how? In school, I was told that plant oils/ butters do not have cholesterol. So I’ve often wondered why/how the cholesterol bit came. Also, palm oil is minimally processed in comparison to other oils used for cooking. Get the fruit from the tree, boil, then press to release the oil (pounding it that is – its actually fun cos the fresh fruits taste good!!). How much more healthier can you go? Straight from nature to ur table with no additives. Of course, it should be used in moderation, and not slathered like butter. Which reminds me … we used butter/ margarine/ cheese/ jam with high fructose corn syrup, everyday, yet palm oil gets all the bad rap. Long story short, I love palm oil. 🙂

    • Audrey

      March 12, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      It has been proven that the cholesterol in our diet does not increase nor reduce the cholesterol naturally found in our body. So I agree with you that palm oil is not bad; the key is moderation,

  16. Jane

    January 6, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Can some one pls tell me where i can buy quinoa, chia seeds and flax seeds? I would really appreciate that

    • Patrick

      July 2, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      If you are still interested in chia seeds and flax seeds send a mail to [email protected]

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