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‘Busola Abayomi-Adebayo: No Eba, No Rice, No White Bread! So What Can I Eat?

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What exactly is safe to eat these days? All you have to do is Google a particular food type. No, Google is too far. Right on your Facebook timeline, BBM and Whatsapp broadcast messages…in fact every avenue on social media presents a long list of reasons why you should be very wary of consuming rice, eggs, fries, instant noodles, white bread and most pastries, beef, palm oil, groundnut oil, sugar, salt, eba, fufu, even wheat has now attracted the fury of the food prefects.

This is the same wheat that was hailed the hero of low sugar foods some years ago and recommended by medical doctors to those on a low- sugar diet. It has basically become poison, if the viral online articles are to be believed.

The list is in exhaustive if you can think it, then it is on #thelist. It turns out that food, and in particular Nigerian staples, is a major contributor to many health issues today: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, fibroids e.t.c.

Once the doctor prescribes drugs to manage these illnesses, he includes an accompanying catalog of foods to avoid in order to prevent a recurrence. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) upped the ante by including processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausage alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer, effectively placing cured and processed meats in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco. Scary!

I am naturally choosy about certain foods but those I do eat, I ensure I consume them well and in sizeable quantities however in doing this I am also very conscious of the health risks involved. My octogenarian grandmother, on the other hand, eats just about anything she desires without being mindful of the said calories, gluten or sugar. She believes that death would eventually come soon enough, so why deprive herself of delicacies on earth which she is not sure of getting in heaven. However, she is 84 and has lived majority of her life already so I will respectfully derail from her food-related choices.

The more moderate adherents of the fitfam movement educate us that those food groups we learnt about in school, the carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, fats and oils, proteins are proper components of a healthy diet. The emphasis should be on portion control.

The older you get, the less active you are and therefore your body’s need for carbs reduce or else it gets converted into fat somewhere in the body. So they recommend a fistful of rice, eba, fufu accompanied by a bowlful of vegetables with some fruits to aid digestion along the way.

The time you eat is also of essence, they say heavier meals should be consumed during the day so there is ample time for it to digest. Also, the more physical activities you engage in during the day the better for your metabolism examples include climbing the stairs rather than taking the elevator, parking your vehicle a little far away from your destination so you can walk a bit is also encouraged (just ensure you have an eye on your car wherever it is parked).

The fact that we all want to live long, healthy lives informs the current trend of extreme caution when it comes to foods consumed. As with any other issue in life, compromise and moderation is the watchword.

So what foods have you given up in a bid to be healthy? Have you been able to strike a balance between portions especially as regards carbs and fruits/vegetables? Please share principles which have worked, you could just be saving a life.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Sam74100 

Busola Abayomi-Adebayo is a lawyer, public servant and occasional writer. she's passionate about information and just about anything newsworthy. Follow her on twitter @busolaidowu'

17 Comments

  1. beauty

    November 16, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Was expecting an advice as to what to eat, since you had stated all the easily accessible foods???

  2. AMAKA

    November 16, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I am presently 9weeks post most carbs. I havens eaten rice, indomie, fried eggs and other unhealthy foods in those 9weeks and with a little workout exercise, I have lost 11kg (presently 59kg from 70kg). I eat yam or potatoes once a week. My meals comprise mostly of vegetables, fruits and proteins. I also eat eba/semo once a week(alternatively with the yam and potatoes). I cannot believe how slim and toned down I am now. People actually think I used some sort of drugs to achieve my weight loss but my colleagues can attest to the fact that I have only been eating healthily and in small portions so if you are looking to lose weight and generally become healthier, you have to ditch the carbs. Indulge more in fruits and vegetables. Even if you want to eat regular meals, make sure they are in small, fist sized portions and add a little work out routine to it and your body will thank you for it.

    • seyi

      November 16, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Please Amaka, can you give the specifics of your diet these past nine weeks

    • AMAKA

      November 16, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      I wake up by 5am to prepare for work Leave home by 5;30am so I can trek to the bus stop instead of taking a bike. Its a 15mins walk. While walking, I am sipping on a bottle of water. I get to the office typically by 7;30/7;45am, take another two cups of water and a cup of green tea. Breakfast is either two cooked eggs and one apple or one fistful of cashew nuts and one medium sized cucumbers(remember I already drank about 3cups of water an hour earlier so I feel fuller after eating my small breakfast). Lunch is oil less beans or moin moin by 1pm. Dinner could either be fruits salad or oatmeal smoothie (half a cup of oats and two bananas) with a cup of water. This is not what I eat all the time as I usually switch it up. On Wednesdays, I take vegetable soup with eba/semo. Though its more like 70%soup and 30% swallow. If I eat eba/veggies this week, then next week, I would eat a few slices of yam and small egg stew, the upper week I may eat oil less unripe plantain porridge, you know, just switch it up but make sure your carbs are drastically reduced, your fruits and veggies intake are greatly increased. I get home by 7pm, rest till 8:15pm and do a little work out routine for 45mins. Every Saturday, I and my neighbor do a one hour 10km brisk walking/jogging. That’s it. I am amazed at the changes. I did not register in a gym. I just go to fitnessblender.com to download free workout videos. Alternatively, you can get Shaun T’s workout videos or Insanity workout DVDs . You can also download fitness apps to help you keep tabs on your daily activities and calories burnt.

      PS; please don’t do too much sweet fruits such as water melon, pineapples, bananas, sour-sop etc. If you are serious about counting your calories and losing weight, these fruits will make you add weight overtime if taken too much. Eat more of cucumbers, lettuce, beetroots, egg plants, carrots etc. Their calorific value is very low and they make you feel fuller faster and longer.

  3. Yrimu

    November 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Personally, I don’t believe all these stories about what you can or cannot eat. What I go by:
    1. Output> input. Why do athletes eat much but gain little?
    2. Everything in moderation. Don’t over eat because the food is so yummy. Even too much of salad or smoothies is not good for your health.
    3. Hydrate as much as possible. Drink fluids- not just water, tea, fresh fruit juices ( where possible)
    4. Eat slowly and chew your food completely.
    5. Eat food in portions. Instead of 3 square meals you can have 6 meals.

    I noticed I have weighed the same for the last 10 years and people always ask me why I rarely add weight. Then I noticed I am very active. I walk a lot instead of driving, I also eat a lot of small meals during the day.

  4. Noms

    November 16, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    You can eat “Akamu” lol

  5. Thatgidigirl

    November 16, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Been 10 days since I went cold turkey on simple carbs i.e. Rice, yam, bread, baked food etc and I’ve lost 2kg, face is slimmer and my watch is lose on my wrist. They say portion control is the key with carbs, but I know myself…once I start I can’t stop so I cut them out altogether. I eat eggs quite often but mostly the White, or one whole egg and two whites, fist size oat flour for swallow and oilless soup, chicken, salads, fruits and vegetables. I substituted rice with quinoa a long time ago and this has helped with the transition. I don’t know how long I can keep up with the new regimen as I’ve only just started but hopefully I intend to make it a lifestyle as the result so far is encouraging. People say when u take out rice, eba, bread etc there’s little left to eat in Nigeria, I don’t think it’s true, you only have to research and join groups maybe. There’s a group on Facebook WEW, I get lots of food and workout inspiration from there and it’s mostly Nigerian meals.

    • serene

      November 17, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      How do I join? Its a closed group

  6. TheLadyWithTheAfroLocs

    November 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    joining u guys Thatgidigirl and Amaka.
    i need to lose 23kg by feb for a procedure…God help me *sad face*

  7. Lotusflower

    November 16, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    One thing that has helped me is the ‘myfitnesspal’ app. I don’t really count calories or carbs, but using this app and logging in my food has really opened my eyes to the amount of calories, carbs, sugars, and fats in the foods I eat. I use it more as a learning tool. I also used a kitchen scale to weigh my food. I was so shocked to learn the actual grams (weight) of the food. Eye-balling food servings is not enough. A food scale will allow you to get a proper idea of how much you are actually eating.

  8. nnenne

    November 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    You can eat every and anything.
    Moderation is the key.
    Exercise routinely, drink lots of water.
    Drink less sugary drinks.
    Remember, beer and alcohol also have lots of calories and drink responsibly.
    Lots of fruits, nuts and vegatables,

    Cook your meals whenever you can.
    Like Amaka, I leave home early everyday but always take lunch with me, cooked the night before and packed with one boiled egg sometimes for breakfast. My breakfast is usually cheerios. A pack is always in my office with low fat lactaid or almond milk. I bring fruits, and nuts with me too. I don’t drink mineral or juice. I only drink water.

    Do what works for you.

  9. Jagbajantis

    November 16, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    The key components to a healthy lifestyle and effective weight management are: Food.Hydrate.Exercise. Sleep

    I will offer a few tips based on what I understand, as someone who is trying to manage my weight which had spiraled out of control in the last 4 years>

    Food – The key thing is to stay away from processed food. If it is in a packet, reduce consumption to a miniscule amount. Try if possible to always eat fresh food where possible.
    Method of preparation – Raw, steam, grill, bake. Reduce deep-frying drastically.

    Some people have said that removing carbs from your diet helps with weight loss. I prefer a modified version which is easier to stay the course with – I usually eliminate carbs during the week, and have some over the weekend. That way I do not feel too deprived too much.
    Two of the best gadgets you can buy to help you are a George Foreman grill and a Ninja/Nutri blender. The George Foreman Grill comes in many sizes, and can help you grill meats/chicken/fish/turkey with minimum fuss, while reducing the oil. It can grill raw food, though it works best when the food is boneless. Just add your spices on the meat/fish/chicken, toss in and viola you have your protein. Then you can add sides like a vegetable mix, humus, beans.

    The blender is to help with smoothies. Do you know that you can blend cashew nuts into a healthy milky drink. You can add Greek low fat yoghurt into a fruit mix with ice cubes for a good refreshing drink.

    If you are in Nigeria, and worry about power outages, you still have alternatives. You can buy chicken and turkey, take it to a suya man and give him a tip. Ask him to help you grill them, but with minimal use of salts and oil. For oils, I recommend Extra Virgin Olive Oil. There are other healthy versions too like Coconut oil, sunflower oil, canola. But I really like Extra Virgin Olive Oil because it has a certain flavor to it.
    Other things you can add to your diet are unsalted nuts like cashew, almonds, brazil nuts; You can get a non-stick pan and do a light stir fry using the oils prescribed above and a medley of carrots, green pepper, green peas, mushroom etc. A non-stick pan stir-fries healthily with less than a table spoon of oil.
    Complex carbs like whole grain bread, cereal, pasta, sweet potatoes are recommended in moderation. You could dice a sweet potato into wedges and brush lightly with any of the recommended oils above, and then garnish with curry/thyme/pepper and then toss in the George Foreman Grill. Now, place that wedges next to the vegetables and grilled chicken. Viola!

    A good breakfast item is Oatmeal. Combine with low-fat milk or almond milk.
    Know what you are intolerant to, and what bloats you. It took an ex-girlfriend to notice that cereal and milk, which I LOVED so much, somehow bloat me up. I had to cut that off.
    Hydrate – Drink lots of water. Divide your body weight in pounds into 2. Do you have the number? If 8 ounces is a cup of water, then divide that number by 8. The amount is the number of cups of water you have to drink per day. If for example I am 160 pounds. I divide by 2, and the number is 80. 80 divided by 8 equals 10. So I need to drink at least 10 cups of water a day. Water helps flush away toxins and helps with effective metabolism.
    Reduce drastically/avoid soda (Coke, Fanta etc.). Yes even diet soda. I used to drink diet soda, until I noticed that it made me feel bloated.

    Exercise – I have done it all but I noticed that brisk walking is the best exercise of all time. All you need is at least 35 minutes of brisk walking, swinging your arms, and better if on an incline, 4 days a week. If you can do 3, then make it 50 minutes. Or better still, walk every other day, with a day in between. I find that walking is easier on the joints and helps tackle stomach fat. Also try to lift weights.
    Sleep – If you do not rest properly, your body fights weight loss. Enough said.
    The best way to go about weight management is not to see it as dieting/exercise but as a lifestyle change. If you need extra motivation, you would need to see someone who suffered a heart attack due to excess weight or unhealthy choices. My friend who is like 35 suffered a partial stroke, and I nearly shed tears when I saw him. These days you hear about people in their 30s and 40s having heart attacks. I recently saw photos of my secondary school set reunion and all of us guys had afo-ukwu. Some had double chins too.
    Is it expensive to eat healthily? Maybe, but not necessarily. Is it hard to stay the course. It is not easy – but it CAN be done, if you always stay prepared. Always have healthy snacks close by. Pre-plan your meals. Get a support system of people who eat healthy and want to see you succeed. Write down all what you eat as it makes you more accountable – actually scratch that – there are loads of apps which can help you record your food intake.

    We top up our expensive smart phones with credit, and do an oil change/service for our motor vehicles as well as parts replacements when our vehicle develop a problem. How much more our health?

    Ok I have gone on for too long now.

  10. loverOfGod

    November 16, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    For me, the most important thing is to understand your body and keep fit always… all these food causing cancer like you mentioned shouldn’t scare us.. just everything ‘balanced’ (moderate) would do..

  11. Tosin

    November 16, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    A tip for eating better without feeling harassed and deprived:
    Don’t think of it as no, think of it as yes. Yes veggies, yes roasted, yes water, yes fruits, yes fish, yes grilled, yes raw, yes real, etc. The more you eat the bright and beautiful things, the more your consumption of those others will shrink.

  12. Olayemi

    November 16, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks people! I’m getting off all bad carbs from now on! Ha! Lol

  13. momo karbo.

    November 16, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    The final solution is upon us, and these educated fools are buying into this madness. Abi, i am an African kust like millions Africans in the diaspora, who have never changed our African diet. We still eat fufu, moimoi, eba, groundnut soup, okra soup, pepper soup, and we are free of all these stupid diseases. I eat palm oil everyday, and all these other African foods, never been to a doctor, don’t take zero western medication, don’t even eat hamburgers or french fries, don’t eat any of this western foods. My mantra.is, any that is packaged, i don’t eat. I buy, my palmoil, and coconut.oil, from the company that started this health food crap, Trader’s Joe. Please keep on eating your African foods, they are healthier than all these genetically modified modified organisms. If you are interested, hit me on facebook, i’ll give you some guidance. Now, i am seeing ogas in the continent with stomachs as big as a nine months old pregnant woman. That’s just to unhealthy. Like i said, contact me on facebook, i will be glad to share this big lie about these stupid European diet schemes. The biggest fraud ever. Love you all. Please eat your fufu and eba, and egusi and garri. Love you all.

  14. Felinda

    November 18, 2015 at 5:43 am

    Watch this inspiring video – it might help you make better decisions on what to eat

    youtube.com/watch?v=0lSn6JKyo1o

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