In this busy world were we all have soooooo much on our sleeves, losing weight should not be made even more difficult than it already is. I mean we have heard it all, from “count your calories” to weigh every single ingredient before and after eating. Who has time and patience for that kind of wahala (trouble)? As if losing weight is not wahala on its own already! I don’t know about you but counting calories is definitely not for me!!! I’ve got a full-time job, a family to take care of, a choir and an NGO and as if that’s not enough, I’ve got people of God to serve. Biko I will not kill myself while counting every grain of rice.
So here’s the good news: you can actually lose weight without going crazy with a scale and conversion tables. Yes you read right! The only items you need is YOU, YOUR FOOD and YOUR PLATE! Viola!!!!
In their quest to facilitate healthy eating and help people make healthy choices, first lady Michelle Obama and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2011 introduced the MyPlate icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times. This icon illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet namely fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.
The principle is simple:
Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with grains and one-quarter with protein. Have a side of dairy or water with it!
A great idea which has helped many in the past years, but then I saw a problem: the foods in each food group though similar to our (heritage) foods, the method of preparation quite differed. Even the way we African mix and match our foods make it quite difficult to use. Imagine fried rice, or Ekwang Kwoko, Catfish peppersoup, or native Okra soup or just MoiMoi on MyPlate? Go ahead and scratch your head, it’s that complicated :)!
I wondered for a long time too, but eventually realised that we use the underlying principles of MyPlate adapted to our African cuisine and even for weight loss if you know the nutritional value, the health benefits and the methods of preparing our foods, which I do. So here it is broken down for you, your African plate:
Building on the principles of MyPlate, and taking into consideration that we eat a lot of one-pot which comprise of vegetables and tubers, here’s IHL’s recommendation of how your African plate should look like:
- Lunch idea – whole grain rice, Buka stew and chicken and veggies. The secret is making sure to choose whole grain and tubers over refined foods like white rice or pasta to ensure that you are feeding your body with the complex carbs it needs for energy, cook with 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil, chose lean proteins (lean beef, chicken breast, beans and peas) and make sure that you fill half of your plate with steamed or raw low energy-dense vegetables and fruits or salads.
- Lunch idea – cassava, tomato stew and chicken and vegetables. Another thing is to eat meat or chicken every other day. Most of us make the mistake to eat huge quantities of meat at almost every meal. Note that too much consumption of meat has been linked to obesity and obesity-related diseases, so you want to watch your meat intake. Replace meat when cooking with mushrooms or use meat broth to cook Jellof rice for example and still have that meaty taste in your food.
- Lunch idea – sweet potatoes, sautéed spinach and sea food. A healthy and delicous way to watch your calories. Seafood is a great alternative to meat because it is low in calories and adds great flavour to vegetables like okra or spinach.
- Lunch idea – sweet potatoes and cabbage stir-fry with lots of vegetables. Notice my love for sweet potatoes. Read the health benefits of this miracle tuber here!
- Lunch idea – Garri (eba) and bitterleaf okra soup with chicken. The trick here is to know the food group in which all foods or ingredients you use fall into that way, you can easily create your African plate. More on tips and tricks on filling MyAfricanPlate in another post.
- MyAfricanPlate for kids idea – Home-made plantain noodles and tomato stew, mushrooms, broccoli and tomatoes. It’s never too early to introduce healthy eating to your kids. Remember that most of us eat the way eat today because that’s the way we were taught. Introducing healthy eating at a young age will empower your child with the knowledge he/she needs for a life-time of nourishing nutrition.
So there you have it! No more calorie counting, no measuring, no conversions, in fact NO MATHEMATICS. If you want to learn more on healthy eating or lose weight, join the August-Septempter TakeYaShape session by registering here and recieve 8-weeks of nutritional counselling plus meal plans and recipes to trim you to your God-given shape