Counting and calculating calories has never been a fun thing to do for me, especially when I have recipes that call for weighing in Oz, grams, Lbs and other measuring units. How many calories does 100g of plantain have? How much Efo Riro should I eat? Is one Chapati good for weight loss? I tell you I have no patience to break my head on every single food I want to eat. It takes the fun out of the cooking and enjoying the food. Are you like me?
Nigeria’s #1 fitness trainer Esta Morinikeji of Zone Fitness wrote in a recent post – How to calculate calories in Nigerian dishes – “google is your friend”. Indeed you can find nearly everything on that platform thank God but may I add that you would need to do a thorough search of a long list of food ingredients for one menu, which is not a bad idea for those who have time to spend unendless hours searching the internet. But here is the good news, those of you who hadly have time and who are not willing to carry out long and tiresome searches but who want the fast and fun way to enjoy your food while keeping an eye on calories can use My African Diet Pyramid which I introduced here or MyPlate which I am about to introduce. You can thank me later! 😉
The MyPlate is the modern version of the food pyramid created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showing a circle divided into four brightly-colored wedges, each labeled with the name of a food group. Vegetables (green) and fruits (red) take up half the plate. Proteins (purple) and grains (brown) each get one quarter of the plate. Just off to the side is a smaller blue circle for dairy products, looking a bit like a glass of milk or a cup of yogurt. A fork and placemat complete the place setting like the image below shows.
Let’s take a closer look of the plate and see what foods should be eaten in what portions:
Do I need to say anything else? Self explanatory isn’t it? But here’s what I find amazing: our African Heritage food groups can be portioned as indicated by MyPlate. This means you can actually create your very own “MyAfricanPlate” using the “MyPlate” guidelines provided you know which food falls under the categories Fruits and vegetables, Grains and tubers and proteins. For a quick recall on what foods make up the diferent fod groups of the African Heritage diet, see the African Heritage Diet Pyramid.
How you can incorparate you favorite African foods will be discussed on a series I am currently working on called “MyAfricanPlate” but here is a preview of how your plate should look like if you are having rice and tomato stew with vegetables for lunch today.
In a nutshell
With MyPlate, you donot need to weigh out every food you eat or count every single calorie. The important message for you to take home is:
- Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables
- Fill a quarter with whole grains
- Fill the other quarter with lean proteins
- Drink lots of water
- Use healthy oils sparingly and
- Incorporate physical activity in all you do!