I am epicurious. I love to cook a meal for a group of friends and family and to enjoy it as we unwind. In many cultures around the world, food plays a major role at family gatherings, celebrations and we Africans are no exception to the rule- food will definitely be a huge part of any celebration. Who can blame us with all that color and spice? Besides, it plays a huge social role. It’s so important that African kids typically get grilled at the dinner table for every mischief they were up to earlier in the day. If you’re visiting a friend or family, you leave your house on a diet because when you get there, you’re definitely falling off the wagon!
That’s culture. But how about some real talk. We left behind a lot of freshly cooked food - made daily due to the ample time, three times a day plus a cup of evening tea. No microwaves, no refrigerated food. Now here we are, in the land of microwaves. Food has increasingly become a silent killer. As a matter of fact, you either eat to live or live to eat - with the latter being a precedent for a lot of health problems. The warnings and advice are there - we just have to heed them.
A year ago, I came to the realization that a few things had to change after I tipped the scales at a mind-boggling weight. By the way, don’t ask me and I surely won’t tell you - not even my husband could make me :) Anyways, I knew that I had to shed some pounds. I remember asking God for help because I didn’t know where to start. I wondered if I would feel much healthier if I shed a few pounds. I’ve never had self esteem issues because my dad used to tell me “If anyone comments on you being chubby, just tell them that you weren’t bottle fed.” But still, I wanted to dare myself. Besides, my son loves life and needs a healthy, strong mom to help shape his world through adventure. For that to happen, momma had to make some some adjustments.
One step at a time.
I embarked on a journey of changing my eating habits, but the most important thing was “One day at a time!” At first it felt like I was giving up the good stuff and keeping track of my eating felt like a chore. I had to keep my eyes on that target, though. Having my family as inspiration helped a lot.
Things I have started:
- Healthy cooking oils: coconut, Ghee (yes, I said Ghee), olive and nut oils
- Vegetables, fruit and proteins - including good lean meats - the good old balanced diet for all meals
- Wholesome grains
- Eating every 3 - 5 hours
- Water - lots of water
Things I have stopped:
- Unhealthy cooking oils
- Refined and processed grains
- Using more oil than I need for cooking
This is no health guide. But I hope to inspire someone out there to cut down on the carbohydrates (Ugali, Couscous, Fufu and Rice) and replace it with some fruits and vegetables. Small changes in my life have given me amazing results without setting a foot in the gym - health gurus say weight loss is based 80% on food choices and only 20% on exercise. I hope you can tweak a few things here and there for a healthier you. I will bring you some new interesting options to your cooking repertoire - with a touch of African always.