It is one thing to incorporate fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods into one’s diet and another to know how to eat in moderation. Eating two medium apples plus grapes and maybe a banana in order to satisfy the “eat fruits daily to improve your health” rule, will actually lead to excessive sugar in your system. It is best to eat more complex carbohydrate such as beans, whole grains and vegetables. These types fill you up as they contain more fibre than the simple carbs. Examples of simple carbs are fruits, table sugar, syrup and soft drinks. Children should eat for growth and adults for nourishment. The following are simple steps to follow:
Focus on the quality of foods, rather than the quantity: Availability of funds is one reason many would rather buy food items for less prices instead of the healthy ones for more money. For instance, white bread cost less money than whole wheat bread. White potato bread however, contains more calories. A slice of whole wheat bread contains 90 calories, while potato bread contains 140 calories each slice. Choose healthy snacks such as peanut (groundnut) or carrots over a bag of potato chips, and choose low fat or low salt type of snack.
Keep food journal a food diary: You might be surprised to learn how much food you eat and how much calories in total you consume in a day, if you actually keep a diary. This is one of the best ways to know how to reduce calories when one wants to lose weight. Writing down the amount of food, the time it was eaten, the type of food, and how many times one eats daily make it easier for you to actually know what you’re putting in your body. Many of my patients would complain seriously about their children being picky eaters. No matter how much I try, it is difficult to appropriately convey to parents the reasons that picky eating in children is considered normal and a phase. So I tell them to keep a 3-day food diary, only for them to be amazed by the total amount of food and calories their children consume, daily.
Use measuring cups, spoons or scoops: This might sound unreasonable to some people especially those who don’t understand that adults should eat TO NOURISH and not TO GROW. Children need food to grow and still do not need to over-feed. Measuring food helps with portion control and reduces wastage. An 8 oz. cup of chocolate drink will do the body good, compared to a 16 oz. which is excess. A big bowl of white rice will digest slower than a small portion with lots of vegetables.
In Nigeria, there is access to fresh vegetables and fruits. Some of these, we are fortunate enough to be able to grow at the backyard, which isn’t an option in some western countries. Fruits and vegetables are grown far away from where they are sold. For example, bananas are grown and imported into the US from Latin American countries such as Mexico and Guatemala. They have to be grown with so much fertilizers and preservatives before reaching the market. A bunch of bananas bought at 12pm might become over-ripe or turn black within hours. The type of banana grown in Nigeria is referred to as organic banana in the US, which cost twice as much as the regular type. Some countries have rice, corn and yams as staple foods which make it difficult to cook varieties.
An appropriate portion of pounded yam and any soup will be an 8oz pounded yam with a 10oz soup (mostly cooked with fresh green leafy vegetable) and a 6oz piece of chicken, fish or beef.
This is the third blog post in the Healthier This Quarter series.
Adebisi Ibrahim (BSc, MS, RDN, CDN) is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist based, in New York City. She is a Food, Dietetics, and Nutrition graduate from the Herbert Lehman College, NYC and can be reached on Facebook
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended to replace consultation with a physician. Please see your doctor without delay if you have any symptoms that you are unsure of. Do not stop taking any prescribed medication or start any lifestyle changes without your own doctor’s supervision. This website is for your information only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition