To eat is to live! Eating can be such an enjoyable activity. It permeates every facet of life. The act of food consumption fosters family bonding and camaraderie. Businesses are also not exempt. Megadeals and negotiations are signed and sealed over breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Eating is also integral to cultural identity. Different cultures have rituals and etiquette guiding how, when, and what to eat. No celebration is complete without food! The thought of eating alone can elicit such glee and happiness in most people. However, as the saying goes, too much of everything is not good.
As satisfying as it feels to eat, overindulgence can lead to many health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and overall health degeneration. This adverse effect is why moderation and cultivating a healthy eating habit are essential. Eating just enough to stay healthy and alive is a more useful habit than eating to satisfy a craving. But, of course, this ability is easier said than done! I know how hard it is not to reach for that second helping of yummy pudding or Shepherd’s pie or the conflict between having or not having another scoop of ice cream or piece of doughnut. The struggle is real!
To eat in moderation is to avoid excesses or extreme behavior, especially when it concerns indulging in pleasurable feeding acts. The concept of food moderation denotes discipline. Discipline is what is required to curb indulging in excessive food cravings or emotion-driven binge eating. Food moderation does not in any way connote giving up on food altogether. It merely means to reduce or become less flamboyant in our choices. By practicing a few mindful minimalist eating tips, it is possible to become healthier and happier without giving up your favorite meals altogether.
A significant factor that affects this idea of food moderation and healthy eating is our background. Our family, friends, our experience with food while growing up, what we saw and heard makes up our general understanding of food. In addition, some individuals indulge in emotional eating, which is the habitual art of using food as consolation when depressed or going through stress. Emotional eating can cause guilt, nausea, and weight-related health issues (e.g., obesity). Also, lifestyle and the type of job you do can affect your eating habit.
The beauty of moderation in eating starts with knowing what you want. Developing a health goal is the first step in leading a healthier lifestyle. According to a Jim Rohn, “Goals. You can’t comprehend what you may accomplish when you are inspired by them. You can’t comprehend what you may accomplish when you believe in the goals that you set. You can’t comprehend what you may accomplish when you act upon them” (Paraphrased). The next step is identifying what needs to change or to be adjusted. The next step is to believe that you can accomplish them. Finally, it would be best to tenaciously cultivate the discipline to implement the action steps you have committed to taking.
Living a healthy life starts with reducing or portioning the quantity of food you eat. Measuring your meal by rationing and portioning will help you keep track of what you eat. It may also be beneficial to start counting your calories when you eat. This will help you in knowing the amount of your daily calorie intake requirement. Staying within the limits of your daily calorie requirement will help you not exceed those limits. Portioning and rationing may not work for everyone. Another option could be increasing your metabolism by eating up to five times a day in small portions. This increases your body metabolism and can substitute major portioning and rationing of food throughout the whole day.
Apart from frequent eating in small portions, substituting meals can help quite a lot! Food substitution is the process of keeping foods that you love in your diet by choosing similar foods to them. So, instead of having a big bowl of ice cream, one could have some fresh fruit or even a fruit-based smoothie as a substitute. Another fun-substituting measure is making vegetable-based smoothies. In so doing, you could satisfy your sweet-tooth craving and achieve it via a healthier food substitution. So, food substitution can assist you in the process of moderating what you eat.
Dieticians always advise eating in moderation, especially for those trying to achieve a body weight goal or whose desire is to leave a healthier lifestyle. In some cases, they advise you to eat whatever you want, provided it falls under the calorie target for the day. According to the highlights and findings of the American College of Sports Medicine, the caloric intake for women and men should not go below 1200 and 1800 calories per day for women and men, respectively. However, for those who choose the path of moderation, staying within the purview of these caloric requirements can be extremely beneficial, to say the very least.
For some, the concept of food moderation is a tough journey, especially when they are just starting to apply it in their daily lives. I advocate starting with baby steps. Trying to do too much at the onset of moderation could be unrealistic at times. Some people quickly fall off the bandwagon of food moderation as hastily as they started the process. There is no need for a radical lifestyle change; you can always ease into the health goals you have set gradually. This is more sustainable than attacking your goals head-on. Crash diets don’t work. Start small but be consistent. You can start by reducing the portion of carbohydrate meals you eat. Substituting high-calorie content pastries or snacks with fruits and nuts can also be very beneficial. Instead of eating an entire box of doughnuts, have two and then adjust as time goes on. With time you could eliminate them if you so will—slow and steady wins the race. Also, increase physical activities to help burn off the extra calories.
Here are some points to consider when eating in moderation:
First, know what is moderate for you. Everyone has a different body type and a distinct diet. So, start by figuring out what moderation means to you. For instance, some people can’t go a whole day without drinking soda. They recognize that this is an indulgence and treats it as one. However, excessive intake of sugar-infused drinks is one of the leading causes of diabetes. A healthier substitution for soda could be switching to natural fresh-squeezed fruit juice or detoxification water infused with natural fruits. Those who are hooked on soda need to find a way to wean themselves of such drinks to eschew its negative impact. The truth is that it is always better to avoid processed food for the most part. Find what works for you and stick to it.
Second, empty your pantry and fridge. Remove the trigger foods from your home. Trigger foods are foods that trigger you to overeat or binge. These are foods that you can never have enough of; one bite of such food for you is less than enough. These kinds of foods drive you to want to eat them more and more and more. If your indulgences aren’t in your fridge or pantry, you won’t be able to eat them. So, it would do you well to expunge such foods from your pantry shelves and refrigerator. It may be more beneficial to stock your fridge and pantry with other more nutritious meals rather than trigger-unhealthy junk foods (e.g., seeded crackers or different nuts such as pistachios and almonds). Get rid of foods with excess refined sugars. As much as you can, go fresh, go natural, go healthy.
Third, don’t deceive yourself—eat right. If you’re on a diet, for instance, but every night you order a Domino’s or Papa John’s extra-large meat lover’s pizza with cheese-stuffed crust, you’re not eating right. The practice of late-night eating will frustrate the goal you’re working so hard to achieve! Make intelligent food choices. Use smaller plates. Find ways to curb excessive eating out when you are on a food moderation goal. Cut down your portion size as earlier stipulated. For instance, scoop ice cream into a small bowl instead of eating it out of the pint. Be mindful of portion sizes—this is the hallmark of moderate eating. Seek out organic and local produce when you can. Use the best quality ingredients you can afford. Eat more fresh food (e.g., salads), cut out too many deep-fried foods (e.g., French Fries, Chicken, etc.).
Fourth, eat a salad every day if possible. If you’re trying to incorporate more plants into your diet, make it a point of having a salad filled with leafy greens, fish, or chicken fillets, roasted or raw veggies, with nuts and seeds at least once a day. Enjoy a homemade salad for lunch at work, and you’ll save cash and eat more healthily. Here’s a super-crazy way to cut back even on more calories and fat – opt to eat the salad without dressing. You can use balsamic vinegar or Italian dressing for salads due to its low-calorie content. Add ingredients with natural wetness, like tomatoes, olives, sweet corn, or canned beans, and you won’t end up with a dry salad.
Fifth, always have water and drink it. People often mistake hunger for thirst. To avoid eating something when you’re dehydrated, always ensure that you have water around you. When you wake up in the morning, start your day by drinking a glass of water. Staying hydrated will make you more productive and more awake, and it can give you a quick energy boost when you need it. Drinking water regularly is very beneficial. Water helps regulate body temperature, aid in digestion, maintain healthy muscles and support the organs. Seriously, now go and have a glass of water!
A Brillat Savarin once said that you should “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” We are what we eat. The food we eat defines our very being and existence. Taking the statement forward, ‘Tell me what you eat, how much you eat, and how much you exercise, and I will tell you who you will become.’ If you eat junk food and a lot of it, for that matter, with little or no exercise, you will become an out-of-shape roly-poly with an elevated chance of developing severe health issues. If you eat healthy food and a lot of it for that matter, with little or no exercise, you stand a chance of gaining some weight and with some possibilities of having some health issues. If you eat healthy foods moderately in conjunction with some exercising, you will control your body weight and with the highest chance of developing any weight and health-related issue. Your health is your wealth. Eating just enough is the pathway to health, which is the pathway to wealth.
Moderation when it comes to food is very crucial. We have seen various things that we can do to moderate how we eat. We should know what moderate means for each one of us. One man’s moderation may be another man’s starvation. This is not a call to starve; it is a call to eat in moderation. So, everyone must gauge their moderation capacity and stick to it. Next, go right now and survey your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of trigger eats. Get rid of excess sweets. Load up your pantry with a healthy variety of foodstuff and start the moderation walk of healthy eating. When you commence the moderation walk, stick with it. You could indulge yourself now and then, but don’t make it a habit, or you will fall off the bandwagon of the moderation walk. If you can, make salads and other healthy eats your staple. It will do your health a lot of good in your moderation walk. Finally, cut off excess colored and sweet drinks. Be sure to make Adam’s Ale (It’s Water! Not Wine! Not Beer!) your best friend on your moderation walk. It’s perfect for flushing your system and keeping you hydrated regularly. Remember, we eat to live, not live to eat.
The Unhealthy State of Obesity
There is a battle going on with obesity in the United States and the world. Many people are losing this battle. Find out the cause and effects obesity. Read all about it!
We are under a global attack of lipids! They are the aliens within us, and they are fiercely fighting to take over the lives of everyone on the planet! They are relentlessly attacking us with their arch weaponry—the blubber-complex. Their mission is simple, obliterate earth with the blubber-complex until it becomes fatal. We need to regain control in other to defeat this archenemy to our health. The accretion of too much fat in the body is a medical condition associated with obesity. Overeating and physical inactivity are mostly the chief culprits. Obesity is one of the many increasing health problems in the world today. It poses a significant threat to the quality of life and health of millions of people worldwide. The time to stop obesity is now—no more procrastination.
“We struggle with eating healthily, obesity, and access to good nutrition for everyone. But we have a great opportunity to get on the right side of this battle by beginning to think differently about the way that we eat and the way that we approach food.” — Marcus Samuelsson.
Obesity affects individuals in all social strata. The battle over the bulge is real, and people in urban cities in Europe and America have the highest percentage of obese individuals. However, due to an economic growth explosion and an increasing middle class in developing countries, obesity is rising. Also, once considered a problem of the wealthy, obesity is now increasing in low-income and middle-income homes, particularly those in urban areas. Within the last two decades, governments worldwide have woken up to the need to curb the menace posed by this disease. Nations are now introducing measures that help with creating awareness of the causes and ways to manage them.
How to Measure Obesity
In a document on their web page, the Harvard School of Public Health highlights several ways of “Measuring Obesity.” I will not go all technical on you all by going into too much detail about each method but will call them out for emphasis. The most common and fundamental of all is the body mass index (BMI). The BMI measures the person’s weight in kilogram divided by the square of their height in meters (kg/m2). Other field methods like BMI used in clinics and various communal settings are waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, skinfold thicknesses, and bioelectrical impedance.
Concerning BMI, since it is the most basic, an adult BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. For children and those in their teens (2-18years), the body fat content associated with a given BMI depends critically on the sex, age, race, and developmental stage of the child. Here are some instances, a BMI Classification of <18.5 kg/m2 shows an increased health risk for the person (NB. The person might be bulimic). Normal BMI is between 18.5-24.9 kg/m2. The health risk begins to build when someone falls within the ranges of 25.0-29.9 kg/m2—the person is classified as overweight. Scales between 30.0-34.9 kg/m2 are classified as Obese Class 1, and the health risks are high. Ranges between 35.0-39.9 kg/m2 are classified as Obese Class 2, and the health risks are very high. Finally, series >40 kg/m2 are classified as Obese Class 3, and the health risks become notably high. The information presented here is very insightful.
As further presented in the Harvard School of Public Health document on their webpage highlights several ways of “Measuring Obesity,” we have some other methods of measuring obesity that is a little bit more complicated than just fundamental. These methods are classified as “reference measurement”-techniques. Some of these methods are as follows: Underwater Weighing (Densitometry); Air-Displacement Plethysmography; Dilution Method (Hydrometry); Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), and Computerized Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). For more information, be sure to visit the Harvard School of Public Health website to gain more information on these techniques.
Obesity Prevalence Fast Facts
In this section of this article, let us look at some common facts about obesity from a global and domestic perspective from other sources. Global research by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
Global research by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016. Here were some facts from this study in 2016: (a). More than 1.9 billion overweight adults (i.e., >18 years). 650 million of them were obese. (b). 39% of adults (i.e., >18 years)—39% of men and 40% of women—were overweight. (c). 13% of the world’s adult population—11% of men and 15% of women—were obese. (d). 124 million children and adolescents (5-19 years)—6% of girls and 8% of boys—were obese.1
In November 2015, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data report with facts that would make anyone cringe. Some of the conclusions in this survey were as follows: (a). More than 17% of U.S. youths were obese. (b). Obesity was higher among women (38.3%) than men (34.3%). (c). There was more obesity amongst middle-aged (40.2%) and older (37.0%) when compared to younger (32.3%) adults. (d). Obesity was prevalent among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic adults and youth than among non-Hispanic Asian adults and youths.2
Causes of Obesity
Various factors contribute directly or indirectly to people becoming obese. Some of these factors are as follows:
First, the energy imbalance between calorie intake and calories expended is the leading cause of obesity. Many people eat much unhealthier food on the fly with little or no exercise, leading to obesity. It is much easier to gain a pound than to lose it.
Second, having an eating disorder or an unhealthy binge-eating pattern. For instance, the increased intake of energy-dense foods (e.g., junk foods—high cholesterol foods) that are high in fat can lead to obesity.
“Europeans fought for shorter workdays, more vacation time, family leave, and all these kinds of things. Those haven’t been priorities in America: it’s been about money. You see, in the countries that fought for time, they cook more often; they have less obesity. There are real benefits to having time.” — Michael Pollan.
Third, a spike in physical inactivity. The factor of physical inactivity stemming from more stationary work modes, switching modes of commute (e.g., switching from riding a bicycle to work to drive more, catching the bus or train removes the physical activity element), and increasing urbanization can lead to more obesity.
Fourth, some medical conditions can cause obesity. For instance, Hypothyroidism (i.e., low production of the thyroid hormone that helps with metabolism); Cushing’s syndrome (i.e., excess cortisol production leads to lipid accumulation); and depression.
Furthermore, from a medical perspective, taking some prescription medications, chiefly steroids, certain antidepressants, antipsychotics, high blood pressure medications, and seizure medications, could cause obesity.
Consequences of Obesity
Obesity widely affects the social, medical, and economic spheres of people’s lives. It diminishes the health and psychosocial well-being as well as socioeconomic prospects of affected individuals and populations. From a psychosocial perspective, for instance, people that are obese have low self-esteem. Because of how they look, they may find it difficult to build meaningful social relationships and connections. We live in an age that idolizes people that have a very slim physique. Because of this, people who are obese find it difficult to fit into society. Sometimes, they also run into difficulty finding clothing that fits them. However, this variation is being fixed by clothing lines springing up that are dedicated to plus-size people.
Still dwelling on the psychosocial effects, children who are obese face a hard time in their early school years. They often become reclusive or become overly combative as they face the stigma of other students taunting them and calling them names. For those that become reclusive, they are warding off this hostility by keeping to themselves. Some resort to fighting as their social mechanism for fighting off such resentment and bullying. This condition lands these kids into the quagmire of solitude and depression. In some cases, the aftermath has become deadly as some people go down a very dark path and even take their own lives in the process—a sorry state that is not advisable, to say the very least. Society must stand against this hostility and abuse and find ways to help these overweight or obese individuals.
From a socioeconomic perspective, being obese can also be devastating. For instance, when you are morbidly obese, some organizations will saliently deny you of a certain level of life insurance benefit. They will allow the overweight person to have the basic life insurance package they offer to everyone else in the same organizational strata as that individual. However, some of these organizations will saliently opt-out of approving any higher life insurance benefits for these individuals. Organizations will not accept this upfront to prevent discriminatory lawsuits. However, they are doing this to circumvent having to pay a premium life insurance package payout in the advent of a loss of life of the overweight or morbidly obese person. So, in an age of versatile techno-economic advancement and organizational adventure and dynamism, to be overweight is a competitive disadvantage.
Still dwelling on the socioeconomic effects, being obese lowers the economic productivity of the workforce. In past leadership and management positions that I have held, I have seen the impact of obesity on lowering productivity. For instance, on many occasions, people who have better body weight are nimbler in getting work done at a faster pace. Many overweight or obese individuals tend to work slower, which reduces productivity, especially in a task-driven culture. On some rare occasions, I have seen some overweight people move at a faster pace than those who have better body weight. Everyone is different—different strokes for different folks. However, the bottom line of this fact is that obesity lowers the productivity of the workforce on many occasions. Because of this, some human resource teams and recruiters may saliently reject obese talent for those who have an average body structure.
There are health risk consequences of obesity. The English language-idiom stipulates that “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and the picture above this paragraph highlights some of the health conditions that obesity could cause. Obesity can contribute to decreased longevity and increased disability. Being obese could also lead to death. Do you know that being overweight can lead to individuals developing a cardiovascular condition, stroke, diabetes, and some types of malignancy or cancer that can lead to premature death? For instance, I have heard of situations where people lost their lives because of being morbidly obese. When you are overweight and obese, your body structure and functionality begin to depreciate. Is dying prematurely due to obesity worth it? That is for me to state and for the reader to consider. Obese and overweight individuals need to rethink and start changing their behaviors before it is too late.
Obesity is associated with over 40 medical conditions. Apart from Diabetes (Type 1 and 2) and cardiovascular diseases, people that are obese suffer from “sleep debt,”—which is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. Extended sleep debt can lead to physical and mental fatigue. Obesity is also known to cause sleep apnea (i.e., sleep-disordered breathing that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep, preventing oxygen from reaching the brain). People that are obese also have musculoskeletal disorders (e.g., osteoarthritis, degenerative disease of the joints, etc.). The types of malignancy or cancers that obesity could cause are endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon cancers. Obesity could also cause disability in adulthood, respiratory insufficiency, hypertension, stroke, etc. Obesity in children or adults could result in premature death. Having low self-esteem is an early marker of the psychological effect of obesity.
12 Possible Ways of Fighting Obesity
From all that we have seen in this article, we can all agree that the bulge’s battle is fierce. From the facts above, it may seem that the Lipids are winning the war and may have the upper hand in the campaign; however, we have the will and the freedom to fight back fiercely to regain our lean and beneficial independence! The mission of this editorial is to stimulate readers who are overweight, obese, and living an unhealthy lifestyle to have a rethink and change their habits. Fight back and win the battle of the bulge. Many people reading who are suffering from this condition must be asking, “How do we fight obesity?” How can we win this battle and make a U-turn towards a better and healthier lifestyle?
A healthy diet and physical exercise are the two principal ways of combating obesity. Once you can regulate what you eat, the amounts of such foods that consume, and adding regulated physical activity to your daily routine; you are then on the right path to fighting obesity. Remember, you are what you eat! The following steps are essential in gaining the upper hand in the fight against obesity:
First, you need to get in the habit of consuming low energy-dense or high-calorie foods. It is easier to gain one pound than to do what it takes to lose it. So, it will be in your best interest to cut the habit completely today or at least reduce your indulgence in such foods.
Second, you will need to lower your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Sugar has the power to instigate you to eat more, burn fewer calories, and get fat in the process. So, do yourself a favor and cut down on the soda and other excessive sweet drinks.
Third, you will need to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. They contain fiber and have low energy density. Fruits are a minor source of fructose for the diet. Excess consumption of fructose can be very deadly to your health.
Fourth, increasing the initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding of infants will help nursing mothers lose weight. You naturally burn calories while producing milk for breastfeeding. For nursing women, this could be a way to lose weight.
Fifth, you will need to increase physical activity across your lifespan. As you age, your body tends to slow down its activity levels. It would be best if you made a deliberate attempt to stay physically active. Be intentional about it—hit the gym, go for a walk—do something.
Sixth, still on a physical activity perspective, you need to institute a routine of exercising at least 15-20 minutes daily. Making this a habit will make you stay healthy and stay in shape. Start small, and as you build stamina, you can increase your duration.
Seventh, make sure that you drink plenty of water. Water is 100% calorie-free and can assist in burning calories. If consumed before meals, it can help suppress appetite. 4–8 Glasses (8-oz) is adequate. Please don’t overdo it, though, to prevent water toxicity.
Eight, you need to avoid excessive alcohol intake and smoking. Quitting altogether is the best option, in my opinion. Excessive alcohol intake could lead to excess calories required by the body. Some studies say that smoking increases pesky abdominal or visceral fat.
Ninth, there must be an augmented societal response to the causes and conditions of obesity. For instance, society should collectively assist in reducing the stigma and discrimination towards obesity. Society should motivate, not destroy.
Tenth, there needs to be an increased development and dissemination of guidelines for society’s physical education standards. For instance, all schools need to adopt a rooted regime towards sports and other physical activities. Check out 10 Reasons Why Sports Should Be a Requirement in Schools.
Eleventh, some people resort to surgery. For instance, in some extreme cases, some people resort to liposuction to remove excess adipose tissues. Sometimes this can be successful; sometimes, this could be fatal. However, it is better not to get to this stage in the first place.
Twelfth, some people resort to taking medications. For instance, some people fight obesity by using over the counter and prescription slimming medications—which may or may not be successful. However, a focus on exercise and diet is a healthier option for weight loss.
Exit from the State of Obesity! Enter the State of the Physically Fit! For overweight or borderline obese individuals, this should be your mission and goal towards weight loss and self-transformation. The problem of obesity is primarily a mental thing. If you are overweight or obese, you need to recondition your mind and believe that you can make a core transformation of your life. You need to come to a point where you make a hardcore decision to change the habits that lead you towards a downward spiral regarding your weight and health. In this article, you have seen the causes, consequences, and health risks attributed to obesity. You have also seen how you can fight this battle. What more will you ask for? As we said earlier, your health is your wealth. Let me also say this, “Your weight is your wealth. A good weight assures good health. In turn, good health can assure great wealth.” It is senseless to continue the downward spiral that could take you prematurely six feet under the dirt. The ball is now in your court, and you could make a hundred and eighty degrees turn and start heading towards the upward direction of good health.
“In our fast-forward culture, we have lost the art of eating well. Food is often little more than fuel to pour down the hatch while doing other stuff – surfing the Web, driving, walking along the street. Dining al desko is now the norm in many workplaces. All of this speed takes a toll. Obesity, eating disorders and poor nutrition are rife.” — Carl Honore.
A word is enough for the wise. So be wise and begin to change your mindset. You can become healthy. You can shed those extra pounds of weight. You can shift yourself to your best physical self ever. You have seen all the weight-loss strategies that have been stipulated in this article. Choose a method or two and begin your resistance against the lipid insurgency that is increasing your waistline. Get to exercising, get to dieting. Cut your appetite for excess calories before it cuts your life short. Don’t forget; you are what you eat. Also, add this byline to it, “You become what you eat.” In other words, if you consume excess calories uninhibitedly, then you will become a visible bank of blubber. Believe that you can, and you will become healthy again. With faith and concerted actions, you can make your dreams of a complete body transformation a total reality. Don’t let obesity master you—become the master of obesity as you shed that excess weight. Trust me; you will love your new you after you do. Don’t let the Lipids leap up in victory and win. Brace yourself for the fight and cultivate the will to win the battle of the bulge.
- World Health Organization [WHO]. (2018). Obesity and overweight. Retrieved from www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
- Center of Disease Control [CDC]. National Center for Health Statistics. (2015). Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2011–2014. C L. Ogden, M. D. Carroll, C. D. Fryar, & K .M. Flegal (Eds). (No. 219). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.pdf
Ketogenic Dieting the African Way
What can weight watchers do to keep off this weight while still eating nutritious meals permanently? One such diet that avid weight watchers are arguing as one of the safest food diet programs one could get to keep the weight off permanently is the Ketogenic Diet. Let us now look at Ketogenic dieting the African way. Please, read all about it!
The need to maintain a healthy lifestyle today has become intensely crucial. This has created a thriving organic food industry in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Many obese individuals and those who desire to lose weight are always looking for the next best diet program on the market. Some have dabbled into many diet regimes sold as the most effective solution to lasting weight loss, only to come out at the end of the program worse off than they were when they started. While others have worked for some, those who participated in some of these weight loss programs found out that they gained back almost twice the weight they lost once they got off the program. This yo-yo diet regime begs the question of what works. What can weight watchers do to keep off this weight while still eating nutritious meals permanently? One such diet that avid weight watchers are arguing as one of the safest food diet programs one could get to keep the weight off permanently is the Ketogenic Diet. Let’s educate ourselves a little.
The ketogenic diet (fondly called the keto diet) is a diet type that requires those who follow it to consume meals that are rich in healthy fats, minimal protein, and little or no carbohydrate. From a medical perspective, when you consume less than 50 grams of carbs daily, your body will eventually run out of its required body fuel (i.e., blood sugar). When your body is in this state, the process of ketosis commences. Ketosis is when the body begins to break down protein and fat into small food molecules called ketones. The production point for these ketones is in the liver and is used by the body and the brain as fuel when blood sugar is low. In the process, the body begins to shed its weight by catabolizing the excess fat storage in the body. Medical professionals and dieticians used Keto dieting in the 1920s to manage medical conditions such as seizures and epilepsy. Some of these other ailments that ketogenic dieting can remedy are respiratory failures, pediatric cancers, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases, cancers, to mention but a few.
According to Dr. Terry Wahls, “The Herculean challenge with Ketogenic dieting is finding a way of reducing the intake of carbs and protein to the adequate levels that will sustain the state of ketosis. Consuming too much protein channels the body to convert the generated amino acids to glucose. The consumption of excess carbs will not allow the body to produce ketones since the human frame will have the blood sugar it requires. Fat is needed to make ketones.” (Paraphrased). Knowledge of healthy fats is crucial in keto dieting. In the Keto Macrocosm, all fats are not created equal, to say the very least. The medium-chain triglycerides are more desirable than their long-chain counterparts. The body converts these fats (i.e., medium-chain triglycerides) into fuel more efficiently due to their shorter carbon chains. As earlier indicated, converting these fats into body fuel (i.e., ketones) is the heart of ketosis, the backbone, the foundation, and the core of the keto diet regime. What then are the best possible oils of choice for the keto diet? Some are coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, and butter (organic animal fat).
There are various variations of the keto diet. The most researched variants of the keto diet are the Standard and High-Protein keto diets. The difference between the two is the ratio of daily macronutrients (i.e., fat, protein, and carbohydrates) requirements for each of them. The Standard keto diet requires 75% fats, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. Thus, it is high fat, minimal protein, and a low-carb diet. The High-Protein keto diet variant requires 60% fats, 35% protein, and 5% carb. It is like the standard alternative, with an exception to the higher protein content. Besides the standard and the high-protein keto diets, we have two other variants that rely on adding carb refeeds and exercise to the keto diet regimen. The first of these variants is the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD). This involves periods of higher-carb refeeds (e.g., 5 ketogenic days, followed by 2 high-carb days). This is usually great for those adding a high-intensity workout routine to their keto diet regimen. The carb refeed days will be the days that they will be involved in the high-intensity workout. The second variant is the Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD). This variant allows you to add carbs only just before workouts. The CKD and TDK are only for those adding regular exercises to their keto regimen.
Now we have educated ourselves about keto dieting, let us now consider keto dieting from an African perspective, particularly with an emphasis from a Nigerian perspective.
Ketogenic Dieting the African Way
Today, the keto diet has become a word that you hear from almost every African, especially among the womenfolk. Most Africans, especially Nigerian women, who desire to lose weight by every means possible, look for quick fixes that don’t require them to spend several hours in the gym only to burn a mere 300 calories daily. Thus, they fall back on the promise of keto dieting, which allows them to eat delicious meals yet still lose weight. However, their want of a quick fix for weight loss does not rule out the vital importance of exercise in the journey of weight loss and staying healthy. While most available menus that promise to give the desired result are all Western recipes, African keto weight watchers must search to see what is available in their local communities.
Despite this difficulty, the promise of excellent results within the shortest possible time has made the keto diet most appealing for Nigerian women who have wholeheartedly embraced this lifestyle. Its influence was so significant that stores, food marts, and open market vendors started sourcing keto dieting products, such as psyllium husk, cabbage flour, and stevia to satisfy the insatiable need of the new fad. These products are now readily available on most shelves in stores in major cities in Nigeria. These are items that most Nigerians have never heard of before. However, thanks to keto dieting, they have become household names in most homes, African homes, and Nigeria. As the cliché goes, “Where there is a will, there’s a way.” First, they had the will to embrace this type of dieting. Now, the will has paved the way for various channels of accessing keto products.
Regardless of which type of diet you choose to embark on, you must judiciously follow the right balance of fats, proteins, and carbs for the body to achieve ketosis. How can a bona fide African whose main dish comprises mainly 80% carbohydrate reach the high fat and low carbohydrate meal plan required by the keto diet? A determined African dieter must become smart in finding ways to identify and use local foods to be compliant with the keto diet. For instance, in Nigeria, many keto dieters have found various alternatives to achieve their keto diet goals. They have done so by replacing meals made with tuberous and high-carb grain plants such as cassava (Manihot esculenta) flour (e.g., Garri, Fufu), Wheat, Semolina, Amala, and Pounded Yams, with low-or-no-carb vegetable alternatives such as Aubergines or Egg Plant, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Oats, Carrot and Coconut Flours.
There is a delicacy in the Nigerian keto family known as the cabbage rice, as seen in the image above just before this paragraph. This meal replaces the organic rice that is common in most Nigerian homes as a staple diet. Most keto-compliant meals encourage cabbage as a base for most of its meals, especially in the African regime. Cabbage diced to its barest form and mixed with vegetables, seafood, and eggs make a very filling and delicious meal. Cabbage can also be blended, sieved, and cooked to make cabbage fufu, which replaces the local cassava fufu and garri flakes that are also common as an African staple meal, especially in Nigeria. When mixed and slowly cooked over low heat, Aubergines can become a substitute for the ethnic Yoruba Amala meal. It is safe then to surmise that Africans have begun to find healthy keto food substitutes comparable to their local delicacies that are often carb-laden. They can now worry less about missing out on eating their regional food specialties and still pursue their weight loss goals the keto way. We can say that this is a win for keto dieting the African way.
There is still a whole world of exploration when it comes to keto dieting the African way. This article focuses more on African food with a perspective on West African dishes, case-in-point, Nigerian dishes. I firmly believe that other Africans from other nations in West Africa, North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, and South Africa have found ways to the keto diet the African way by finding substitutes to their local dishes. As the Editor-In-Chief of www.oaekpost.com, I would love to learn what other culinary artists and geniuses from other African countries are doing to build an African diet the keto way. So, please, use the comment section, and let’s start a dialogue. Let us know what you are doing to the keto diet the African way regarding your local foods. What keto-dieting-substitutes have you discovered? Until then, for those that keto diet, wishing you a future of health and wealth.
(NB. The thoughts and ideas expressed via this article are not professional medical conjectures. Please, seek out medical counsel from a licensed medical professional or dietician before getting on the Ketogenic Dieting regime).