Food means a lot for us Nigerians and it features in many events from religious to entertainment. In as much as we love food, we have failed in practicing proper feeding habits as food abuse is a norm for Nigerians. Perhaps, due to ignorance of proper feeding habits, we as a Nation have forgotten how to eat; we are caught up in many activities, eating is often relegated to the least. Forgetting that what we consume has an impact on our longevity.
It’s not uncommon to find persons gulping a cup of tea en route work or chewing/swallowing while walking or talking. These approaches to eating are quite disturbing but more disturbing are the quantity of food we consume per meal. The picture below is not uncommon among Nigerians.
There are various spectrum on the band of food abuse but for the purpose of this article, I am interested in focusing on the rapacious appetite of Nigerians. Aside from the fact that I profess Nutrition, I have earned the right to discuss this topic because I have being a compulsive eater who uses food to assert control whenever life seems overwhelming to me, I also use food whenever I am not content with the moment as it is. So far, I have been working towards healing these tendencies. And there is progress as I am more conscious of my relationship with food.
As a Nation we need to realize the real purpose of food, to remember that it’s firstly for nourishment then pleasure. We need to reassess how we use food and walk toward imploring it properly. And, the first step would be to watch our intentions before eating to identify why we decide to nibble when we do and be conscious of how we do it. More importantly the portion sizes of our meals. This is pertinent because Nigerians are voracious eaters. Unfortunately, when it comes to nourishing the body, we need just a little.
An average man of 5 feet and 6 inches tall who works in a building with a flight of stairs and weights about 70kg will need just about 2000kcal, this would roughly amount to 2 cups of vegetables e.g. greens, spinach, ugu, oha, a cup of vegetable B e.g. carrots, peas, cucumber e.t.c, ½ of a medium sized pineapple, 2 glass of milk (skimmed) about 4 cubes of sugar and 5 cups of rice for a whole day; a cup is equivalent to an empty tin of peak milk. These can be distributed throughout the day to meet the required dietary needs.
Scientists show that eating less could actually be a path towards longevity. It was discovered that the two biomarkers i.e indicators of longevity — low fasting insulin level and body temperature were found in rodents whose caloric intake was restricted and it’s been speculated to be so in humans as well.
As Nigerians we tend to obtain our calories from one meal type and could get all these calories from a big bowl of eba and vegetable soup with offal and meat and most times we eat with a bottle of soda making our meals more concentrated than it should be. As a result of this types of meals and portion sizes, we eat more than is required in a day and this is the reason for the skyrocketing rates of obesity and obesity related illness and deaths in our society.
It’s not too late to take a detour and begin to eat for the right reasons and to show prudence at the table because science has now shown that as with everything, when it comes to food, less is actually more.
Hello! I am Clare Udeagwu. I studied Biochemistry and Nutrition. I am a freelance Nutritionist and writer and work part-time at Foodsense. I love food and struggle daily to remain a master over food and not the other way round. I am also passionate in helping people gain mastery over food as they journey through an active and fulfilling life. So, welcome on board.