Eating appropriately is often so confusing. I find it much easier to deal with foods than to go through a whole list of nutrients.

Many of us will love to eat healthily but we are limited by our finances, time and knowledge. Our aim should be to make small changes daily.

The list below should act as guidelines and even if we make one change each week, we will be much healthier and will be able to do more of the things we enjoy twelve weeks from now.

1. Eat a variety of foods; no food is perfect so we need a mix of foods to get all the nutrients we need.
2. Eat more fruits and vegetable products and fewer animal products. Deep green and yellow-orange vegetables are great. Our own kontomire falls into this group.
3. Eat more fresh and home-made foods and fewer processed foods. Minimize fast food and junk food. Reduce canned foods to the barest minimum.
4. Choose your fats wisely. Cut down on meat, the skin of poultry, whole dairy products, fried foods and commercial baked foods. Get “good fats” from fish and nuts. Shy away from full cream milk and opt for low fat/low cholesterol versions.
5. Eat protein in moderation. Favour fish and skinless poultry (chicken and turkey) and boil, grill or bake instead of frying. Beans and tofu are great. Eggs are wonderful but limit it to one yolk a day. The case of eggs reminds me of giving a dog a bad name and hanging. Limit intake of red meat such as beef.
6. Watch your carbohydrates. Cut down on simple sugars. Highly refined products made with white flour will not be of much help to you. Many soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices are loaded with sugar. Whole grains and brown rice will do wonders to us but our taste buds will demand for some polished and perfumed rice. Unsalted seeds and nuts (groundnuts/peanuts) will give us joy.
7. Restrict your sodium intake by avoiding or minimizing processed foods and salt.
8. Eat more potassium-rich foods, such as citrus fruits (orange), bananas and other fruits and vegetables. Eat more calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy products, broccoli, spinach, and tofu
9. Choose healthy oils such as olive and canola. Avoid partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Use oils sparingly. No matter how healthy your choice of oil may be, heating it excessively will destroy its benefits.
10. If you drink alcohol it should be minimal. Do not start drinking alcohol because you want to reap its touted health benefits. Women in the child-bearing age should avoid alcohol. Good clean water is always a winner.
11. Starvation is not the key. Many times we skip meals in an attempt to cut down our calories and eventually lose fat. Unfortunately we often end up short-changing ourselves. Since food is fuel for our body its absence may mean; our brain may not function adequately, we fatigue easily, may experience headaches and have difficulty concentrating. The process may make weight control extremely difficult and we are even predisposed to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and high cholesterol.

Make a conscious attempt to plan your meals to avoid grabbing whatever is in sight when hunger strikes. Always remember that breakfast is crucial and ideally should be eaten within two hours of waking up. Whatever you eat especially the quantity/energy within the food should be based on your level of physical activity. The sedentary bank staff should not be competing for food honours with someone digging a trench.

The points listed above do not apply to people with health conditions who have consulted a dietician. Stick to your dietician’s menu since it has been customized to fit you and your medical condition.

Eating appropriately is only part of the work. You will need to increase your level of physical activity to reap the maximum benefits.

The quick-fix diet plans will always short change you. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club/Health Essentials

Dr. Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

Thought for the week – “We are what we eat: would you build a body on a foundation of unhealthy fast foods or a homemade healthy balanced diet including fruits and vegetables? Make that decision today.”

1. Primed Patient Education Center
2. www.mayoclinic.com