21.05.2020 Article

Healthy Eating And Lifestyle Modifications

By Ama Pokua Opoku Afriyie, Registered and Licensed Dietician
Healthy Eating And Lifestyle Modifications
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It is better to fight this battle fully armored as established in the last article rings a deafening bell. This bell churns no other sound than that of healthy living and lifestyle changes.

Healthy living and lifestyle modifications are mainly denoted by adaptation to healthy eating and appropriate dietary habits.

As a Dietician and Nutrition expert in Ghana, I must admit that a huge chunk of the population hardly sees the need of identifying discrepancies in dietary patterns which is worrisome to denote as an acknowledgement of the problem is the first step to achieving dietary and lifestyle modifications.

The average Ghanaian meal consists of a 70:30 ratio of starchy Carbohydrates to Protein. In extreme cases, an 85:15 ratio of the above nutrients respectively.

There is absolutely no doubt of the importance of starchy carbohydrates in our meal, however, evidenced-based nutrition researches have pointed out the connection between overconsumption of starchy carbohydrates and the rise of noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, etc.

This is a cause for alarm especially in settings like Ghana, where starchy carbohydrates make up the bulk of our meals.

Could that be a reason for the current rise in lifestyle conditions especially diabetes among all age groups in Ghana? Unfortunately, I can not pinpoint that alone as the ultimate cause in the rise of NCDs as age, race, genetic factors and family history can be contributing risk factors.

What I do know and can attest to, however, is the positive role of healthy and balanced meals in the fight against lifestyle diseases. A healthy balanced meal will provide you with adequate fuel to go through the day and perform a daily activity with sharpness, accuracy, and efficiency.

This is because a balanced diet contains the entire food nutrients in the right proportion, tailored to meet our daily nutritional requirements.

In a balanced meal, nonstarchy carbohydrates which is basically vegetables should form the largest portion of that meal, starchy carbohydrates such as our banku, rice, yam, fufu, should be taken in moderate quantities followed by protein, whether a first-class (egg, meat, fish, etc) or second class (nuts and legumes).

Sources of fat and oil should be carefully analyzed. Quantities of lipids in food should be limited as much as possible.

Fruits are essential for the provision of various vitamins and minerals and should be consumed frequently especially in these times as the quest for immune boosts are on the rise.

The quantity of these fruits, however, should be taken into consideration as overconsumption of fructose over long periods of time can be detrimental to our health.

The appropriate adjustments in 3 dimensions of healthy eating, namely, Time, Quality, and Quantity go a long way in the actualization of positive dietary modifications.

Contextualizing healthy living and eating in the Ghanaian setting as purpose in this article will never be complete without local examples of this said meal.

Below is a sample menu of balanced Ghanaian meals. These meals are unquantified general examples and not targeted at any group of persons. I will like to encourage all persons with lifestyle diseases to seek help from a professional such as a Dietician for the planning of a quantified, standardized, individualized dietary plan as per your personal caloric needs, medical conditions, and dietary goals.

BREAKFAST Oatmeal with milk + Wheat Bread Slice(s) + Plate of side vegetable Salad (tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cucumber,carrot etc.)
LUNCH Boiled Unripe Plantain (Apem\Apantu) + Abom (Kontomire\Garden eggs) + 1 Boiled egg
SUPPER Jollof Rice + Vegetable Salads + 1 drumstick of chicken
SNACK OPTIONS (FRUITS) Small orange\apple\mango\tangerine\banana etc.

The writer Ama Pokua Opoku Afriyie, RD. LD. is a Registered and Licensed Dietician

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