Broken hearts, late night feasts and independence

Fri, 7 Mar 2014 Source: Essel, Kojo Cobba

On 6th March our beloved country Ghana added yet another year to life as an independent country. Many people marked this occasion with feasting late into the night. Some people overindulged because of happiness but the majority may have done this from heartbreak. The heart break of knowing that we could have done much more with our independence.

I am happy God is omnipotent otherwise Ghana will certainly be one of his masterpieces that would totally confuse him; great weather all year, excellent land for cultivation, an abundance of natural resources, beautiful minds and the list continues. Unfortunately in the midst of our seemingly abundance we carry a bowl in hand begging from people who are less endowed than us.

We have an uphill task as a nation; everyone expects the other to do all the work and when the country through a miracle and no sacrifice wakes up one day as an “industrialized” nation then we will all partake in the milk and honey. People sit aloof and complain and others make ridiculous suggestions but will take no steps to make this a reality. Our best brains think they are too good for mother Ghana, so they will serve other nations till Ghana “wakes up”. People scream patriotism all around. How can we refer to a footballer “sacrificing” for Ghana at the World’s greatest soccer fiesta and returning to base with a handsome cash prize and a new contract under his belt as patriotic while we ignore the graduate teacher living in a mud house built with his bare hands in a village that has no roads and one has to walk several kilometers into town. That teacher deserves much more. At the very least let us recognize them daily. I appreciate our footballers for what they do but let us not ignore the other selfless voiceless patriots.

The words of our National Anthem and Pledge as well as the evergreen “Yen ara yasaase ni” should be part and parcel of us. Maybe we should be reciting these more right from our nursery schools. We should also understand what these golden words mean as a start. After 57 years, we may be heartbroken and drowning our sorrows in food and alcohol but the battle is not yet lost, we have the power to change our fortunes as a nation if we all genuinely do our part from today.

Talking about heartbreaks brings to mind the effect of grief on the heart; loss of a dear one, a relationship gone bad and losing a dear country. These painful events literally break your heart. Recent research shows that losing a loved-one for instance raises the risk of having a Heart Attack by 21-fold and this risk is as high as six times a whole week after. The risk of getting a heart attack when your beloved country seems to be backsliding perpetually has not been determined but my guess is it may rival losing a loved one but the real danger here is that this is persistent. Anyway where do broken hearts go?

I will touch on another point that will generate a lot of controversy and I hope to get feedback from many people including professionals so that together we can build a healthy Ghana. I haven’t been successful at completely taming my abdominal bulge so I may not have it right but current scientific trends are moving away from the age-old eating pattern of “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper”. The body may not be able to distinguish between food (calories) taken at 4pm and one eaten at 9pm. The most important thing is to ensure that you burn more calories or energy than you put in over a 24 hour period and ensure your meals are healthy and just adequate. So if you sit all day long and do not make time to exercise significantly, then you have no business eating much let alone having a heavy supper but if you burn a lot of calories during the day or even exercise in the gym after work then you may be allowed to eat more than an ant. This is especially important when you do weight or strength training making it possible for your body to keep burning calories significantly up to 2 hours after your workout.

I am not suggesting that you eat two balls of kenkey with palm nut soup at 10pm but the point here is exercise appropriately and eat supper, don’t go to bed hungry. If on the other hand you hardly move your muscles all day then you have no business eating like a prince or king no matter the time of the day. What exactly do king’s, prince’s and pauper’s eat? That is another story.

Your choice of food especially at night should be guided by factors such as inability to sleep adequately, presence of conditions such as peptic ulcer disease and of course your health goals among several others but a healthy meal in the right proportions and quantity should not be banned after 6pm. May I borrow the words of Nana Ansah Kwaw “this is my opinion” backed by science and currently being promoted by many wellness experts. Do let me know what your opinion is.



Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

Moms’ Health Club


*Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

Thought for the week – “The myth that carbohydrates are more fattening when eaten later in the day has been strangely persistent.”


• Men’s Fitness Magazine Workout Manual 2014


Columnist: Essel, Kojo Cobba