Eat Your Way To A Healthy 2015

Wed, 31 Dec 2014 Source: Essel, Kojo Cobba

A new year, a new lease on life and an opportunity to write a long list of resolutions. I need no crystal ball to determine what you have on your list for 2015 because the majority of us will have “improving on our health” among the top 5.

Unfortunately most of us would have given up the fight long before the first quarter ends. Many of us fail in our resolutions because we do not prepare; we simply make a list and hope that God will be magnanimous enough to see us through. This year let us try something new by starting off with some basic preparation and I will tackle a few points on eating right. I hope this will make it easier for you to at least stay on track with what gets into your mouth all through the year.

Hopefully over the next few minutes we can learn basic steps to prevent being victims of what we eat. Did it ever occur to you that you have been spending good money to buy food that may actually be killing you? Years ago I read a book titled “The Seven Deadly Sins” and the author listed gluttony as one of them. I am not sure what he meant by gluttony because that may vary from individual to individual but one thing is certain food will not only destroy your body, it may cause you to do other things that may even affect your salvation.

I like the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet; not only can it help you to control your blood pressure, it can also help you maintain a good weight and generally keep you healthy. It does not exclude any food group.

So Ready! Set! Let us eat to a healthy 2015;

1. Do Not skip breakfast

a. Most overweight people skip breakfast in an attempt to cut down on calories but eventually end up eating more in the course of the day because they feel hungrier. Avoiding this all important meal also means you have less energy to perform your activities for the day.

b. If your breakfast contains protein and fibre then it is likely to last you till lunch time.

c. This is no call to avoid lunch and supper, you need these too and if you require a snack in between a fruit is an ideal choice.

2. All food groups are important

a. No food group is outright evil. It is the type and quantity that causes havoc. Just as you need proteins so do you need good fats and healthy carbohydrates. A professional may guide you to omit one food group briefly but do not do this on your own.

3. Watch your portion sizes

a. Do not heap your plate with food; this is not your last meal and hopefully there will be other times to eat again. If you can simply not trust yourself with small portion sizes then kindly use smaller plates. Your brain could be tricked into believing once it is heaped, then it must be a lot.

4. Eating is no sprint

a. There is a little disconnect between your brain and stomach. It takes fifteen to twenty minutes for your brain to recognize that you are full so to avoid overeating take it easy and chew your food properly.

5. Hunger or thirst?

a. Sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger. Whenever you feel hungry, drink a glass of cool clean water before you tackle the food. Do not hesitate to drink some water during your meal as well as after. Digestion is great in a medium of water and you invariably eat less when you have water in your stomach taking up some of the priceless space.

b. Water is no weight loss pill but it keeps you healthy and may help you to eat less.

6. All or none

a. This is my favourite and I believe you may also find it useful. Eating appropriately does not mean avoid everything you like (except your doctor and real dietitian advice), you could have a little of your favourite meal occasionally (even if it is outright unhealthy). This ensures that you do not develop “withdrawal symptoms” and rather end up throwing caution to the wind and binging on this meal.

You may have guessed that I am a big proponent of the DASH diet, so I will share a few tips with you. It is not much different from what my health conscious readers have been eating.

1. Cut the SALT

a. Most of us are aware that we need to reduce salt to the barest minimum. Certainly you do not add salt to cooked food but what about “hidden” salt in smoked, cured or pickled food. What about salted snacks. Start reading food labels and in the absence of one let your tongue be the judge.

2. Get your GRAINS

a. Brown rice, whole wheat bread and unsalted popcorn belong to this group.

3. FRUITS are a must

a. Fruits are packed with potassium and magnesium, which help to lower blood pressure. They are also loaded with vitamins that are essential in our wellbeing. Spice up your breakfast, add a fruit.

4. Make VEGETABLES your delight

a. These low calorie products packed with goodness should always find their way onto your plate. They contain no fat but have a lot of fibre, vitamins and minerals. The more varied your vegetables are the better. Try out different coloured vegetables.

5. FISH and LEAN MEAT are allowed

a. Skinless chicken is great and so is fish. You must have heard about Omega-3 in fish. You had better take off the skin of the chicken before you cook it.

6. Do NOT gloss over NUTS & LEGUMES

a. Dried beans and peas belong to this group. These are also rich in proteins, magnesium and fibre.

7. Minimize FATS & OILS

a. Use olive or canola if you can afford otherwise use vegetable oil sparingly.

8. SWEETS are NOT a NO go area

a. Yes, you may even have an occasional sweet but it should be only a small piece and the watch word here is OCCASSIONAL.

Congratulations! You have the basic ingredients to help you stay on track when it comes to the eating aspect of your 2015 health resolution. Keep going, get back on track even when you slack sometimes and together we will be healthier at the end of the year.



Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

Moms’ Health Club


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

Thought for the week –“The most EFFICIENT way to reach your REALISTIC health GOALS is to make SMALL HEALTHY choices DAILY.”


1. www.mayoclinic.com

2. Webmd.com

Columnist: Essel, Kojo Cobba