I was exhausted already, it was a really long day and I had to buy yet another roasted ripe plantain popularly known as ‘boli’. Then it struck me, I wasn’t even following the diet tips I had just given to my last patient. How sad, I thought. But a few seconds later I was already consoling myself with the fact that this didn’t happen everyday as I actually make conscious effort to actually eat a variety of meals. The consolation wasn’t as important as the realisation that this is basically what happens to everyone. You know what to do but you tend not to sometimes because you think it’s hardwork, especially in the face of a stressful job and unending traffic in the major cities.
Despite busy schedules and little life worries, we can’t afford to leave our health to chance.The saying, “You are what you eat”, never grows old. That’s precisely because it’s 100% true. For the ladies, it can be likened to what an awesome set of original make up products does to your make-over results. And for guys, it’s no news what good fabric does for your ‘Agbada’.
Amidst the work, family, business palava and hustle, there are really easy health habits you can cultivate today. I advice you incorporate them into your schedule one at a time, to increase chances of consistency.
1. Think water, drink water:
Becoming friends with this often underrated drink is the beginning of wisdom. The human body is made up of about 60% water, little wonder our body thrives better with adequate quantities of this ‘God given’ clear liquid. The aim is about 2-3L per day. Just have a bottle at hand always filled with water (flavoured with some citrus fruit like lemon or orange to make the more interesting), to make it easier and when you think it, please drink it.
2. Ignore the Junk food category:
If we knew the measure of sugar, salt, and refined ingredients in many junk foods then we may better appreciate what it does to our health. Habitual junk food ingestion, including drinking soda (which you always want to use to ‘wash’ it down, Lol), has been linked to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. To make this easy, write five reasons why you like fast food, then check if those reasons are valid enough to allow an increase in your risk of having a number of diseases that you may have to keep treating for life. Then make a list of your favourite junk foods and fizzy drinks, and strike them off one after the other as you overcome the habitual urge to eat or drink them.
3. Eat only when hungry:
We sometimes find ourselves eating to fulfill all righteousness, either to complete our third meal or just because you were served at that ‘owanbe’. A number of people eat more when angry, stressed or bored. For others, food can just be their favourite complement for a good movie.
Mindless eating is a major reason cause of excessive weight gain and it’s best to wait till you actually feel your stomach empty. This goes even for snacks. But to begin, when you have the urge to eat even when you know you are not hungry, take a healthy snack- a fruit or some nuts.
4. Give vegetables a good part of your plate:
This habit can initially seem daunting especially for people who hate the sight of veggies. But it’s a ticket to more energy, less fat, healthier bodies and more interestingly happier moods. Researchers have seen evidence that several portions of vegetables a day not only boosts mental abilities but can also help fight depression. Not only are they low in calories and fat, they contain antioxidants and vitamins vital to our body’s repair mechanism, including potassium which helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
There are a number of Nigerian soups rich in vegetables like Efo riro of the Yorubas, and Ofe onugbu of the Igbos, but just try not to overcook them in the pot of soup next time for optimal benefits.
5. Eat early:
‘Eat O’ clock’ should be limited to a time frame for more effective hunger management and optimal health. It’s best to have an early breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though, no plan fits all but studies show that having a 6am-6pm time frame is encouraged with an emphasis on having good meal time spacing and eventually an early dinner. Plan your meals during free time in prep for busy days. Feel free to plan healthy snacks too, instead of waiting to buy whatever is available and thus doubling your risk of picking up an unhealthy option.
What other habits have you inculcated on your own or based on your doctor’s advice? Let’s hear it!