The Great African Misconception on Weight Gain | Africans, Africa’s Healthy choices, weight loss, african mentality,

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  1. Weight Gain is considered a sign of good health and wealth in Africa.
  2.  Weight Gain is a blessing from God.
  3.  When you have a large stature you are taken more seriously.
  4.  Ghanaians call “big” people “Tintin Gramo” or Okesea meaning big and tall or huge. Leaner people are called “lenge lenge” meaning skinny but this carries a stigma of poor nutrition or poverty.
  5. Pot Bellies are called the “Sikafuo” meaning belly of wealth.
  6. A married woman who does not gain weight is either in a bad marriage or is married to a poor man.

Interestingly all the above are inaccurate and contrary to the truth.
Overweight and obesity are actually markers of poor health.
Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease, cancers and strokes which happen to be the three leading causes of death among people of African origin.
Finally obesity has been associated with increased in all causes of mortality.  As your BMI (weight) increases, your chances of dying early increases.
With this knowledge, it is inconceivable that God will “bless” anyone with obesity. He gives us just the right weight for our heights.

You can now check your BMI or how well your weight correlates with your height here. You can also learn tips on weight loss specifically for people of African origin.  Weight loss tips that have worked for others may be shared in the comments sections. Together we can all transform our lives through lifestyle modifications. God bless you…

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Why am I cutting calories but not losing weight?

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  1. “I have a slower metabolism.”

Women especially tend to have lower muscle mass. The average woman has 46lb of muscle and the average man has 72 lbs of muscle. Since muscles consume 7 calories at rest1, men lose weight much more easily compared to women. The way around this for women is to increase their physical activity. Going to the gym, walking, running, forming and joining health groups, etc…

 

  1. “I don’t eat breakfast.”

Breakfast tells your body and your brain it is awake and you should start consuming energy. When you don’t eat breakfast the body is still in conservation mode so it holds on to water and puts the whole body under slow metabolism. With breakfast your entire system wakes up to consuming energy which ultimately leads to weight loss. Avoid high sugar breakfasts though.  Fruit, oats, whole wheat cereal and the like are much better options.

3. “I eat too late”

Eating too late at night has multiple effects on your health including weight gain, increase in acid reflux (Heart Burn), and increase nightly urination. The weight effects follows the same principles eating to meet your caloric needs. At night the body obviously slows down its metabolism. As a result all the extra energy in the food will be stored as fat. Eating during the day  allows most of the energy to be used during a higher metabolic state. The rule of thumb is eat 2-3 hours before sleeping. Other tricks include; 1. Eat before going to evening service. This way you burn most of the calories at church rather than coming home to eat rice and stew then go to sleep. 2. Eat supper before the night shift. This way you avoid eating Kenkey at 2 am or coming home to eat Banku and okra soup in the morning before sleeping. And finally on those nights when you absolutely have to eat something choose wisely. An apple, one banana and peanuts, a cup of strawberries, a salad or egg whites are all smart choices.

4. “I am stressed.”

Stress is a major contributor to weight gain. Under stress our body secretes a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, tells the body to hold on to energy and water as an adaptation to the stress. This leads to weight gain and difficulty to lose weight.

 

Stress can come from any source; marital problems, family issues, work and school related problems, and church issues.

 

The solution is improved stress management. In America or the Western world, stress is part of everyday life. We cannot avoid it. The goal is to learn how to deal with it. Here are some coping mechanisms:

 

  1. Let things go.
  2. Enjoy the things you love most: Family and friends.
  3. Take a break: Take a vacation somewhere. Africans for some reason consider that vacations are for white people or for people who don’t have much to do. Vacationing is actually very therapeutic and powerful at helping you de-stress.
  4. Exercise: Working out releases hormones called endorphins. These are known as “feel-good hormones” which can counteract the harmful effects of stress. Besides, you reap all the benefits of increasing physical activity.
  5. Connect with God: Having a meaningful relationship with God is another powerful way of avoiding stress and de-stressing. I find prayer, worship and meditation as potent liberator of my inner being, releasing one of all the entanglements of life.

 

 

  1. “I have a medical condition.”

Certain medical conditions make one vulnerable to weight gain. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are notorious for causing weight gain. Again medications such as steroids (Prednisone, Methylprednisolone, Dexamethasone) lead to water retention which results in weight gain. The solution:  If you have done all the right things such as eating well, increasing physical activity and you are still not losing weight, speak to your doctor.

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Operation Cut 500 calories a day!

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From the previous blog we learned that cutting 500 calories a day is equivalent to 3500 calories a week which is equal to 1 pound of body fat. In other words, you can lose 1 pound a week by cutting 500 calories from your diet everyday for the next 6 months.

For the African, cutting calories is quite easy. Our meals come in  insanely high calories, it is very easy to start cutting down.

Take for instance 1 Ball of a small Ga Kenkey (400g) has a whopping 1440 calories!

Think about it, the total daily requirement is 2000 calories for the average person,  just one ball of Kenkey  is 1440 calories. After adding meat and stew you are tallying between 2000 and 2200 calories. Right, scary…

Kenkey

So by even reducing the Kenkey by 1/3 its size, (cut Kenkey into 3 parts, consume 2 out of the 3 pieces) you can cut out 480 calories easily. By also reducing the amount of the oil in the stew or cutting down on the meat or fish you would have exceeded the 500 calories we are trying to cut.

Even better is to avoid Kenkey as much as possible. Kenkey is a great meal for Ghanaians in Ghana where we walk to the store, the church, and to visit neighbors. In America, or the Western world, our reduced physical activity doesn’t allow us to consume such high caloric meals.

Let’s consider white rice. 1 Cup of cooked rice brings in 240 calories(1 cup dry is 720 calories). The average person can easily consume 4 cups or more of cooked rice, which comes up to 920 calories! The average tomato stew is 250 calories for ¼ of a cup. 1 fried chicken drumstick is 200 calories. The average person goes for two. (By the way, the total protein requirement in a day is the size of two drumsticks…Yes!) So we end up with 400 calories on the chicken and 1570 calories on the meal! Again with that meal we have gotten daringly close to the average of 2000 calories needed in a day.

By cutting the rice down by 2 cups we would have saved 480 calories. And by reducing the amount of oil in the stew by just 1 table spoon per serving we save an extra 600 calories. Well, 600 calories is the equivalent of a man jogging for 1 hr or walking for 2 hrs 30 minutes.

Imagine doing this for 2 or more meals you can easily cut over 100o calories a day.

On our CD/DVD we go through several Ghanaian dishes and how to adjust them to cut 500 to 1000 calories a day while at the same time increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. You can also visit our nutrition center for the calories of almost all Ghanaian dishes. With this tool you can start making the right adjustments.

Understandably, when you start cutting calories you are going to feel hungry at some point during the day. This brings us to a very important point which is increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts in our daily foods. I call them “hunger breakers.” Always have an apple, a mango, a cup of strawberries, or a Ziploc of blueberries on you. Other options can always be a small bowl of almonds or walnuts. They serve as a much better alternative to cookies and some other “junk food” we use as snacks.

Consuming fruits and vegetables and making them part of your daily life brings untold benefits. For a start their fiber content create a feeling of fullness which cuts down your overall caloric intake from other sources such as rice or corn. Fiber is also known to hold on to sugar and fat molecules preventing their absorption from the gut. By this they decrease the glycemic index of sugars and starches. They decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. They also protects you against heart disease, stroke and several cancers. Not to mention the antioxidants they bring along which detoxifies your blood, reducing cell damage and inflammation. This ultimately prevents cancers and a myriad of chronic diseases.

Getting on the scale

I recommend an electronic scale where you see the decimals as well.

Now since this method implies you will be losing some weight every day, you will have to get on the scale every morning.

I know this goes against what we know about weight loss. But here is the trick. When you get on the scale every morning you should see some drop in your weight like 0.05 lb.  some little fraction. Sometimes as in my case I could lose about a pound a day depending on how much I cut.

If your weight is not going down on the scale it indicates you did something wrong the day before. You either overate, ate too late or sneaked in some dangerous McD’s or Burger King. This allows you to fix the mistake in a timely manner. Some people recommend getting on the scale in 1-2 weeks. You will have no idea where you went wrong with this.

The Challenge

So here is the challenge to everyone, cut down by 500 to 1000 a day, lose 1-2 pounds a week for 6 to 8 months. You are guaranteed to lose 20 to 30 pounds on just the diet part. Increasing your physical activity will cause you to lose even more calories.

As a caveat, if you are not seeing the needed results you may have other issues playing a role which are addressed in this next article.

Thank you and God be with you on this journey.

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The Secret To Weight Loss | Calories, 500 calories, cutting calories, african food, africas healthy choices

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The million dollar secret to weight loss is to be able to cut 500 calories a day from your diet. That will translate into 3500 calories a week. (500 calories x 7 days in a week = 3500 calories)

Well, it turns out that 3500 calories is equivalent to 1 pound of body fat.

So by losing 3500 calories a week one can safely burn off 1 pound of body fat in 1 week.

This method has been scientifically proven to lead to weight loss without any adverse health consequences. Losing too much weight over a short period of time has been shown to lead to gallstones in women as well as other health problems in both men and women.

This is exactly what I did and in 6 months, I have lost almost 30 lbs. (Of course I increased my physical activity and did a few other simple things which I talk about on my blog)

However the core of this method is the calorie cutting aspect as shown by clinical studies.

That brings us to the next million dollar question which is how to cut out 500 calories a day? Click here to find out how.

Thank you very much and God bless you.

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Healthy Diet Saved My Husband and my Family

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I am a middle aged African woman who gives this account on the world of a difference dietary lifestyle change has made not only in my life but that of my dear husband and children.

My husband was diagnosed with an irreversible autoimmune disease a few years ago. This was a serious condition in which the body makes proteins against itself. With time, the disease attacked his lungs, and many other organ systems. Even the doctors were uncertain of his management, prognosis or how long he was going to live.

The diagnosis and the ensuing series of events completely shook my world and my household. From a dietary standpoint, while we were not the type who ate much fast food, or even ate out on a regular basis, we did enjoy the normal, home-cooked meals that the average African home was accustomed to. Outside of my husband’s condition, no one in my household had much concern in the area of dietary related issues such as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or any of the typical issues attributed to poor diet. All of this changed for the better when I was referred to a naturalist. At first, both my husband and I were skeptical about the whole idea. However, given the dire nature of our situation, we were willing to give anything a try.

What an eye-opening visit it was! The physician exposed us to many enlightening truths both biblical and scientifically, on the benefits of indulging in a diet exclusively consisting of natural fruits and vegetables. He also talked about ways that natural foods can actually rebuild dead cells and properties within the body. He challenged my husband to “go raw,” which meant to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for an entire two-week span and return with a report of his condition. In addition to this, he advised my husband that since his condition impacted his respiratory system, that he should immediately discontinue milk. He explained that one of the largest causes of asthma is found in the cow fat found in milk. The challenge, to say the least was very difficult for my husband. Imagine, the meats and soups and rice centered meals that he knew and loved would all be gone in exchange for fruits in the morning, veggies in the afternoon and salads at night. However, he was committed to giving it a try.

To my utmost joy, within a week he began to express signs of increased energy and even somewhat improved breathing. I even saw it in the way he was able to move around and take care of things around the house for himself. Enjoying this improvement, he was encouraged to complete the challenge given to him by the doctor and to even go beyond two weeks. After nearly two years of remaining consistent with this lifestyle change, his health is stable; he maintains great vital signs, weight and is able to do many things that he couldn’t do when he was first diagnosed.
His decision to continue with this lifestyle change motivated me to also find creative ways to adapt to a better dietary lifestyle for myself and my children. While we did not do a complete overhaul like my husband, there were a number of changes that we made that I believe has contributed to the overall improved health of my entire household. Those change include:

1. Switching from 2% milk to Almond milk and or Coconut milk (Homemade)
2. Using variations of Olive, Coconut, Peanut and Avocado oils to cook and fry(done very seldomly)
3. Using Basmati rice or Brown rice instead of Jasmine rice.
4. Baking/broiling meats and fish instead of frying.
5. Using gluten free products for breads, pastas, pancakes, etc.
6. Using organic products and farm purchased meats

In no way am I giving this testimony to sounds as though making this dietary lifestyle change is a piece of cake. Nor am I saying that it happens at the drop of a hat or flick of a switch. Much of this takes a commitment and a genuine desire to want to ensure that you leave a healthy dietary legacy for not only your generation, but your children’s. I profess with 100% certainty that this dietary change along with prayer, faith and the right frame of mind has made all the world of a difference in my husband’s condition. I am confident that these changes will not only impact my life and that of my husband but will be seeds sown in our children which will manifest in their families and the generations to follow. I attribute this to fundamental dietary changes that I “chose” make.

Thank you.

Happy family enjoying a healthy meal together at home in the kit

A Grateful Wife and Mother
USA. 

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