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Food and Ageing

 

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Firstly, I would like to apologise to the lovely lady I promised to write this blog for. It’s late, I am sorry. But I hope it helps somebody else out there too. So let’s get to it. How do you start eating healthily? My method or way is to start looking at food completely differently and to accept that you will have to change the way you eat for life, especially if you are a woman who has had children, and over 35.  What you eat shouldn’t just be titillating to your taste buds, but nourishing to your body – at least 80% of the time.  I don’t believe you can make permanent and lasting changes without embracing new foods, or new ways of thinking about food, which includes seeing food as fuel, as nourishing and preventative for many modern diseases .

Nothing beats a balanced diet.

The honest truth is simple. A balanced diet is what works. But the problem is most of us don’t know what balance means anymore thanks in part to the food industry and their are just too many people trying to make money off ‘diets’ and ‘food’. Also, portions are out of control and we need to re-learn what moderate means. If you are prepared to re-learn, you will enjoy all food groups; carbs, protein and fats! The honest truth is I enjoy everything, including the crazy modern Nigerian cuisine. I call it crazy and modern because the way the younger generation cook dishes like Efo and Ayamase etc is simply not the way my grandmother cooked or ate it. And she lived past 115 on African food only. But what she ate, and how she prepared it, was a lot simpler than the modern version of loading everything into our delicacies and cooking stew swimming in oil! . The principle  I advocate for is  – simple foods, prepared simply.

Age plays a role

I keep talking about women over 30 and mums in particular, because I am a mum of two and 40 this year!! (bloody depressing!! where did the time go). I know how the body changes, I’ve seen those changes. And what they call ‘middle age’ spread is real. Food choices like refined carbs and sugar will stick to the middle more in middle age, your tummy especially, and especially after 35. I am not one of those 40 year olds that  say “40 is the new 20” babanla oro ode (#foolishtalk). 40 is 40. I have eyes. I see 20 year olds. I see their skin, their hair, their waist and their flat tummies!  It’s futile to long to look like a 20 year old, it’s unhealthy even, but if you want to look good at 40 or at 50 you are going to have to be mindful of your food choices, because the by-product of a good diet is that at 40 you will have clear or clearer skin, strong and healthy hair, and a healthy body – if you eat well. Now someone is bound to say “but some people can have all those things, good hair, good skin, and a healthy body without ever watching their diet’ my answer is simple “are you one of those people”? exactly!, keep reading.

Cut the Fad Diets and Stick with whole foods

I don’t believe in cutting carbs or fat because they are not sustainable in my opinion. Instead, I have trained my taste buds to appreciate whole or clean  foods cooked without too many additions – boiled yam with no sugar! remember our grandparents ate roasted yams or boiled yams with palm oil and a little salt; not fried eggs, sausages, corn beef stew and I’ve even seen people add fried plantain – errmmm  If you eat corned beef repent now!!! I cook basmati rice with no salt! I season my meat with natural spices (not too much) sometimes nothing –   because the bottom line is the more flavor, the harder it is for your brain to register you are full and satisfied. learn to enjoy the natural flavor of foods too. If  you need to start a plan even with seasoning start with whole food. And by that  I mean things that grew from the ground, on a tree, came out of the sea, ran on the land, or flew through the air. Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds are all great examples of real food

Reduce or avoid crap food.  Crap food is that which comes from a drive-thru window, a vending machine, box, bag, or wrapper. If it has a long ingredient list it’s probably not good for you.  If it started out as real food and then went through ten steps to get to the point where you’re about to eat it, it’s probably not good for you.

And you know what? I cook most of my meals myself. Eating out is a treat. I don’t even buy sandwiches at work. I make everything and take it into work. If you can learn to do this too, you are 70% of the way there. Do not trust food vendors or eateries. They don’t care about you. they care about repeat business and profit margins, and trust me those profit margins are achieved mostly through cheap flavour enhancers – sugar and salt – cheap products. And no, it wouldn’t even taste sugary or salty but trust me it’s loaded full of it.

Exercise wouldn’t help if you don’t change your diet!

If you don’t change what or how you eat exercise wouldn’t help if your aim is to lose weight! That’s the worst part! You can’t eat crap food and compensate with an excellent exercise programme –Never– hence the saying “you can’t outrun a bad diet”. But you can certainly  lose  fat or weight without ever exercising. After I had my two children my body changed so much. It was sooo soft and flabby, even though I was slim. I trained like crazy, no change. I complained to my trainer, and he said “Lola you train like these girls, pointing to magazines with fitness models but you don’t eat like them, and until you do, nothing will change”. I adjusted my diet which was already healthy, and I got my results. Now if you are reading this you may not want my results. Maybe your goal is just to lose a bit of weight, but the principle is the same, until the foundation is right (and the foundation is your diet) you wouldn’t ever see results. 80% of your success or failure will come from how well you eat.

Being fit or healthy comes in different shapes and sizes too!

Please understand one thing. I do not believe we should all be a size 8 or 10 or 12. Fitness and healthy come in different shapes and sizes and the truth is I am against any ‘ideal’ or ‘look’ promoted as optimal. That’s a lie. But in your heart, if you are overweight, or perhaps obese and if you want to do something about it, if you are ready, when you are ready, there is guide below – it is only a guide and it is not easy because it requires you to eat different things and prepare your meals in different ways. This guide will help any average height female around 5:5 tall, trying to lose weight. This is a guide and insight into how I eat – I do eat more, calorie wise, as I am not trying to lose fat – but please treat it as a guide and always consult your doctor before embarking on a new diet.

Meal Plan 101

the meal below  aren’t cooked with oils, expect a smidgen of coconut, olive, or any other healthy oil, a smidgen is less than half a tea spoon – okay maybe half a teaspoon!. Season food to taste but try and switch to lower salt seasonings e.g. Mrs Dash. Once a week eat whatever you want, one meal once a week, not the whole Saturday!! . Once a week have a fizzy drink if you enjoy them,  but only with your cheat meal. Reduce alcohol to once or twice a week – a glass or two maximum.

Meal 1:

1/2 cup oatmeal/ or 5 ounze of yam/sweet potatoes

3 egg whites, 1 egg

I fruit

Snack (20 grams of 90% dark chocolate)

Almonds (23)

Meal 2:

6 ounces grilled chicken/turkey/cod/lean protein

Large salad or any vegetable/s

2 tablespoons light dressing

½ cup of cooked basmati rice

Snack or little meal

Fat free Greek Yogurt (the brand Fage is king and best) OR more lean protein with vegetables or salad if you wish. 2 rice cakes with a tablespoon of peanut butter and fruit

Meal 3:

Fish or steak (salmon, seabass, any really, or grilled steak and vegetable)

Dessert – sugar free Hartley jelly

Water, tea, coffee, no sugar, yes to milk, yes to sweetner.

Is your genetics to blame?

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Last week my friend sent me a video of herself doing  presss up! Yes! the same friend who sent me a picture of her Back complaining about the non-existent or rather normal and healthy fat we all carry there.

My friend has been trying to eat better, and train smarter, so I have been obliging her with advice here and there. The first time she sent me a video of herself doing press ups she asked me to inspect  her form and advise accordingly.

I’ve inserted a poor picture of my friend in press up mode below

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A week after I gave her some pointers about her form, she sends me another video, this time her form was much better! But I couldn’t help but notice her amazing shape! Amazing for a mum of 3 who doesn’t lift weights! The definition she had was similar to someone who lifted weights consistently! Her waist was so tight and her bum looked like she squatted for days. I know for a fact that she doesn’t lift weights, but she runs on occasions and does the elliptical machine. And these are the least efficient or effective way to build muscles.  I knew those two machines do not explain that body definition. And you know what? neither does her diet! I’ve known her a while, we spent too many times eating pizza express before I found healthy eating. She doesn’t eat much, but she doesn’t necessarily eat clean; biscuits and snacks her also her Achilles heel.

What explains her definition is genetics. Whether we want to hear it or not genetics plays an important role, not just in our shapes, (e.g whether we are pear or apple shape), but also in the ease with which we can develop muscle mass. I’ve been weight training for 5 years now, and my results are comparable to hers in some areas. Life is a bitch like that!!

A study that appeared in the International Journal of Obesity found that while you need physical activity in order to build muscle, people who have “muscular” genes require far less exercise than others to look fit. My friend has clearly won the genetics lottery, just like some win the lottery in height or even beauty. I have always known that if I wanted some ‘tone’ or muscle mass I’d have to work really hard, because even though I have always been slim, I’ve always been very soft, and after children I got softer. And research suggest that that softness gets worse after menopause, so that means training into my 50’s!!

So yes, genetics plays a role, but that’s not the be all and end all. Studies also suggest that while your genes may determine up to 80 percent of your weight and body shape, environment and personal choice still play a significant role. I haven’t got my friend’s genes, it simply means  unlike her, I  will have to pick up some weights! And I may just need to work harder on my lifts, and harder on the diets that will get me where I want .

The truth is at the end of the day, you’re in the driver’s seat of your own life. No matter what your genes or your environment might be, you can’t gain weight unless you’re taking in more calories than you’re expending (unless there is a medical condition, which is rare). You may not be able to change being apple-shaped, or get my friend’s natural muscle tone, but it’s certainly well within your power to be the healthiest, fittest ‘apple’ shaped  possible and to develop some muscle with resistance training.

 

Why you just can’t lose tummy fat

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Last week a dear friend of mine sent me two pictures of her back, followed by a message which read “Morning, I have mentioned that I don’t really want to lose weight. I do however have fatty areas that get on my nerves and simply don’t seem to want to go away. I’ll send you pics. Any advice will be greatly appreciated”. Less than a minute later she sends the pictures below.

 

back-fat

 

I was a bit distracted so I responded with “you said these are fatty deposits? But you don’t want to lose fat? I’ll call you later” She sent another response saying “I don’t want them to sag over my bra lol. Can’t you see how disgusting it looks. So flaming jelly like! It needs to firm up. Sure, we’ll speak after work”. This message upset me because firstly this looks normal to me, and  I don’t like when anyone uses disgusting to describe any part of their body even in jest – please say ” I don’t like X Or Y” if you must, but disgusting? No. Not even to a friend.

Now we are all human beings and designed to carry fat for survival, we all carry excess fat in different places, mine is tummy and bum and thighs too!. Some carry more fat in their arms, some their thighs. Where we carry more fat is purely down to our genetics, when we put on weight, it is likely to show in those areas first. And sadly, when we lose weight those areas are the last to go! I know  it’s frustrating!! Also  as we get older – past 35 ladies, you will notice your muscle density changes and yes fat deposits in certain areas more, its  inevitable unless you get on top of your eating and change your training style.

So what is the answer to her question – can she lose those ” bits” without losing overall body fat? The answer is no, she says she wants to firm up not lose weight though? – well the thing is you can’t firm up fat. What you can try and do with commitment and discipline  is change your body composition by  changing your diet and building muscle and dropping body fat, she may need to just tweak  her diet and start strength training to build lean muscles – as you can see she is already slim!

But oh! No one wants muscles! People just wanna “tone” right. Well there is no such thing as “tone” no such thing as ” firm” what you mean to say  is build lean muscle.  To do that you need to eat better and deliberately change your body composition through diet and style of exercise. Hang up your running shoes and pick up some weights, even your own body weight will do,  Any type of resistance training

3 Tips to lose fat all over 

  • Sugar. Dump sugar. When I say sugar people usually think table sugar, pastries, cakes, etc. Yes but you also have to understand that all carbs, white or brown converts eventually to sugar, so portion control all carbs too. That means rice, potatoes, yams, including the brown varieties. Please don’t eliminate carbs but control the portion  and understand that all carbs convert or breakdown to sugar. If you are over 35 you need to pay more attention to simple sugar, it sticks like glue to the midsection.  Also, most people tend to think that added sugar is mainly found in desserts like cookies and cakes, but it’s also found in many savory foods, like bread and pasta sauce – I honestly will never use Dolmio tomatoes sauce fir anything because if the sugar content. And some foods promoted as “natural” or “healthy” are laden with added sugar compounding the confusion, most yogurts come to mind here! Fat free but maddened with sugar!!! manufacturers add sugar to 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets. That’s a fact and not cool. Moral of the story don’t buy packaged food.
  1. Sugar. Avoid Sugar. I know again right. Yes. This time I want to address sugar in fruits and fruit juices. I know you don’t drink fizzy drinks ! . Some of you juice up to 4 fruits in one sitting! Good grieve!!!!! This is just sugar with sprinklings of nutrients. Please juice vegetables e.g Spinach, Kale, Mint and one Apple! Stick with one piece of fruit in your juice! Sugar is sugar is sugar. Yes it has nutrients, but it’s still sugar so don’t consume it like it’s going out of fashion.
  • More about fruits; Let me tell you something, you see the pink lady apple, it is 12% sugar. They have been engineered on sweetness, shapes, colors and resistance to disease. But mostly sugar, sugar, sugar. Of course you can eat fruits as part of a healthy and balanced diet, but if you juice 3 or 4, then have oats with honey, washed down with orange juice, hey it’s all healthy stuff, but its still all sugar! And no your midsection wouldn’t change, because all it recognizes is the sugar! If you want tasty and lower sugar fruits – try all the berries!
  1. Final tip! Avoid hidden Sugar! I know! But sugar is a demon. Let me address this thing with honey! Honey is sugar. Let me say it again honey is sugar. Full stop.

Where  is sugar hidden

  1. Leading brand of yogurts some  contain 7 teaspoons (29 grams) of sugar per serving!!! My favourite yogurt is Fage, Total! The one without honey!
  2. A breakfast bar made with “real fruit” and “whole grains” lists at least 15 grams of sugar.
  3. A cranberry/pomegranate juice product, also advertising “no high-fructose corn syrup” and “100% Vitamin C,” contains 30 grams of added sugar per 8 oz. serving. Some of the sugar is naturally occurring, but some of it has been added.

We know so much about diet and exercise now,  it’s time to convert that knowledge to personal power and stop letting people lie to you or sell you false quick fixes. Be empowered. Whatever you want to achieve.

p.s – The picture of me above shows what is possible after two children with diet and excercise at this present time I do not look this lean. This was for a bikini competition  and for three months I ate really well and strictly, I ate more food that I ever want to eat again!! to build muscles you have to eat loads! I STILL EAT LOADS! and I trained for 6 days a week.

 

5 Nigerian foods killing your goals

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All I said on my Facebook page was ” stop eating fried plantain every time you eat rice or jollof rice” Honestly,  you’d have thought I said Ghanian Jollof rice was better than Nigerian Jollof rice from the amount of people who came for me!

This did get me thinking though! About the worst Nigerian foods for ones waistline, and yes, before I go into this we do not eat fried plantain in my house (unless guests are coming!). Let me be clear, there is no difference between fried Plantain and Chips. Two great vegetables turned to killers on plates.

So here are the worst offenders stopping you achieving your goals – in the end I had to include two drinks

Ayamase stew!

Have you ever cooked this popular Yoruba stew? I have! It’s yummy no doubt! but I can tell you for nothing, there will be no weight loss, no Teyana Taylor body if you eat this ish often. And when I say often I mean even once a week. Okay lets dissect the key things that make this dish awful for your waist line. First, palm oil, let me be clear!!! Palm oil is a great oil, do not let the West demonise it for us!!! my ancestors have been eating palm oil for decades! Used as a cooking oil, palm oil has a high burning point and is safer than (for example) olive oil.  but not the quantity used in Ayamase! Because a fat is still a fat!! And calories still matter. The calorie count for a tablespoon of palm oil is 120 calories. And let’s get real, you’ll be consuming at least 4 tablespoons in your stew,  that’s 480 calories! Of oil alone.  And we haven’t added the fried meat yet! On average, a portion of Ayamase, with fried assorted meat is over 850 calories – we haven’t added the rice remember,  and you are adding dodo!! Ohhh!  shall I go into the grams of fat? No I didn’t think so! You get my point.

TIP: If you take a peak at any stew and see oil floating on top, run!! Trans fat!

Fried plantain and Eggs

This is a disaster. Shambles. You want to kill yourself? Okay then kontinue. This is worst than Ayamase because some of y’all eat this mess every weekend! Or twice a week! Everyday!! Yepa!! You take a perfectly great vegetable and protein source and turn them in a high calorific atrocity! And there is no redeeming factor because vegetable oil has no redeeming factor.  None. In one meal you are easily consuming 900 calories or more!

Puff Puff

Puff Puff is doughnut. Stop lying to yourself. This one pains me to write cause I love puff puff! And I’ll eat it when I’m out! Because it’s a special treat! But I’ll stop at 3 maximum! And never every weekend! Christmas, Easter, you get the drift! Not only is this snack deep fried! The dough is made up of flour , sugar, yeast! Nothing good! And I now see that some of y’all be eating it with ice cream! Are you for fucking real! Kontinue. Make sure your life insurance is up to date ooo – don’t leave loved ones with financial stress and a mess  when you are gone!

Agege bread

Okay, you already know that white bread has no redeeming factor! And you see, the Nigerian bread is worse! Unlike the bread where I reside – I’m sorry to burst your bubble but the bread in Nigeria taste better than the bread in the UK because they are killing iy and you with the added sugar!! Not because they are better bakers!! Wake up people!! most sliced bread in the UK contains only 2-4% sugars – and much of this is naturally occurring, it is not ‘added’. The last time I was in Nigeria! Enjoying bread and egg – I could taste the sugar – so delicious!! But if you are watching your waistline so wrong! I do not demonise bread. Only the type you eat. Please eat wholemeal, Ezekiel and the likes, if like me you enjoy it, but that Agege bread! No no no! and the ones you buy in London from Finsbury park called dough bread!! I shudder! I picked it up once at someone’s house – I looked at the back I swear the E-NUMBERS ALONE!! ENOUGH SAID.

Condensed milk!!

You people are still drinking this, in your tea, in your coffee!! Okay here are the facts. It contains 62 calories for a mere tablespoon. 1 tbsp serving of regular sweetened condensed milk contains almost 2 g of fat. The fat in condensed milk is primarily saturated fat, which can negatively impact cardiovascular health. A tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk contains over 10 g of carbohydrates, all of which are sugars. I CAN’T GO ON. Why are you doing this!!! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Maltina and the likes!!

My heart wept when I read this  on a popular blog about Maltina and its cousins (all the other malt drinks)

” Maltina’s claim to fame is that it was the first malt drink to be produced locally in Nigeria. The drink comes in 33cl bottles and it has a distinct, rich and creamy taste like no other malt drink on the market. The drink’s manufacturer, Nigerian Breweries Plc (aka Heineken) are also keen to point out its health benefits as Maltina includes a wide array of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and C, as well as calcium. Given all of the above, it’s probably no wonder that Maltina has become available abroad at British retailer Tesco and has over 5,000 followers on Twitter”.

What the actual Fuck!! Tesco sells Chocolate and cakes and pies and all other unhealthy stuff what does maltina being stocked at Tesco tell us – they are catering to their consumers – they are chasing the money like any other business!!! Here is the truth!! Forget the jagbajantis claim of vitamin just eat one small orange! The calorie in this demon is 188! Oh and 45 grams of carbohydrate – that’s more than my breakfast of toast and eggs!! If you really want that vitamin A eat a cup of Kale it gives you more with less than 50 calories!!

Eat well. Eat  Smart.