If the above typically resemble what your daily meal looks like, then the answer to that question “Does Nigerian food make you fat?” is a resounding YES.
I and some other Nigerian food bloggers have teamed up to individually answer this question so as to learn and enlighten all of us that are reading this now. So, make sure you read their own perspective through their respective links that I’ll put after this post.
A typical Nigerian meal is comprised mainly of easily digestible carbohydrates and oil. The culprits are mainly refined starchy food, fats and sugar, all found in high quantities in rice, yam, garri, potatoes, plantain, egusi, palm oil, non-lean beef cuts, bread, fried pastries, fizzy drinks etc.
- A plateful of rice especially the refined white rice rather than brown rice is packed full of starch with little or no nutritional value.
- Nigerian stews and soups are most times cooked with a lot of oil. Also the long process of cooking our foods, for example and the process of frying tomatoes end up increasing the level of saturated fats that goes into the body.
- Beef, though a source of protein also contains a high amount of saturated fat especially when all the fats are not trimmed of before cooking.
- Garri, pounded yam, cassava fufu which are all used in eating Nigerian mostly oil and beef laden soups are also full of starch which is easily digestible carbohydrate-rich meals.
- Nigerian snacks like puff-puff, buns, doughnuts, meat pies are mostly comprised of refined flour and sugar which correlates to a dramatic weight gain, and same applies to sugary and sweetened drinks.
How does Nigerian food make you fat?
Nigerian food still does contain healthy ingredients but most times, these healthy stuff are outweighed by the fat-inducing ingredients. How Nigerian food make you fat all boils down to some issues bearing on our lifestyle, eating habits, health habits etc.
I came across an article that listed some habits that can make you get fat, some of which are: (1) Eating with large plates (2) Sleeping too much or too little (3) Taking fizzy drinks, including the diet options (4) Eating too quickly (5) Eating too late (6) Not drinking enough water. So, following and adding to this;
- If you eat heavily at night, then Nigerian food will make you fat. From my experience living in a fast-paced Nigerian city (Lagos), most people don’t take their dinner till after 9pm because they may have been in traffic between 6pm to 9pm or more. A lot of Nigerian men fall into this category and their growing belly fat is evidence of it.
- If you eat a lot of Nigerian snacks as a way to avoid food or to satisfy your food craving, then you are going to get fat without you realising that.
- If you are stressed at work or at home or anywhere for that matter, you can get fat through ‘emotional eating’, which tends towards all those high carbohydrate and fatty Nigerian foods.
- If you mainly eat out and don’t cook at home, Nigeria food is bound to make you fat. Most Nigerian restaurants and bukas serve high calorie food combinations with little or no vegetable. The cooking method and lots of frying involved definitely makes those foods that you are served an ‘fat-bomb’ in your system.
- Above all, if you live a sedentary lifestyle, that’s a life that involves little or no physical activity, then eating Nigerian food will make you fat. Most people that sit behind a desk in the office may comfortably fall into this if they don’t find a way to get more physical or cut out those high carbohydrates, fatty and sugary foods.
So, Nigerian food, just like any other food according to research, will make you add weight if you fall into two or more of those habits listed above especially if you don’t engage in any action to ensure they are not stored up in your body. Simply put, the amount of calories we consume from eating these Nigerian foods are less than the calories we burn out…we eat more and exercise less.
I believe the calories pile up so much because of the way we combine our various Nigerian meals like the scenario given earlier. There is also a lack of information out there on how to eat a well combined healthy meal strictly made up of Nigerian foods. It is time for our Nutritionists and Dietitians to get to work and provide us with accurate, reliable data on the nutrient content and nutritional value of our various local foods, as well as recommend combinations that promote good health. This will help make people aware that they can eat healthy without resorting to expensive foreign foods.
I love Nigerian food and can never stop eating my egusi soup, drinking garri, eating plantain and all. I look for ways to cook it in a healthier way like oven-baking my plantains instead of frying always, using less palm oil and giving it that oily colour with more tomatoes or tatashe. I also ensure i control my portions and as well combine most of my meals with more vegetables, which I try to use my common sense to calculate for now. I am sure you will get a very detailed guide on portion control and combining Nigerian foods in order to get the best out of them by reading what others bloggers have written. Let’s click on the links below to get to their blogs and read…to know more (winks)
Adaobi of Dobby’s Signature
Atim of Afrolems
Flo of All Nigerian Recipes
Iquo of 1Q Food Platter
Nma of Nigerian Lazy Chef
Ronke of 9jafoodie
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