Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dieting in Africa



After months of serious indulgence at the end of 2007, we did the thing people do on December 31st, we vowed to make a New Year's resolution to diet, lose weight, get fit (in that order).

From DAY1 - January 1st, we cut out all bread, grains, potatoes, SUGAR, caffeine and all the other baddies in the world of food.

John leaned toward an Atkins diet, I leaned more toward an Anti Candida diet. Luckily they are both quite similar.

In fact, most main stream diets that have any clout, all advocate that the following guidelines are necessary: cut out most sugars, all white breads, grains and starchy foods, caffeine should be eliminated, you should drink lots of water, and you need moderate exercise. They are mostly common sense.

Well we are 3 and a half months into this diet/lifestyle change and I am happy to report we've each lost 8 kilos/17lbs. The trouble is that common sense is a difficult thing to keep at hand when one is faced with temptation.

Living in Ghana as an Expat in our company means that we are constantly hosting guests from abroad. In a given week we may have one to two guests staying with us, and two to five suppers out at fancy restaurants. This means that will power is as necessary as oxygen, yet as slippery as a slide.

The good thing is that these diets do allow for treats that are both good for you and yummy, and one has to focus on them to avoid cheating constantly.

Dark chocolate has numerous health benefits as well as blueberries. I love both, and these small pleasures keep me on track the rest of the time for the most part. (Except when a good red wine is opened... but they do claim red wine also has it's health benefits!)

This brings me to my issue of dieting - in Africa.

It's all just so self indulgent, when one considers that we are concerned about cutting back on foods that are abundant and everywhere, available in excess, while everywhere around us there are millions of people surrounding us who's annual income could not pay for even one of our dinners out.

It's just so ridiculous that in the new (and only) mall in Ghana we push our carts round the aisles, choosing items based on healthy choices etc, despite the fact that 90% of these items have to be imported. Blueberries at $9 per 100grams... dark chocolate bars at $10... no problem.

WHAT?! This is absurd! Minimum wage here is under $2 per day. So it would take a minimum wage worker here 5 days to be able to afford 100grams of blueberries. Yet these items sell. The shelves fill and empty. We get all excited when the shipment of fresh milk is flown in - $5 per litre. The Expats and the upper middle class Ghanaians mull around the shop doing their weekly shop without much thought.

Meanwhile, we are in Africa. Starvation and poverty are the most pertinent subjects.
Traditional foods here are made of 90% heavy starches - to fill empty bellies.

The concept of dieting is borne out of success, excess, progress. Our choices are many, it becomes our decision to choose the good from the bad.

Give us this day our daily bread - but please make it wheat free, gluten free, sugar free, unbleached, with organic eggs...
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1 comment:

Yngvild said...

I know this is an old post, but I've just sat down to read through your posts, long time since last I visited your blog!

I just loved this post. It was profound and so well written.

I love your header, I love your description of yourself and your life in Africa. You are good.

And if you want a good diet recommendation, go live with the Boamah family in Kumasi - I lost 15 kilos on 10 months, WITH white bread and LOTS of yam.. :-)

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