Cabbage was a staple vegetable in the doctor's experiment.
Cabbage was a staple vegetable in the doctor's experiment.

Can you do low-carb on R150 a week?

By Time of article published Jul 10, 2014

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Pretoria - What is it like to try Professor Tim Noakes’ low-carb “Banting” diet on the average weekly food budget of a rural South African?

A rural doctor-turned-blogger decided to find out. Here is what she gained and what she lost – besides 1.7kg.


The challenge: Bant on R150 a week.

The rules: Restrict myself to eating items off of Noakes’ green and orange lists in his The Real Meal Revolution cookbook.

The timeline: An initial period of two uninterrupted weeks.

The reward: I want to challenge my own assumptions around obesity and gain a deeper understanding of the real challenges for my rural patients related to nutrition.

Weight:65kg; height: 1.76m


Weekly shopping list:

2kg chicken pieces (R44.99)

24 eggs (27.99)

1 litre long-life, full-cream milk (R8.99)

500g butter (R29.99)

24 teabags (R4.99)

1 packet (5 small) sweet potatoes (R12.99)

1 large unpeeled cabbage (10.99)

2 onions (R4.52)

3 green chillies (R1.02)

1 small clove of garlic (R2.38)

End weight:63.3


Things I lost:

1.7 kg, cravings for sweet things, the post-prandial coma phenomenon (I no longer feel a dip in energy after meals) and a few really incredible family meals.


Things I gained:

Creativity. Regardless of diet choice, surviving on R150 a week is difficult and requires planning, innovation and consciousness about wastage. I used to throw out food past its sell-by date or that was not looking as fresh as when I bought it. Now I am reusing tea bags and keeping aside potato peels for meals and snacks.

Knowledge. I have learnt a great deal about nutrition over the last few weeks. I don’t have all the answers yet, but am committed to continue learning and exploring.

Perspective. Limiting your budget can change how you think. I have gained a more tangible understanding of one of the challenges that people in my community are faced with.

Humility. I did this out of choice. For many of my patients, putting food on the table is an everyday struggle. Educating people to make healthier food choices is empowering, but only it comes from a place of deep understanding and respect.

Wisdom. With enough butter, anything tastes good.

Drive. As a global community, we need to invest more in research on human nutrition. Obesity is at epidemic proportions and we need good solid science to support public health policies. – Health-e News Service.

* Doctor’s name withheld upon request.

Pretoria News

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