Prepare your own food, it's healthier
With so many cultures in South Africa, November presents the perfect opportunity to experience the various cuisines found across the country.
“Embrace all South African cultures and cuisine but remember to keep it healthy, and to practise portion control,” says Renny Letswalo, non-executive chairperson at Cambridge Weight Plan. “Also, these foods should be eaten earlier in the day, so that your body has enough time to digest them, and you can use up the energy during the day,” adds Letswalo.
According to Letswalo people can still eat their traditional foods that they are used to, they just need to prepare them in a healthier way.
“Food preparation is important in making sure our dishes are healthy, and so is portion control. Very often it is not the food we eat that is unhealthy, but the size of the portion and the way it was prepared,” she said.
Letswalo said the ingredients found in the traditional foods are not unhealthy.
“For example, simply removing and draining the added fat in mogodu can significantly reduce the fat content. Also opting to use healthier ingredients such as olive oil, reducing the amount of salt and boiling or grilling rather than frying some of our favourite South African dishes can increase nutritional value,” she said.
Scientific research has shown that ultra-processed foods made in factories with ingredients unknown to the domestic kitchen may be linked to cancer and obesity.
She said one of the keys to eating healthily on a budget is to get cooking.
“Preparing your own meals is associated with higher diet quality and lower spending on food. Eating out costs more and is associated with lower diet quality,” she said, advising people to plant vegetables in their backyards.
“A small patch of land can produce all the greens you need for a nutritious meal. With advanced and creative methods, even with no land and space you can opt to grow your vegetables in urban areas. This way you save money and get other health benefits such as stress management when gardening.”