Let’s eat more veggies and enjoy this festive season

A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report indicates that “urban life and its modern trappings have brought bad habits to developing African nations that will see more die of chronic illness than infectious diseases by 2030”.

The survey released last week indicates that 33 countries have shown that most adults in Africa had at least one risk factor, increasing their chance of developing deadly lifestyle diseases such as heart complications, cancer and diabetes.

And they named the usual culprits, which include smoking, use of alcohol, diet which does not include enough fruit and vegetables, plus low levels of physical activity as slowly sending more people to early graves.

The required ratio

In East Africa where we have a lot of fruits and vegetables, we are still doing poorly as far as fruits and veggies are concerned, with Kenya’s consumption standing at 115kg per capita, equivalent to nearly 79 per cent of the required ratio.

Non-communicable diseases were estimated to account for 28 per cent of all deaths in Kenya.

Ugandans eat nearly 0.2kg of vegetables and fruits per day per person. The per capita consumption for Ugandans stands at 65kg, and non-communicable diseases account for 25 per cent of all deaths in the country.

And in Tanzania, only 0.164kg of vegetables were consumed per day, or only 60kg per capita consumption, standing at 41 per cent of the required intake, according to the WHO report.

Several jokes

But why do we hate vegetables?

In one community in Tanzania, for instance, vegetables were referred to as “hyena’s seat”, where they do their thing and wipe clean.

So, the people from that community were not fond of veggies. But it was not there alone, there were several jokes around the globe about vegetable eating.

One South African once told me that he was not a goat to eat plenty of vegetables when I inquired about his diet.

And then; there was something about children and vegetables. Any parent would count his/her blessings and name them one by one if their children were fond of vegetables.

A tender age

It is a deal breaker for any parent for sure. Most children were notoriously not fond of veggies.

It puzzles me why they just think it doesn’t taste good. So hate for vegetables starts at a tender age.

At times, parents constantly nag children to eat vegetables until they start thinking it is less enjoyable.

Many experts seem to agree that vegetable aversion in adults dates back to childhood memories when they were being forced to eat the food they disliked.

A game changer

So, perhaps a properly prepared and delightfully served vegetables could be a game changer.

Perhaps nutritionists and health experts could come up with tricks to help us change our tastes and start enjoying vegetables.

Well, let’s just enjoy eating fruits and vegetables this festive season, alongside other foods.

And let’s go for a wider range of fresh foods and vegetables to appreciate different tastes than we were aware of before.

Twitter: @JanetOtieno

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