I was invited to host a healthy eating webinar yesterday for young adults from West African backgrounds (mainly Nigeria and Ghana). I really enjoy talking nutrition and relating it to cultural and traditional foods and I always feel honoured whenever I get asked to speak at these type of events!
I’ve been doing this for almost 7 years now and I just love helping my community improve their nutrition in any way I can.
I thought I’d share some tips and advice that I shared with them! It makes me happy when people realise that they don’t have to ditch their fav cultural foods to be healthy.
It got a bit tense though when I was asked which jollof rice taste better? – Ghanaian jollof or Nigerian jollof. Even though I’m from Nigeria, I had to go with Ghanaian jollof (sorry Dad!).
Whenever I speak to my patients and clients from ethnic minority backgrounds, I always reassure them that they can still have a traditional, balanced diet without having to eat cauliflower rice to optimise their nutrition. But if they want to eat cauliflower rice they can have it because they LIKE it, not because a social media influencer told them to eat it for ‘health benefits’.
I always make sure that when I’m invited to speak at events tailored towards the Black African or Caribbean community that I make no assumptions because not everyone eats or likes their traditional foods! I include western, Eurocentric as well as traditional food examples in my advice giving – make it very diverse! However, in this case, the organisers of the event told me that all the attendees loveeee their cultural foods and I should definitely talk about them.
Check out my infographics below on some healthy swaps to make in your traditional West African diet. Please note that this isn’t an exhaustive list. If you’d like to discuss more or want to invite me to give a presentation on nutrition and traditional foods, please get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)