Monday, May 21, 2018

What affects food choices in Tanzania?


By Lugano Wilson

The notions about feeding tendencies by some of the clients I have attended to, may make your blood curdle. It’s no news, but obesity remains a health burden for many Tanzanians, knowingly or unknowingly. Some say it’s familial, while others think it is a sign of wealth.

Some men gather at social places, staring at obese women rumbling in streets , equating their obese physique with beauty.

Those who are obese are from well-off families, consuming a lot of beer, fats and carbohydrates.

Most of the people are oblivious of the proper food to consume according to age group and their daily activities/occupation.

Moreover those from affluent families consume a lot of kitimoto (pork)/red meat and beer.

Poor food choices

There is a matrix that surrounds the poor choice of food and improper feeding , not surprisingly, that’s ignorance cum poverty.

Needless to say, poverty has a role to play in improper food choices. The low-income families feed just to get their stomach replete consequently succeeding in suppressing the feeling of hunger. Therefore many will eat a huge portion of ugali just to get satiated, amongst the poor urban dwellers others will not access even that ugali, and they simply underfeed.

I would like to insist that the choice of food influences your health/disease status and aging process.

Do you want to be as fit as a fiddle? Just eat well.

Therefore, after observing that trend in my country I resorted not to be restive on the matter. Here are some useful tips for my readers.

Older adults need to eat right

You must understand that sometimes we suffer because we cannot give our bodies the nutrients they require. Food requirements are different as we move through different stages in life.

Today, let me concentrate on older adults, our grandmas and grandpas. I consider elders as vulnerable group of people, threfore I’m going to accord them the priority in today’s article.

With elders, their appetite is low, you might think that they are food faddists, but they are not.

Appetite can vary in older adults and often decrease as you get older, so the interesting thing in such circumstances is eating a variety of foods.

• The elderly require plenty of vegetables, legumes (baked beans, kidney beans and chick beans). These have different naming system in Tanzanian vernacular dialects.

• Do not forget fruits, whole grain cereals, lean meat such as fish and poultry, milk, youghurt and cheese.

• Drink plenty of water. It’s an emphasis that doesn’t age. As we get older, we don’t feel thirsty, even when our bodies want fluids. Therefore, consider suggesting the old to take in a lot of fluids such as water as the most important aspect in their diet.

• Why are proteins important for the elderly? Protein requirement found in eggs, soyabeans and nuts, increases as we reach 70’s. Protein in the body assists in healing of wounds, and this is very important for wound recovery after surgery.

• They need calcium, low fat milk, cheese, yoghurt, for prevention or slowing the progression of osteoporosis.

• Older adults need Vitamin D, which is important in bone health. This is not expensive, one can get it naturally from the sunlight. Just wake up in the morning at sunrise and bask in the graceful morning sunlight.

• Eat low salt, low sugar foods. You know as years go by, sadly our sense of taste can decrease, thus you may add salt to your food that may be more than enough. Do not do that, instead just add spices to add flavour to the food.

According to, its recommended to toe the “food guide pyramid.” lt suggests to use fats and oil sparingly. Take 2-3 servings of milk yoghurt, and cheese group, 3-5 servings of vegetable group, 2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts group, 2-4 servings of fruit group and 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, pasta group.

The food categories expounded above can also be important to other groups but the emphasis has been particularly made for specific roles in elders.

Keep an eye on the kind of food you choose to consume, otherwise in the end you will be caught between a devil and a deep sea.

If you are your grandparents’ keeper, assist them with best food choices, though remind them to understand that they should live not to eat but they should eat to live.

Again listen to what elders say and suggest whilst constantly guiding them on food choices.