- According to Neema Shosho, a nutrition advisor at the Embassy of Ireland, consuming street food and snacks isn’t a bad idea but many people normally don’t factor in the health aspect of the food. For many, as long as the food is affordable and tasty then other issues are not of big concern and this is where we go wrong.
In modern days where everyone leaves the house early in the morning and returns sometimes very late in the evening, consuming homemade food for all the main meals can be a big challenge.
According to Neema Shosho, a nutrition advisor at the Embassy of Ireland, consuming street food and snacks isn’t a bad idea but many people normally don’t factor in the health aspect of the food. For many, as long as the food is affordable and tasty then other issues are not of big concern and this is where we go wrong.
She named street foods ranging from wali maharage (rice withbeans) ugali nyama (Hard porridge with beef) sold by mama ntilie, chips mayai (chips with eggs) from a nearby food kiosk to mahindi choma (roasted maize) from the guy standing beside the main road as foods that come to rescue the situation not forgetting cassava used by some people as a snack for breakfast.
Gone are the days when every food we consumed was prepared at home, says Neema.
One might wonder why many people go for street food and snacks. They are simply affordable, accessible and of course ready made so one doesn’t have to wait for long to be served. Some people also believe that street foods are yummier than homemade.
Piece of advice
Neema says it’s about time we Tanzanians use our locally available foods to produce healthy street food. It is also about time we learnt to make the right choices when it comes to food. The time to act is now, she says.
“In Tanzania for instance, we do have both healthy and unhealthy street foods. However in urban settings, most of us consume unhealthy ones,” she says.
It is common to see many going for deep fried foods like chips, maandazi, samosas, cassava, high sugar and salty snacks. As a result, there is a tremendous increase in overweight and obese people, people with diabetes, hypertension, cancers and other diet related non- communicable diseases.
Before consuming street food
Check the sanitary conditions of the vending site. Is hygiene well observed? Is the food well handled? You do not want to consume contaminated food and get diarrhoea or vomiting
“Check if the food is fresh. Remember that depending on how busy a street food vendor is, food may be sitting around for a while before you come along to buy it.”
Neema adds that people should check the method of cooking used. She insists that people should avoid excessive consumption of deep fried, high sugar and salty foods.
“Ensure you consume nutritious street foods. Fruits and vegetables should also be prioritised when making food choices,” advises Neema.
Remember one can consume street food and still make healthy choices. She says the benefits of eating healthy are many including protection against the above-mentioned non- communicable diseases that cost families and the country a lot of money for treatment and may also lower your life expectancy.