You call it ugali, nshima, pap…I call it Sadza!
So, if Sadza is a carb…then it must be fattening, right? Well, not so fast. Carbohydrates have been the unfortunate villain of a weight loss industry that has labeled them as being the “bad” food. But in case you have not received the memo, let me share the news with you, ”Carbs are NOT fattening…. excess calories are.” Weight control is about ensuring a balance between calories consumed (what you eat) and calories burnt (what you use). Too many calories equal weight gain, too few calories result in weight loss and just the right balance between what you eat and what you use equals weight maintenance.
There are however some behaviors that are contributing to our ever-expanding waistlines:
- We eat the same size portions as we did 20 years ago and yet we do not move as much as we did then.
Our lives today have been enhanced with the luxuries of modern technology and entertainment. We sit in front of televisions and computers for hours upon end, drive to most places, shudder at the idea of taking a walk and yet we choose to eat the same amount of food (if not more) as we did when we were a lot more active. As a result, our waistlines have expanded and the poor sadza has taken the blame.
- We serve Sadza with large portions of meat and little vegetables
The taste of sadza is only as good as the relish it is served with and so to make sure that every morsel that enters our mouth is loaded with flavor, we pack our plates with plenty of relish. Unfortunately, the increased availability of meat, fish and fowl have led to a reversal of our vegetable to meat proportions. Instead of using meat as a flavoring for the vegetables, we now use the vegetables to flavor to the meat. Meat and animal products contain more fat (and calories) than the vegetables they are replacing. Coupled with the large servings of sadza on the plate, the added caloric intakes from meat with the lack of adequate physical activity result in weight gain. This is especially true for the outside of Africa where meat is always available and often reasonably priced. Preferred African vegetables may be scarce and highly priced perpetuating the decreased intakes.
- We use maize meal that is highly refined and low in fiber.
Fiber curbs hunger by promoting satiety. In fact when it comes to fighting the battle of the bulge, studies continuously demonstrate that people who consume enough fiber tend to have healthy body weights. With the increased preference of refined maize flours, we are consuming less fiber and more calories than we should.
- As a rule of thumb, vegetables should cover half your plate, meat a quarter of the plate and sadza the other quarter.
- If you make a relish combines meat with vegetables, make sure that there are more vegetables than meat in your pot.
- Make your sadza using higher fiber, unrefined maize, sorghum or millet meals.
- Enjoy your traditional foods (including sadza) but remember that portions matter.