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Five nutrition lessons I learnt from daddy

BY: Nana Kofi Owusu
File photo
File photo

By now, everyone knows that I, Dietitian One, like food. In fact, I like tasty but healthy food taken in moderation and balanced. I am a proud Fante man, so what do you expect?

Living with and observing my father thought me my first lessons in nutrition, so I share five with you as we celebrate father’s day.

Chew food well

My dad takes about 30 minutes to eat breakfast, unlike the “speed work” that many do. He ruminates on the ingested bolus and chews thoroughly till well ground before swallowing.

Many rush through their meals, especially breakfast, and hence do not digest food well in their mouths. They also take in air that makes them uncomfortable.

Some also feel stomach pain when they swallow such food. It will surprise you to note that some people swallow rice without chewing it.

Yam, plantain, and cocoyam are solid foods and must be chewed well. No wonder many get food stuck in their throat while eating and will need water to push down the pile of solid food stuck in their oesophagus. Please chew your food well.

Enjoy your meals

Yes, meals must be enjoyed and not endured. This truth that I speak of often is one that I learnt from my dad.

When my dad is eating, everyone in the house knows it. This is because of the occasional sighs and moans of “hmmm” and “Ahh” that you will hear from the dining table. That can also make you want to eat.

As he gently chews his food, you will recognise that he uses both sides of the mouth, swallowing the fluid that comes as a result of the breakdown of the food when mixed with saliva.

If you have ever wondered why I make such funny noises when I’m eating on TV or radio, there you have it; my dad thought me.

So next time you are eating healthy food, take it easy. Chew the food graciously, roll your eyes, show facial expressions, moan in excitement and “give them- go go- one blow”.

Do not sleep hungry

When we were children, before going to sleep, my dad will always ask us if we were hungry. He knew from experiencing a hard life while growing up in the absence of his father that sleeping with hunger is a painful thing.

It is also unhealthy as your blood sugars can go low and could lead to the feeling of extreme hunger upon waking.

For persons living with diabetes or on medications that demand that you eat well, this can be dangerous or fatal. So dad will often take some fruits or tea when he comes home late from work. Do not let your desire to eat healthily make you hungry. Being hungry is not being healthy.

Instead of eating heavy meals at night, swap your typical breakfast meals with that for supper when you get home late. Take a fruit or drink soup, but whatever it is, don’t sleep hungry.

Make it soupy

Dad will always like to have a bowl of soup with his lunch or supper when eating at home. He will say, “push the food down with some soup”.

So, after having his ampesi and palava sauce or rice and stew, he will add a bowl of light soup. Many do not take soups but prefer stews and ground pepper.

They miss out on dissolved vitamins and minerals and do not add up to fluids for hydration.

Prioritise spending on healthy food, it is an investment

When many want to cut down on family budget in austere times, their first resort is to reduce expenditure on food. This is often done to the detriment of the family’s nutrition and health, with reduced allocation for purchasing wholesome fruits and vegetables or even eating twice or once a day.

My dad will always ensure that the week’s money allocated for meals is intact, but he reduces that which is spent on clothes and home beautification to ensure optimum nutrition.

So spend on good healthy food even when times are hard.

I have more to say but will pause here. I will bring you the nutritional sins of my father another time but for now, let me celebrate all fathers, especially my father.

Thanks to you and all the amazing fathers who are working tirelessly to provide wholesome, balanced and healthy nutrition for their families.

Don’t forget to eat to live because life is precious.

The writer is a Registered Dietitian and Lecturer, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.