Can Past Poor Diet Affect Your Health?

My name is Fola. I live in the city of Lagos, Nigeria.  I am thirty-two years old. 5’5 (1.65m) tall with a 80kg weight.  My diet right from school was one of total indulgence in the wrong foods.  My parents would tell me how chubby I looked, and ‘healthy’ and what I had was baby ‘fat’.  They told me the fat would disappear in my teens, but nay it refused to shift, while I remained thicker around the waist, thighs and bum in my thirties.

In addition to my excess weight are the discomforts I get day in day out.   I am always out of breath. Even when sitting down, you can hear my breathing two-arm’s length away. My hair dull and hardly grows, feels rough, with a chunk pulling out whenever I dare run a comb through.  My breath? I even smell it myself. Yuk! My skin is prone to pimples, not only around my menstrual period, but the nasty zits can appear on my face and back anytime.  I dare not wear sleeveless tops.  Do I go to the loo often? Twice a week maybe? I just can’t seem to move my bowels.  I get help from laxatives when the discomfort gets on my nerves.  My monthly period?  That one is three days of cramps around my lower belly, which I try to relieve with Buscopan. My nails are no better. My fingers are a terrible sight – broken nails and yellowish.  Not even a manicure can make it glam. My self-confidence? Zero!

What is my day of eating like?  Well let’s see.  In the morning, before going to work, I gulp a large glass fruit drink to quench my thirst.

I am sure you can understand after seven hours of sleep and no fluid. If there is time for breakfast, I grab a plate of any leftover dinner, shove it in the microwave, or warm on the gas cooker.  Fruits? Not for me, thank you. The only fruit I can tolerate is good old orange. On the way to work, I may grab a couple of fried plantain chips packets, or whatever food I can exchange quickly for cash in the traffic snag, to keep my mouth busy while reading my emails in the office, and of course I must have my two cups of coffee, with four cubes of sugar and loads of creamy milk.  I like my beverage really creamy and sweet. 

For lunch, you know I have a big appetite, so I eat as much as I can persuade the canteen lady to path with.  It is a must to sit beside my friends who eat like birds.  I ask them to fill their plates, so I can finish their leftovers.  Vegetables? I don’t like all these cabbage and carrots stuff.  Bland, don’t you think?  I love the locally made vegetable soup with plenty dried fish and meat, the oilier the better.  And the melon soup? It is my favourite with steamed cassava grains or pounded yam. 

For dessert, I choose ice cream. 

No fruit salad for me.  Water? I don’t like the taste of water.  I may struggle to take a glass only when I am choking from too much pepper.  But they know me in the canteen; my two bottles of soft drink are on standby – chilled.  Do I fall asleep at my desk in the afternoon?  Well, slightly, but I keep alert with another creamy sweet cup of coffee and some cashews.

Phew! it’s 6.00pm.  Time to call it a day.  I get into my car, drive to my favourite bakery known for hot deliciously wicked bread.  I grab a couple of sweet family loaves (did I tell you I am single by the way?).  As I am getting ready to pay for my two loaves, one of the sales girls came out with a tray of fresh cup cakes (the buttery smell is making me dizzy). I asked her for six.  

Too many? They are tiny individual cakes just in case my friends visit.  Huh, you don’t say? Yes, that is the truth.  Oh by the way, I also quickly asked for a couple of chocolate filled croissants before they are all gone.

I got home eventually after almost one and a half hours in the terrible traffic.  My blood sugar is low, and my feet trembling from hunger.  I rushed into the kitchen, and helped myself to two croissants to stabilise me. 

Water? No, later.  Instead I grabbed another large glass of fruit drink, seated with my feet on my coffee table.  Closed my eyes for a while.  It is now time for dinner proper.  Let’s see.  I opt for fried rice, 1 medium ripe plantain, and beef. I sliced the plantain and deep-fried.  Thank God for deep fryers.  

Taste good. Gosh, still thirsty.  Now is the time for a glass of water. This was about 8.30pm.

Time to exercise? No, definitely too tired.  I had a terrible day at the office.  You see, someone upset me.  They always upset me.  Don’t forget I drove through that horrible traffic.  I am just so stressed, so exhausted, can hardly move my feet, and you are asking me to exercise?  Forget it. At least not tonight. How about a little stretching? Stretch?  I told you I can’t move my feet, you are advising me to stretch.  Stretch what, may I ask? Your whole body.  I told you, I will do that tomorrow.  You said that yesterday, last week, and two weeks ago.  I mean it this time, I promise to do it tomorrow.

I woke up on my settee at 12midnight.  Must have dozed off.  Sweet Jesus, I am still hungry.  Have I had dinner?  I think I had a snack of fried rice and plantain.  Was it not snacking? You want to call that dinner? Anyway, my stomach is ‘grumbling’.  I need to appease my stomach.  I opened the fridge and surveyed it quickly.  What’s in that food pack?  Brought it out, and found a chunky slice of chocolate gateau.  Now I remember, a friend shared his birthday cake in the office two days back.  I took the last piece and kept it for a midnight snack.  Fantastic!  Great move Fola. Went with it to the sitting room and spooned it down in 30 seconds.

Off to bed.  Must brush my teeth.  Ha, too much trouble.  I will just rinse with water.  I will do proper brushing in the morning. 

Of course I slept badly.  Tossing and turning and had a dream – a nightmare to be precise.  I was being chased by a hooded man and could hardly move my legs.  My assailant nearly caught up with me when I woke up startled and drenched in my own sweat.  I went into the bathroom and surveyed myself in the mirror.  I looked terrible – puffy eyes, oily skin, and hair standing like spikes as if a volcano had just erupted in the middle of my head.  I can’t go to the office today. I will just call in ill.  I must go back to bed. I went back to bed.

Our Verdict

The above lifestyle is a typical day in the life of someone on a poor diet and living a sedentary life.  It reads like a fiction, but it is reality.  The good news is that once you start to eat a balanced diet and exercise, there is an instant reversal in your health and general wellbeing.  Putting it simply, poor diet can only affect your health as long as you keep on with it.  But once poor diet becomes a thing of the past, so are the diet-related problems that come with it.  It is not too late to change your eating habits to a healthier one. Better to be late than never.

Without overstating what is perhaps very obvious, healthy living is the key.

  •   Cut down your fat, salt and sugar  intake.
  •   Increase your fibre.
  •   Eat more of natural foods.
  •  Drink plenty of water.
  •   Eat  a little of everything in the different food groups – carbohydrates, protein, dairy,  vegetables & fruits, a little oils & fats…AND
  •  Exercise.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons.


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