With Ebun Sessou

Dr. Essien Okong is the Medical Director Doren Specialist Hospital. He is our guest on this edition of Celebrity Tummy Talk as he speaks on his feeding habit and why everybody should take more rest and stay healthy.

Tell us your feeding habit on daily basis.

Dr. Okong

There are different foods to different people and an average person eats three categories of food including carbohydrates, proteins and minerals depending on the origin or tribe. For the Northerners, cereal products is a common thing while the people in the Southern part of the country take more of starchy food.

I’m a descendant from the South-South, so I take lots of vegetables to supplement while those from the South-West take more of meat products. Everybody does this to strike a balance needed to keep soul and body together.

Growing up

Things were different from what it is now. I was sure I’d never took cow milk as a baby. It was 100 percent breast-milk while some food supplements were introduced later.

Nowadays we still go back to the old good religion that breast-milk should be encouraged except it is absolutely impossible. And as one grows up, whatever one eats depend on the environment.

Mention some of the native soups and foods in your village

For carbohydrates, we have fufu, garri, plantain, yam, coco yam, and protein, minerals and vegetables were in place. Soup including Afang, Edikai Ikong to mention a few.

Can you prepare any of these soups?

(Smile), well I can do it but now my wife has taken over and if I’m too good in the kitchen, she will be annoyed.

So, you have left the kitchen for her?


That is interesting, but now as a doctor, how do you manage your feeding and commitment to work?

When I was younger, I could take everything. But now, I consider some health related problems including diabetes, hypertension. So at this age, I don’t take too much salt, I watch the protein I take, as much cut down on my food. I take very little quantity but well balanced meal regularly.

For instance, I used to be in love with Coca-cola which has instant glucose, but now, I don’t take it again. In terms of work, I always make out time to eat. I take breakfast at home, then my wife sends my lunch to me while I take dinner in the office or at home.

Do you exercise?

Not very active. I live in an estate where I can take a walk between 5 and 6 am.


I take water and alcohol socially with friends or functions. Wine once in a while precisely on weekend to help in food digestion. I take cold tea too. I try to avoid coffee because it decreases the heart rate and blood pressure.

At a particular age, coffee makes the heart beats, it’s a stimulant. Kola and coffee are stimulants that affect the heart.

Some people said, fruit increases sugar level…

There are some fruits that are very ripe and when they are too sweet, one might not be able to manage the sugar content. But there are others that don’t have too much sugar.

If you are diabetic, it is advisable not to eat those fruits that taste very sweet. Fruits including watermelon is good and banana in its little quantity. A diabetic can only take one banana daily while fruits should be taken in moderation. There are different fruits for different health conditions.

Nutritional values of Guavas

The guava fruit contains around four times the amount of vitamin C as oranges. Vitamin C is needed as it helps to protect the bodies’ cells and tissues from free radical damage which can lead to cancer. Vitamin C also aids dietary iron absorption in the body.

The guava fruit is very high in lycpene which helps to protect the bodies’ cells from free radical damage, and also helps to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol thereby slowing the development of atherosclerosis.

Moderately high in potassium, the guava can help your muscles and nerves to function properly, maintain the bodies’ acid balance and help lower the risk of high blood pressure.

It contains contain cartenoids and polyphenols which are the major classes of antioxidants pigments. Therefore, guava nutrition is quite high in dietary antioxidant value amongst plant foods.

These antioxidants give the fruit its colour so red and orange guavas will contain more of these antioxidants than yellow or green ones.

It is also rich in vitamin A which can help preserve and improve your eyesight and help to fight off viral infections.

It is also a good source of dietary fibre which supports bowel regularity and maintains normal blood cholesterol levels.

One average guava contains around 37 calories.

FG tasks on improving nutrition of women and children

As part of efforts to improving nutrition of women and children in the country, stakeholders in the agricultural sector as well as Nigerian Academy of Science have called on the Federal government to inaugurate without further delay, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) already approved by the Federal Executive Council.

Comprising of representatives of all key stakeholders including the agricultural sector, the groups urged that the council be empowered with the mandate to promote and coordinate all nutrition-related policy and programmatic interventions in Nigeria.

Government was also urged to incorporate a nutrition agenda with clear links to the agricultural sector into the National Development Plan with reference to the MDGs, Vision 202020, NEEDS 2, NEPAD, the National 7-point Agenda, and the National Food and Nutrition Policy.

In a keynotes address, President of Academy of Science, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe noted that adequate funding should be allocated in the budgets of the relevant government ministries and parastatals to promote and support linkages between the agriculture and nutrition sectors in the areas of policy development, research, planning and implementation of nutrition and agricultural interventions.

“Private sector food production, processing, packaging and marketing industries should be encouraged to build partnerships with research and training institutions engaged in agricultural, nutrition and bio-fortification/biotechnology research and evaluation;

Meanwhile, the President of Federation of African Nutrition Societies, FANUS, Prof. Tola Atinmo, says International agencies and non-governmental organizations should include a focus on strengthening synergies between agriculture and nutrition in the development, implementation and evaluation of their intervention programmes.

 Health tips for hypertensive, diabetics and hepatitis B

People find it difficult to engage their doctor in an interactive discourse on their health. They find sitting with their doctor a waste of time. For the young ones, it is better to prevent being ill. I will suggest that people should rest and eat. Many people use their leave period for other businesses.

It is good to rest and take a nice sleep. See the doctor for regular check-up within a minimum of one year, prevention is better than cure. It is good for the young ones to know that eating excessive salt affects good health. Salt in-take contributes significantly to hypertension.

Fruits and vegetables are very important for healthy living. People should rest and live decently, they shouldn’t expose themselves to health problems.

 The Day’s Menu

Edikai Ikong Soup

Edikai ikong is a Nigerian dish made from a variety of indigenous leafy green vegetables. The dish, literally translated, means ‘Pumpkin and water-leaf Soup,’ and is native to the South Eastern part of Nigeria, more specifically, the Calabars.

It is an incredibly rich vegetable soup as it involves the use of more than two vegetables. Typically, it is made with just ugwu (Pumpkin leaves) and water-leaf.


Ugwu Leaves, water-leaf, crayfish, dried fish, snails, goat meat, pomo (skin leather), palm oil, onions, pepper, seasoning and salt.


Wash your ugwu leaf and chop the leaves into slices. Wash the waterleaf too and set aside.

Blend crayfish into powder. Wash the snails thorough, break up the dried fish in a bowl pour in boiling water, add about two spoon heaps of salt. Wash the fish in the hot salt water to remove sand and other dirt. Remove fish from salt water and set aside. Grind peppers to a paste. Set aside.

In a medium sized covered pot, bring all meats (beef, pomo) but not snails to steam without adding water.

Add beef stock seasoning, 1/4 cup of water and salt, and cook till meat is tender (five to fifteen minutes).

Add waterleaf to meat and beef stock then stir. Add the crayfish, stir and let boil until most liquid in the pot evaporates. Add the snails at this stage so that it will cook just right.

Add pepper and salt and stir. Add the ugwu or spinach, stir and allow to boil over (about one minute). Add the palm oil, stir and let boil for five more minutes.

Turn off heat and serve.


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