By Bunmi Sofola

ONE of the things that frighten a lot of us is dying before our time. To achieve our dream of longevity, experts advice we lead a relatively healthy lifestyle, exercise daily, drink in moderation, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and – most important of all- shun fatty foods including butter and dairy products to reduce the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, all that’s turned out to be a huge waste of time! The truth is, we shall probably die at exactly the same age as our mums and dads, and we will have wasted decades on a virtuous eating plan, based on a lie!

Early in the year, we were told by these same ‘experts’ that the advice dished out by doctors around 1983 – that to avoid heart disease we must cut out fat intake drastically, and increase our carbohydrate correspondingly – turns out to be based on flawed evidence. Shockingly, they reversed their opinion and said they find it ‘incomprehensible’ that millions of us were advised to alter our diets because the conclusion that fats were bad was based on a small sample of ‘unhealthy men’. (Just as shockingly, women weren’t even included in the original survey!)

To those who always loved good food, they were rightly annoyed by this about-face of these ‘experts’, having spent all those years since 1983 eating slimy, flavourless, low-fat spreads, cutting down on meat (or avoiding it totally) and never indulging in slap-up pounded yam and egusi soup or the mouth-watering amala with ewedu/ gbegiri  soup!.

Thanks to ‘official advice’ from ‘government health advisers’, they continue guzzling black tea, not eating trifle and spurning ice cream. They were totally brainwashed about butter, along with local sugary diet. But then, when it comes to lifestyle advice why should anyone bother listening to the medical profession? “Doctors are usually over- weight, middle-aged men with paunches,” snorted Arit, a fortysomething foodie like me who’s sworn to eat what she loves – in moderation. “My own doctor on the other hand is an old friend and a fitness fanatic, a jogger so scrawling he looks on the point of starvation  every time I walk through his door – I mean who wants to look like that!? He’s always had this fat-measuring gadget handy to check on my body mass index. (Another discredited method, incidentally, of measuring how near to death we are).

“Both my parents ate thick slices of boiled;yam with savoury friend eggs dripping in oil. They loved (swallow) food with stew crammed with assorted pieces of meat and dried fish. Yes, we ate fish too cooked in rich stew; and the idea of a whole-meal grain, or a low-fat vegetarian meal was a complete alien concept to them. They took sugar in their tea, and salt was always on the table. Yet both of them were as thin as rakes and walked for miles well into old age. Most of my parents’ friends were healthy looking pensioners over 80 who survive on rich traditional meals interspersed with the odd cigarette and a bottle of bear or gin (be it local or imported!)”.

“All of a sudden, we’ve decided we didn’t want to age like them or get wrinkly and stooped, so we adopted every life – extending fad going, starting with no saturated fat. These days, you get a few of your friends trying to sell you different types of bitters and funny-sounding teas to  help you take 10 years or more off your age! a few of these items I grudgingly bought now sit on a shelf, next to other health rubbish I’d been arm-twisted to buy because of their bogus claim that they are `cholesterol-lowering’. And the tastes are horrible!

“Almost by magic, there was the fuss about the benefits of eating five fruits and veg a day. Last year, a nutrition survey in the UK concluded that only ten per cent of boys and seven per cent of girls had heeded that advice.  According to a report: “Yes, a million people have down-loaded the app, and 1.9 million families joined the scheme – but when it came to  actually EATING fruit and veg, the average number of portions a day we consume remains three – and, like the great Butter Scandal, experts can’t agree whether it should be five portions, or seven, or what even  constitutes a portion.”

As for me, I’m too set in my ways to change. My longevity breakfast  will remain either bread (a slice) with plenty of sausages or rashes of  bacon; boiled yam with fresh fish stew or moin-moin! Yes, a pat of butter once in a while, then milk in my tea with sugar (or maybe sweeteners). I intend to spoil myself into the New Year too! The moral of this saga is: eat a little of whatever you like, don’t listen to ‘expert’ busy-bodies – and remember that butter is not only delicious, it’s also officially good for you. So follow your instinct and be good to yourself!

Simple Pleasures You Need To Beat The Blues

There are some sure-five ways experts have come up with to put a smile back on your face – and here are FIVE of the things they agreed will make us happier …

Make a new friend: Studies show that being able to count at least 10 people as good friends makes us happy. But having dozens of friends makes us even happier.

Researchers have also found that childhood mates are no more likely to make us happy than people we become close to later in life. So, it’s never too late to know someone better.

Put the radio on: Listening to music  makes us so happy that it can perk us up even when we’re doing something we usually hate. Listening to gentle classical music can help keep us happy by calming us down.

Take a brisk walk: Even a single session of moderate exercise lasting 20-30 minutes can give our mood an instant and natural lift. In addition to releasing endorphins – the body’s feel-good hormones – exercise raises body temperature by one to two degrees.

Treat Yourself: Experts say that lots of small simple pleasures make us much happier than one big one. So, use any spare cash to give yourself a little treat every day or every week, such as a favourite magazine, a tasty snack or new music, rather than spending it on one slap-up meal

or trip to an expensive salon.

Count your Blessings: Psychologists say that simple techniques such as listing our strengths and using them in new ways every day, or keeping a journal where every night we write down three.


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