An Abuja based Nutrition and Fitness Coach, Mr Olu Aijotan has advised Christians to develop and practice healthy eating habits as they observe the lent season.
Aijotan, who gave the advice in an interview with the Newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja, said food had been recognised as the most important aspect of man’s lifestyle.
Lent is the period of 40 days fasting which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. It is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter.
“Fasting is a great opportunity to gain spiritual strength and to practice self-restraint which are requirements under both Christian and Muslim religion,’’ he said.
Aijotan said the first thing to do after breaking fast was to rehydrate the body before eating any food.
“Your body will be dehydrated by the time you are to break your fast, you will be thirsty and hungry, however, your body will require water quicker than food.
“When you are drinking the water, ensure you do this slowly and don’t guzzle it down, guzzling water down the throat could make your stomach feel tight for a moment,’’ he said.
In keeping fit and healthy, he stressed the need to eat foods low in carbohydrate and more in protein and vegetables.
“Let your meals contain foods like fish such as mackerel, salmon and tilapia; chicken, vegetables like cabbage, cucumber, vegetables such as `ugwu’ and `Ewedu’.
“Other healthy foods you can eat are `ofada’ or brown rice, moi moi, millet, semolina, wheat meal, almond, cashew nuts, eggs, skimmed milk among others.
“Fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, oranges, banana,’’ he said.
Aijotan said foods such as sugar, white bread, white rice, ice cream, sweets, cakes, muffins, soda, and soft drinks should be avoided to prevent weight gain.
He said the lent season was about self-restriction, stressing that eating such meals once a week could be allowed but in small portions.
The nutrition and fitness coach also noted that it was more appropriate to eat moderately than to overeat when breaking fast.
“While breaking the fast, it is understandable that you’ll be very hungry however that is the fastest way to gain weight as food is the source that sustains or shortens life.
“Overeating once a day leads to weight gain as body thinks it is in a state of famine and your body reacts by slowing down your metabolism which in turn stores what you eat as fat.
“After you eat a large meal, your blood sugar level increases, and your body realizes this and in response quickly releases lots of insulin to bring the blood sugar levels back down.
“When it does this, the extra sugar from the process is stored as fat and that is not good for you.
“Instead, eat small portions of healthy meals through the evening before fast to keep your metabolism level adequate and to maintain the blood sugar level,’’ he said.
He further advised on the need to exercise one hour before breaking the fast in the evening while engaging in light exercises such as jumping jacks and treadmill.
“When you exercise 30 minutes to one hour before you break your fast, you will be able to get healthy food in to your system quicker that your body will burn easily.
“If you decide to exercise after you break, ensure you wait at least two to three hours for your meal to digest before engaging in exercise,’’ he said.