Cook at home more and eat out less

YES…there’s a day dedicated to honouring food! We’re indeed in uncertain times. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 global health crisis has allowed us to truly reflect on and rekindle our appreciation for things we would have normally taken for granted – hugging friends and family, freedom to move about, being in gatherings, and even food. 

Food is the essence of life and forms the bedrock of our cultures, communities and country. From your favourite food and all the good stuff in between, there are so many amazing dishes and ingredients to indulge in, and World Food Day celebrates them all.

Across the globe, World Food Day is observed every year since 1979 on October 16 in remembrance of the day when the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations was founded in 1945. The primary focus is to promote global awareness and action to eradicate hunger and ensure food security around the world, with the provision of healthy diets for all.

This year’s World Food Day marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of FAO, with the theme: “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.” It sought to highlight how food and agriculture are an essential part of the COVID-19 response, in terms of preserving the access to safe and nutritious food, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities.

At the same time, it celebrates the people who produce, plant, harvest, fish or transport our food despite these circumstances, thus helping to grow, nourish and sustain our world.

Education has grown steadily about healthy diets, but we aren’t there yet. World Food Day can, therefore, also be used to raise awareness of the importance of eating healthy diets to promote good health and well-being, especially in this COVID-19 era. 

Healthy eating is basically the act and art of eating a variety of nutritious foods to provide energy for body functions, prevent and manage lifestyle diseases, improve overall health and to feel good. Generally, healthy meals should be balanced, adequate, and varied, while being eaten in moderation and at appropriate times.

Ghana is blessed in many aspects, and good food is no exception. Nonetheless, there’re many ways we can improve, alternate or enrich our local dishes that aren’t so healthy. Here are some healthy choices you can practice:

1. Include vegetables in your meals, be it in the form of stews, soups and lightly-dressed salads.

2. Choose and prepare foods low in salt. Replace artificial spices with natural ones such as ginger, garlic, dawadawa, prekese, coriander, and mint.

3. Cut down, or if possible, avoid alcohol.

4. Limit the intake of refined and processed foods. These foods are usually high in bad fats, salt and preservatives. Examples include processed meats, canned and take-away foods.

5. Cook at home more often and try to eat out less. For one, it’s relatively easier on your pocket and secondly, by cooking your food yourself, you’ll know exactly what is in it.

6. Opt for low-fat cooking methods, which are healthier, such as steaming, grilling and boiling instead of frying.

7. Avoid overheating food, including oils as it reduces the quality of foods. Fruits and vegetables are especially encouraged to be taken as fresh as possible.

8. Limit intake of sugary foods and beverages. Swap them for whole fruits.
Everyone involved in the food sector plays an important role in ensuring nutritious food is available – but you can make a difference too!

Consumers are more than just eaters; you also have the power to influence what is produced through healthy food choices, which in turn contributes to more sustainable food systems.
With the help of information from FAO, here are some everyday actions to become a food hero and make healthy food part of your lifestyle:

• Choose healthy and diverse. A healthy diet contributes to a healthy life. When we choose to eat diverse foods, we encourage a variety of foods to be produced. This is not only healthier for our bodies, but healthier for soils and our environment because a diverse diet favours biodiversity.

• Buy locally grown, nutritious fresh food. By doing this, you’re also helping the farmers that produced the food and the economy at large.

• Grow food at home. If you have a green space at home or a balcony with space for plant pots, you can also grow your own fruits, vegetables and herbs.

You’ll learn a lot about how food is produced and grow your appreciation for all the work that goes into cultivating produce. Besides, you’ll also know where your food is coming from and be rest assured that it is safe and wholesome!

• Avoid food wastage. Food loss and waste can occur throughout the food system, right from the farm till it arrives at your table – but, you can play your part! Learning how to store uneaten food properly is one way to avoid wasting perfectly good food. One way is to keep perishable items refrigerated or frozen at temperatures below 5 °C.

In summary, there’s one basic need we all cherish and cannot live without: food. We all have a role to play in the celebration of World Food Day, especially by increasing the overall demand for nutritious food by choosing healthily. Always remember that your health is your wealth!

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