The ABCs of health for your child – Part 1

Posted on


As parents, our responsibility to nurture our children requires a holistic approach – taking into consideration the whole child. Healthy living for your child requires that you place equal importance on your child’s physical, developmental, emotional and social wellbeing.

Africans, like Asians, are known for placing a lot of emphasis on the academic development of their children. This parental focus on academics is not necessarily a bad thing but can become an obstacle to the overall wellbeing of a child, if other areas of development are ignored.

The ABCs

  • Healthy Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Dental Health
  • Emotional Health

In addition to well child doctor visits to make sure his overall development is on track, your child should receive all the recommended vaccinations. The ABC’s of child health are the health basics you need to pay careful attention to at home on a daily basis.

Helping Kids Eat Healthy

Good nutrition is essential to good health for all kids whether they’re babies or teenagers.

Couple of african children crying


  • Breast milk only until 6 months of age + vitamins
  • Begin Iron-fortified cereals, pureed fruits and vegetables at 6 months
  • Add lean meats and eggs when the above are well tolerated (8 months)
  • Begin table foods at 9 months (avoid small hard foods that can choke the baby)
  • Continue breast milk until 12 months if possible

Toddlers (1 – 3 years)

  • Growth and appetite come in spurts at this age so they’re often picky eaters
  • 4 -5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily for fiber and valuable nutrients
  • Fiber is essential for digestive health and is good for the heart
  • 2 – 3 servings of whole milk daily for calcium
  • Avoid the juice trap – it’s mostly sugar. Give Water! Water! Water!
  • Avoid the junk food trap because you’re desperate for him to eat anything!


Elementary school age (4 – 10 years)

  • Eat most nutritious foods from all 5 food groups
  • 4 -5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily for fiber and valuable nutrients
  • 2 – 3 servings of low fat milk daily for calcium
  • Avoid the sugar trap – juice, soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes, starchy foods
  • Watch out for fats and salty foods
  • Water! Water! Water!


Preteens and Teens (11 – 18 years)

  • More calcium needed at this age for bone mass
  • Menstruating girls need more iron, boys need more protein for muscle mass
  • 4 -5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily for fiber and valuable nutrients
  • 2 – 3 servings of low fat milk daily for calcium
  • Avoid the sugar trap – juice, soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes, starchy foods
  • Watch out for fats and salty foods
  • Water! Water! Water!

In the next blog post we’ll review fitness, emotional and dental health for your child.

Serious About Losing Weight? Try This. By Maje Ayida

Posted on

A black woman holding an assortment of fruit
A black woman holding an assortment of fruit


When you’re serious about losing weight, making the right food choices is probably about as important as it gets. Here’s a general guide.


Bad Foods


Gluten, the protein in wheat, has not been around as long as you may think. Many people suffer with this irritating protein. Removing all gluten from your diet will have a profound effect including stopping: bloating, headaches, skin problems, fatigue and so much more. So, no Breads, Pasta, Wheat based sauces etc.



Milk is meant for baby cows not humans. Many people are lactose intolerant and cannot break down the lactose sugar in milk. Milk is not as high in calcium as you may think, there is more calcium in leafy greens. So, no milk, cream or cheese!



Stimulants like sugar, caffeine and alcohol play havoc with your nervous system and blood sugar levels. Sugar is everywhere so beware, if it ends in “ose” it’s a sugar: Sucrose, Fructose, Maltose, Glucose.

5 nutrition textures

Good Foods


Vegetables, now we are talking. Eat as many as you can. Eat with the seasons and try to get a good mixture of colours. Try not to boil the nutrients away, steam, eat raw or add to stews. If you do boil them use the water for soups and sauces. Go organic!



Don’t be afraid of meat. Protein is necessary to repair muscle and a vital source of nutrients. Try all types from fish to red meat, white meat and game. Don’t be afraid of the fat, if its organic you can eat it, just like our ancestors did!



The science for eating more good fat is overwhelming. The body actually produces its own saturated fat, it’s so important to good health. Bad fats are the enemy so only stick to the good fats like: olive oil, coconut oil, rapeseed oil, butter and organic animal fats!



Be Careful With:


Eggs are an excellent protein source and good for breakfast but not everyone can tolerate them. If you can eat them, great! Make sure you eat the yolk too that’s the best bit and utter nonsense about causing high cholesterol. Go Organic! Some people can also tolerate Natural Plain Yoghurt!



Fruit has changed over thousands of years. Today fruit is loaded with sugar and can potentially disrupt sugar balance. Limit fruit to only when it is naturally in season. Fruit should never replace a meal. Limit to one piece per day!



Rice, Beans and Lentils can all be a great source of slow releasing carbohydrate. But just like fruit they can disrupt sugar and energy levels. Don’t overly rely on these types of foods, treat them as a side rather than a main meal.


In our next post, we’ll put it all together to build great meals.


Maje Ayida is a Wellness Coach and CEO of the award winning Health and Fitness Brand, Eden Lifestyle. The visionary behind the popular HIIT Squad, he is also a fitness columnist for a national newspaper, and has made numerous television and radio appearances, educating and motivation Nigerians on healthy living.

Serious About Losing Weight? Try This.- By Guest blogger – Maje Ayida

Posted on

Assortment of fresh Organic Vegetables /  on the Wooden Desk

No amount of exercise will undo a bad diet. If you think about it from a calorie perspective you may workout 3, 4 or even 5 times per week but you eat 21 meals a week. It’s simply no contest. Good nutrition is NOT just about calories. Food and drink affects you at a cellular level, the complexity is enormous. Fats, Carbs and Proteins all have their part to play in forming a fit and healthy functioning body.


The idea that Fat Loss is simply an equation of Calories IN versus Calories OUT undermines the body’s essential needs. Do you really think that 100 calories of Ice Cream and 100 calories of Broccoli really have the same impact on the body?

 Close Up Of Overweight Woman Trying To Fasten Trousers

Changing your diet dramatically can and will have effects on your body. Although everything shared with you is well researched and totally natural some adverse effects may occur. If you are pregnant, or on any prescription drugs, then confirmation from your doctor is recommended. OK, that’s the legal stuff out the way – lets get started.


The world is getting sicker, fatter and less healthy. Money rules. Big corporations with big marketing budgets are out to get you. Don’t be fooled. Listen to your body and your basic instincts. Always bare in mind that most companies DO NOT have your optimal health in mind when they are selling you fancy foods and drinks. Let’s not forget where we came from. For millions of years we have evolved, eating and drinking foods from nature. We didn’t get where we are today eating processed foods, sugar based drinks or low fat ready meals. We don’t just come from nature we are nature. Everything we eat and drink becomes us. There is nothing more important for your health than what you eat and drink. Bring life into your body by eating live foods not dead ones!


Food choices abound, and there’s so much information out there online and in the blogger-sphere. Where do you start? The commonsense approach is to choose organic foods whenever possible, avoid “bad” foods and eat even “good” foods in moderation.


In our next post we’ll take a look at the foods that are both good and bad for us, and how we can improve our diet.


Maje Ayida is a Wellness Coach and CEO of the award winning Health and Fitness Brand, Eden Lifestyle. The visionary behind the popular HIIT Squad, he is also a fitness columnist for a national newspaper, and has made numerous television and radio appearances, educating and motivation Nigerians on healthy living. Maje is currently the host of a morning fitness television show, Work It Out, showing across Africa; and was a featured judge on Nigeria’s first weight loss reality tv show, The Fastest Shedder.

Building a healthy eating style

Posted on Updated on

Everything you eat and drink matters. The right combination of foods can help you be healthier now and in the future. Eating a healthy diet can prevent chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and even some cancers. If you already have any of these conditions, a healthy diet can lead to significant improvement.


  • Focus on variety, amount, and good nutritional content – complex carbohydrates instead of simple refined carbohydrates for example.
  • Choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, less salt, and added sugars.
  • Start with small changes to build healthier eating styles.


What should you eat?

Your meals should include:


Keeping a food journal is a good way to become aware of your eating habits.       

It may help to first understand your current eating habits – what you eat and why you eat. Keep a food journal for 1 week by writing down what you eat, how much, and what time of day you ate it. Write down what else you were doing and how you were feeling when you ate, such as being hungry, stressed, tired, or bored. For example, maybe you were at work and were bored. Review your journal at the end of the week and look at your eating habits.


  • Reflect – think about what triggers, or prompts, may be causing some of your eating habits.
  • Eat slowly; eat only when you are hungry; plan your meals; control your portion sizes.
  • Get rid of unhealthy foods


How much should you eat?

Eat the right amount of calories for you based on your age, gender and physical activity level.


Daily calorie estimates determined by the Institute of Medicine

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.20.55 AM

Portion control

 This is what your plate should look like – balanced! It is best for adults to replace the cup of dairy with water. In hot climates, 2 – 3 litres of water per day is needed to stay well hydrated.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.22.27 AM

Calorie content of some traditional Nigerian foods

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.23.35 AM


Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.24.25 AM

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.25.46 AM

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.25.58 AM


Food – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted on


Rainbow heart 

Did you know that there was a time in Africa, when what you ate wasn’t a big deal in terms of its negative effect on your health? Sixty to seventy-five years ago, most Africans had an active lifestyle, farming and doing other forms of manual labor for a living; walking as a mode of transportation because only expatriates and wealthy elites had motorized vehicles. There weren’t any fast food chains, like Burger King or KFC. Food scarcity from drought or civil war resulted in malnutrition as the main nutritional problem.

Fast forward to today, when modernization and economic development have resulted in the adoption of western lifestyles such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and an unhealthy diet – particularly among rapidly expanding urban populations. As a result, non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancers are rising rapidly.

How do you practice healthy eating in the new Africa?


No single food supplies all the nutrients your body needs to function at its best. A healthy diet is one that combines the five different food groups in the right proportion daily, to supply the necessary nutrition.


Five food groups:


Dairy (milk group): the foods in this group are excellent sources of calcium, which is important for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Calcium ensures proper function of your cells, muscles, and nerves. Unfortunately, people of African ancestry develop intolerance to lactose, the natural sugar in milk, after about 10 years of age. Other good sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, okra, oranges, sardines, salmon, almonds and white beans.

Fruit: provides vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and many phytonutrients (nutrients naturally present in plants), that help your body stay healthy.

Grains (also called carbohydrate or carbs): choose wholegrain and/or high fiber varieties of breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, etc. These are usually brown in color. Refined grain products (such as cakes or biscuits) can be high in added sugar, fat and salt.

Protein: meats, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts. Protein builds, maintains, and repairs the tissues in your body. Muscles and body organs are made of protein.

Vegetables: should make up a large part of your daily food intake and should be eaten at every meal. They provide vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and phytonutrients (nutrients naturally present in plants) to help your body stay healthy.


The balancing act

Three nutrients — carbohydrate, protein, and fat — contain calories that your body uses for energy. All foods contain these nutrients singly or in combination. According to current U.S. dietary guidelines here’s how to balance these nutrients in a healthy diet. Popular smartphone fitness apps can help guide you as well.


Carbohydrate – About half (45% – 50%) of your total daily calories should come from carbohydrate. Carbs contain the most glucose (sugar) and give the quickest form of energy. Your body changes 100% of carbohydrate into glucose which is used for the energy that you need right away, and the rest is stored in your liver. Once your liver has reached its storage limit, your body turns the extra carbohydrate into fat.


There are two types of carbohydrate:

Healthy carbs: Also called complex or slower-acting carbs. This type of carbohydrate raises blood sugar slowly and lasts longer. This helps keep you from feeling hungry for a longer time and keeps blood sugar levels closer to normal.

Not-so-healthy carbs: Also known as simple, refined or fast-acting carbs. This type of carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels very quickly, but doesn’t last very long. That’s why these carbs work well to correct low-blood sugar but don’t satisfy hunger as well as healthy carbs.

See the table below for examples.


Protein – In a healthy diet, about a quarter (20% – 25%) of your total daily calories should come from protein. Lean protein is best – see the table below.


Fat has the most calories of all the nutrients. In a healthy diet, about one third (30%) of total daily calories should come from fat. Fat gives the body energy, too, but the body changes only about 10 percent of fat into glucose. Fat slows down digestion, and can keep your blood sugar levels higher for a longer period of time.


There are various types of fat, and some are better for you than others. Fats that are liquid at room temperature (unsaturated fats) are especially healthy because they lower the bad cholesterol in your blood. These fats include olive, canola, avocado, and nut oils.

Fats that are solid at room temperature (saturated fats, trans fats) are unhealthy. They raise the bad cholesterol in your blood and are found in foods that come from animals, such as meat and dairy products (butter, cheese). They are also found in plant oils such as coconut oil and palm oil.





Food Healthy Choices Not-so-healthy Choices
Carbohydrates (grains)

Bread, rice, pasta, noodles

Complex carbs – multigrain bread, brown rice, lentils, oats, millet, whole wheat, quinoa and beans Refined carbs such as cake, pasta,

White bread, noodles, sweets biscuits, soft drinks, juice drinks


Meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs

lean beef, veal, pork, ham, goat, lamb, skinless chicken and turkey. Fish, beans and nuts Fatty meats, skin of any animal or poultry, bacon, frankfurter, sausage

Milk, yoghurt, cheese

Skim milk, low fat yoghurt Full cream milk, cheese, full fat yoghurt
Fruit All fruits, unsweetened fruit juice Sweetened fruit juices

Green, red, yellow vegetables

Green leafy vegetables, peppers, carrots, green beans, broccoli Starchy vegetables such corn

yam, potato, cassava,

Fats/Oils Olive, canola, avocado, groundnut and vegetable oils Palm oil, coconut oil, margarine, butter, lard




Eat to live, don’t live to eat.

Posted on

Assortment of fresh Organic Vegetables /  on the Wooden Desk


You’ve probably heard and read so much about healthy eating that you’re sick and tired of it all.

It just seems like too much work and no fun! The fact none of us can get away from however is that healthy eating, like fitness, is one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle.


Understanding some basic principles of nutrition will help it all make sense and perhaps even spur you on to take that leap into a healthier future. It is never too late to make good lifestyle changes that improve your chances of living long and living healthy.


Metabolism and why it’s important

Metabolism refers to the biochemical processes that your body uses to carry out basic functions, such as breathing, keeping your heart pumping, digestion, controlling body temperature, brain function, and cell growth. Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is the amount of energy, measured in calories, that is needed to allow your body to carry out these basic life functions at rest or when sleeping. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) affects the rate that you burn calories and is an important factor in whether you maintain, gain, or lose weight.


Several factors affect your BMR including age, genetics, weight, body fat percentage, your general state of health and gender. The lower your BMR, the more likely you are to be overweight. Your BMR slows down at roughly 5% every 10 years after the age of 20. This is why you gain weight, as you get older, if you maintain the same eating habits. Women have a lower BMR than men, because men usually have a lower percentage of body fat and a higher percentage of muscle. The higher your body fat percentage the lower your BMR.


Your total daily calorie requirement is the amount of calories needed for basic body functions, and any activity you do. It is equal to your BMR plus the calories needed for activity. The more active you are, the more calories you will expend or burn.


Total Daily Calorie Requirement:

  • Sedentary(little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active(easy exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active(moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
  • Very active(hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
  • Extremely active(very hard exercise/sports and physical job): BMR x 1.9

An active person burns up to one and a half times more calories than a sedentary person.


What goes in must come out

If you eat more than your body needs daily (BMR + your activity level), you will become overweight – that’s the bald truth. Here’s the good news – if you can increase your activity level a little and eat more nutritious foods, you can begin to correct the results of years of unhealthy eating habits.


Eating more calories than you expend = weight gain, as extra calories are stored as fat.

Eating the same calories as you expend = maintain your weight as there are no extra calories.

Eating fewer calories than you expend = weight loss, as your body uses up stored fat for additional energy.


Join us as we discuss good and bad foods in our next post.