CEO Cameroon Link
A balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrition it needs to function properly. In order to get truly balanced nutrition, you should obtain the majority of your daily calories from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
What Are Calories?
The number of calories in a meal is a measure of the amount of energy stored in that food. Your body uses calories from food for walking, thinking, breathing, and everything else it does. The average person needs to eat about 2,000 calories every day to maintain his or her weight.
A person’s daily calorie intake should be based on age, gender, and physical activity level. Men generally need more calories than women, and active people need more calories than sedentary (inactive) people.
The following examples of calorie intake are based on Cameroon Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Animal Breeding guidelines:
•children ages 2 to 8: 1,000 to 1,400
•active women ages 14 to 30: 2,400
•sedentary women ages 14 to 30: 1,800 to 2,000
•active men ages 14 to 30: 2,800 to 3,000
•sedentary men ages 14 to 30: 2,000 to 2,600
•active men and women over 30: 2,200 to 3,000
•sedentary men and women over 30: 1,800 to 2,200
The source of your daily calories is just as important as the number of calories you consume. You should limit your consumption of “empty calories,” or those that provide little or no nutritional value. The Cameroon Ministry of Agriculture defines empty calories as calories that come from sugars and solid fats, such as butter and shortening.
According to the Cameroon Ministry of Health Cameroonians consume empty calories most often in:
•bacon and sausages
•sports drinks and sodas
Why a Balanced Diet Is Important
A balanced diet is important because your body’s organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively. Without good nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance. Children with a poor diet run the risk of growth and developmental problems. Bad eating habits can continue for the rest of their lives.
Rising levels of obesity and diabetes in Cameroon are prime examples of the effects of poor diet and lack of exercise. The department for health promotion of the ministry of public health reports that four of the top 10 leading causes of death in Cameroon are directly influenced by diet. These are:
How to Achieve a Balanced Diet
At the core of a balanced diet are foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and low in unnecessary fats and sugars. The following are essential parts of a balanced diet.
Besides being a great source of nutrition, fruits make quick and tasty snacks. Choose fruits that are in season in your area—they are fresher and provide the most nutrients.
Vegetables are primary sources of essential vitamins and minerals. Dark, leafy greens generally contain the most nutrition and can be eaten at every meal. Examples include spinach, kale, green beans, broccoli, and collard greens.
In Cameroon, we consume refined white flour more than any other grain. During the refining Grains
In Cameroon, we consume refined white flour more than any other grain. During the refining process, the hull of the grain—the outer shell—is removed. Unfortunately, the hull is where the majority of the grain’s nutrition lies. Whole grains, which are prepared using the entire grain, including the hull, provide much more nutrition. Try switching from white to whole-grain breads and pastas.
Meats and beans are primary sources of protein, which is essential for proper muscle and brain development. Lean, low-fat meats such as chicken, fish, and certain cuts of beef and pork are the best option. Removing the skin and trimming off any visible fat are easy ways to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in meats.
Nuts and beans, such as lentils, peas, almonds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts, are also good sources of protein. Tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based products are excellent sources of protein and are healthy alternatives to meat.
Dairy products provide calcium, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients. However, they are also major sources of fat, so it is best to choose reduced-fat or fat-free cheeses, milk, and yogurt.
Oils should be used sparingly. Opt for low-fat versions of products that contain oil, such as salad dressing and mayonnaise. Good oils, such as olive oil, can replace fattier vegetable oil in your diet. Avoid foods that have been deep-fried in oil because they contain a large number of empty calories.
The Sub department for food and nutrition of the ministry of public health highlights the key substances that Cameroonians should consume less of in order to maintain a balanced diet and a healthy weight:
•solid and saturated fats
If you have questions about your diet or feel that you need to lose weight or eat better, schedule an appointment with your doctor or a nutritionist. They can suggest dietary changes that will help you get the nutrition you need and, if necessary, lose weight I hope this is helpful and answers your question. Thank you!
James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.