She also shares three healthy and affordable recipes
By CityLife Arts Writer
Obesity is one of the biggest health crises facing the world today with nearly 1 billion people living with the disease. World Obesity Day takes place on Saturday, March 4, and aims to correct misconceptions surrounding obesity while taking effective and collective action.
Miss South Africa 2022 runner-up Ayanda Thabethe – who will be representing this country at Miss Supranational in Poland in July as Miss Supranational South Africa – this week launched her advocacy campaign Project Khulisa, which aims to help communities struggling with food insecurity while also opening critical discussions around nutrition and this country’s double burden of malnutrition and obesity.
The 23-year-old Thabethe, who was in her final year of a BSc in Dietetics and Human Nutrition at the University of KwaZulu Natal when she entered the pageant last year, discusses the complexities of obesity and shares some affordable and nutritious recipes.
In your opinion how serious is the obesity problem in this country?
Obesity is the enemy and is under-estimated in South Africa. Through a number of mechanisms, some as simple as the mechanical stress of carrying excess weight and others involving complex changes in hormones and metabolism, obesity raises the risk of various fatal and disabling diseases. In addition to raising individual, national and international healthcare expenses, it also reduces the quality and length of life. The danger of obesity in our country is that many people do not perceive it as a health condition. Some cultures equate obesity to meaning that one is well off or being treated well.
How do we ensure that we don’t simply “fat shame” people?
Having a conversation about obesity can be difficult for anyone. Obesity is not a symptom of laziness or a lack of self-control, as some people incorrectly believe. A number of factors – such as heredity, mental health problems, changes in daily routines, chronic stress, hormone imbalances or medication side effects – might contribute to obesity as a health condition. Despite the cause, suffering silently by yourself will not help you recover from a health condition. Instead, we must approach obesity the same way we do any other health problems, by consulting with our doctor. It also impacts how people perceive themselves in the mirror and their sense of self-worth.
What are the health risks associated with obesity?
Nearly every element of health is negatively impacted by excess weight, from memory and mood to reproductive and pulmonary function. Obesity raises the risk of many fatal and disabling conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and various cancers.
Can you share five top tips for those battling with their weight
- Choose to either eat five or six modest meals or three decent size meals a day with a small snack or two inbetween if necessary. Either method will maintain a steady blood sugar level and an even metabolism. Your body will work better and prevent weight gain if you are in balance.
- If you’re in good health and satisfied with your weight, an intense workout routine is fine. But a moderate fitness routine will work better for you if you’re having trouble losing weight. You will gain more benefits from regular 30-minute walks than from a strenuous, impossible-to-continue 90-minute workout.
- Avoid “emotional eating”. Being conscious of when you eat because of stress or for comfort is half the battle. You might want to think about employing holistic psychotherapy or meditation to help you let go of old eating habits. You might just find yourself fitting into clothes you haven’t been able to for years!
- Try to assemble each meal with a protein source, healthy fat source, complex carb, and vegetables. And remember that leafy green vegetables are a great way to bulk up a meal with low calories and lots of nutrients. We need to cut out white starch and sugars and increase our vegetable intake.
- Stop skipping meals! Your body may assume it is starving if you skip meals.
PEA FRITTERS WITH MINTY YOGHURT (Serves 4)
300g frozen peas
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Pinch of salt
1tsp baking powder
60g of cake flour
Oil for shallow frying
A handful of chopped mint
250g yoghurt or amasi
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Defrost the peas and blend half of them, along with the eggs, garlic and salt in a large bowl. Add baking powder and flour then fold in the remaining half of the peas. Heat oil in a frying pan and using a heaped tablespoon scoop the batter into the oil. Fry the fritters until golden, turning once. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Rinse, dry and chop up the mint leaves then mix them with the yoghurt in a small bowl. Serve the fritters with the yoghurt, mint sauce and lemon wedges.
YUMMY PILCHARD FISHCAKES (Serves 4)
400g potatoes, peeled and cubed
400g pilchards in tomato sauce
Zest and juice of one lemon
Half a bunch parsley, chopped
1 medium sized onion, chopped
Green or red chilli, chopped (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
oil for frying
Lemon wedges, to serve
Boil the potatoes until soft. When still warm roughly mash with a fork in a large bowl. Drain the tinned pilchards and mix into the potato, along with the lemon zest and juice, parsley, onion, eggs, flour and chilli if using and stir until well combined. Form the mixture into either large fishcakes or small croquettes. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry for 3-4 mins on either side until golden. Using a slotted spoon transfer the fishcakes onto kitchen paper to drain. Serve hot or cold with lemon wedges on the side.
CABBAGE & MINCE BAKE (Serves 6)
2 tbs oil
500g lean beef mince
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves ,crushed
1 tsp mixed herbs
½ tsp paprika
Chopped chilli (optional)
2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
1 medium green cabbage, roughly diced
1½ cups grated cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200°C and butter a 20 X 25cms ovenproof baking dish. In a large frying pan or pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mince and onion and cook until the beef is browned, about 5-10 minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.
Add the garlic, chilli if using, herbs, spices and salt and pepper and cook for three minutes while stirring continuously. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 20 minutes. Add the chopped cabbage. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the cabbage is tender, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir in one cup of the grated cheese. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake uncovered until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is browned, 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with M-Net, Mzansi Magic and Sun International.