Healthy Eating Sessions for Sanctuary Seekers

Back in October 2021, Hannah Sabatia started some educational sessions for sanctuary seekers called ‘Tips to Healthy Eating with Hannah’. Hannah has shared her experiences and findings in this blog. She says “There is a great need for people to be reminded that eating healthy is part and parcel of their health and well-being journey. There are so many illnesses we can prevent by a change of lifestyle and awareness of what we are eating. For example the complications of diabetes and obesity.”

Healthy eating is a beautiful approach to life, and we have seen the need to revisit this long talked about topic especially after lockdown experiences.  But it can be a challenge if we are unable to define what it means in practice considering we all look at food differently based on our cultural heritage and experiences.

When I was growing up in Africa, a mixture of maize and beans, ‘Githeri’, yam, cassava and ugali, formed a big part of my main meals. I can still feel the taste of it in my mouth today but at the time, because I didn’t understand what I know now, I never used to like it.

We were all slim to the bones. The same diet here if applied, especially for someone whose job involves sitting on a comfy office chair with a computer all day, could create a health hazard.

So what I’m I advocating here? Eating anything without using up what we eat in the form of energy can create a pile-up in our body that we do not really need. So if we are not in a position to utilise more than we eat in the form of activity and exercise, then it is better to reduce the amount of food on our plates.

In my recent healthy eating sessions, which are part of making sure key health messages get out to our community members, I have noticed that some people forget to think about what food they eat. This can be as a result of a number of factors and it is understandable. But it is not doing us any good. It was great to see people desire to make those small changes like increasing fruit and vegetable portions in their daily diet and reducing fat and cakes from the daily diet as well. One participant in the session showed us a plate of his lunch before the session and at the end, he said he now realises what was missing on that plate. This was great to hear.

The rate of obesity, hypertension and type 2 diabetes are going up, yet these are conditions that can be helped through what we eat. There are many resources that can help guide us in the right direction even when the food we ate growing up is different from what we have around us in our new habitat and environment.  One of these resources being shared for free is the NHS Eatwell guide.

So next time you meet me in St. Helen’s in Swansea, I’m searching for some foods that are close to what I have learnt to be healthy.


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