The Dietitian: Interview with Babatunde Deborah

Babatunde Deborah is a dietitian working as a consultant to various individuals and private health institutions. She is a native of Oyo state in Nigeria and a  graduate of Family Nutrition and Consumer Sciences from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. In this interview with the Health Facts team, she talks about  proper dieting  as it applies to Nigerians.

How long have you been working as a Nutritionist?

Roughly, for about 3-4 years. While in School, I  had my Industrial training with various NGOs.

Why did you choose to be a Dietitian in a country like Nigeria?

I never really chose to be a dietitian; I actually wanted to be a doctor like most of the science students around. But it was quite interesting how I later developed interest in the course. Here I am, a dietician.

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Looking at the diet of an average Nigerian,  more carbohydrate is consumed, how can we maintain a proper food diet with the locally available food options?

This is a source of concern for most people. Proper meal planning is essential as feeding is delicate. One needs to know what is in one’s food, and some search the internet for this information.

Professional advice on managing food options may also be also necessary.

Increase the protein and fiber content of foods you consume . For example you could substitute eba for wheat.

Major challenges as a Dietitian?

Food options in the region are limited.

Ignorance – People not knowing what to eat and the health implications of their feeding habits. Lots of people even feed in traffic – it is not just feeding your stomach, it is putting the right thing in it.

Most people don’t plan their food.

Poverty – this further reduces food options.

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How healthy is it to place oneself to lose weight?

Dieting is not bad, the bad thing is starving yourself in the name of dieting.

I advise you have a plan to help you achieve your aim. You need to work on the amount of healthy calories you need. Adequate diet matters, what is necessary for you at that time

See a professional, one who can help you decide what to eat and how to eat it.

Advice on late meals especially at night?

Firstly, it will make you add weight

Secondly, your digestion process is disturbed cause your metabolic rate reduces.

You won’t be able to sleep well. Plan your meal in such a way that the most active part of your day, you eat healthy.

Eat foods that digest easily, like fruits, foods rich in fiber and lots of water.

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What time is late?

Anything beyond 8pm is late.

If you feel like eating something a bit heavy, try to be active during this period.

What is the role of canned food in Nigeria?

It is fast, cheap, easy but it has its own disadvantages. It is processed due to the fact that they are trying the keep foods preserved.

I do not recommend canned foods. Take your foods fresh.

Canned foods have been associated with cancers and other diseases.

How do you advice people with low earning to maintain a balanced diet?

It is true that money has an important part to play in maintaining good nutrition, however there are affordable and healthy alternatives.

Eating right needs proper planning. Dedicating a certain amount of money for proper feeding. You could also improvise. Be creative. It does not have to be the expensive meals, substitute one costly meal for a cheaper but highly nutritious one.

Eat fruits that are in season.

How do we meet up with proper dieting while dealing with stress?

Eat more healthy calories.

How do you deal with a bloated tummy?

Exercise properly, get an exercise plan.

Eat foods rich in fiber. Oats and yogurt for example and also, take more water.