By Paul Soile, Hon. Secretary Council of African and Caribbean Churches UK
The last 12 months were filled with fear, confusion and great unpredictability. The greatest lesson I learned living through the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, was the importance of taking control of my health.
I am a proud family man, who is depended upon by my church members and extended family overseas. I want to remain healthy in 2021 and beyond, for my wife, my children, my grandchildren, and for everybody else that needs me.
Food is a huge part of West African culture, and it’s often used to connect with others to show love and affection. And it’s really not uncommon to have mountains of delicious food on your plate at meal times.
The Better Health NHS Weight Loss Plan has really helped me to make healthier food choices. These small changes still make our traditional food taste great, and I’ve started to feel better knowing I’m doing something positive for my future health. I’ve realised it’s never too late to make a positive change, to live a more healthy life.
Making the decision to reduce weight has been easier than I would have thought, and there is so much support out there like the Better Health website which gives clear and practical advice on the simple changes you can make to living a healthier lifestyle.
As a pastor, I used to get much of my exercise dancing at church. Since I've stopped going due to the lockdown, I haven’t felt as active. I enjoy walking, so I've started to use the free Better Health app Active 10, as I'm keen to add some regular exercises to my weekly routine.
We have a real opportunity to make a change in how we live our lives, and take better care of our health. I encourage members of the Black community to take that first step and visit nhs.uk/betterhealth today.
Senior Dietitian Shola Oladipo says: Being overweight or obese puts you at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and COVID-19. By making small, simple changes, you could help cut that risk.
The Better Health website is full of free tips, apps and tools to help people manage their weight loss, through eating healthier and getting active.
Following Better Health’s healthy eating tips and programmes doesn’t mean we have to compromise our African culture, or stop enjoying our favourite traditional meals. Instead, it offers simple advice on how you can swap ingredients or adapt the way you cook your meals.
For example, if you’re preparing Jollof rice instead of cooking it with white rice, why not try brown rice. If you are cooking plantain or yam, trying baking or roasting them instead of frying, and when preparing stews, cut back on the amount of oil we use to prepare it.
To learn more about the Better Health campaign, visit https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/