War on fat and flab

2013-09-08 14:00

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Fit and flourishing in Jozi

Kirsty Galliard says her family is not the typical South African clan for whom large, oily dinners and platefuls of starchy foods are the norm.

“That’s because my husband is a health Nazi,” she says of Adrian Galliard, a wellness consultant who owns his own gym.

Instead, their menu features chicken, some fish, “the odd” lean steak, quite a few stir-fries and salads, and “lots of fruit and veggies”. There’s very little fat.

“I generally don’t fry anything. If I do, it’s a teaspoon of oil in a nonstick pan and I only use olive oil. We have no deep-fried food.”

Kirsty and Adrian’s two children, Emma (4) and Christopher (5) also follow healthy diets. Their lunchboxes feature carrot and cucumber sticks, low-GI brown breads that keep them fuller for longer, peanut butter or cheese, fruits, nuts and occasionally some biltong.

There’s no juice, only water.

“I never buy white bread – ever,” she says.

From left: Emma Galliard, her mom Kirsty, brother Christopher and dad Adrian at their home in Greenside, north of Joburg. Picture: Muntu Vilakazi/City Press

“My children have never had McDonalds. My son went with a friend whose mother bought them a burger and he had two or three bites to be polite, but left the rest when she wasn’t looking.”

Exercise is something the family takes very seriously.

Kirsty and Adrian ride their mountain bikes twice a week.

Adrian also plays touch rugby and trains daily at his gym.

Christopher plays golf, judo, tennis and rides his bike in the park on weekends, and Emma does ballet.

Both children “spend hours” each day on their trampoline at home.

Neither Adrian nor Kirsty smoke, and Adrian drinks alcohol very occasionally – “one beer every three months or so”, he says.

Kirsty has two or three glasses of wine on weekends, “but only when I have someone to finish the bottle with”, she says.

Maganyane says: “The Galliards are leading a healthy lifestyle. Their menu is in line with the SA Food Based Dietary Guidelines, which encourage the consumption of plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drinking lots of water.

“This family also understands that the preparation method of the foods eaten also plays a role as they barely fry their food.”

Chops chutney with rice in Durbs

Five-year-old Misbah Nair is a 100% chicken boy.

It’s all he wants to eat, except fish occasionally.

Rohaida (41), Misbah’s mom and a teacher in Durban North, is happy to accommodate the football-mad youngster, so there’s a separate casserole dish of roasted masala chicken alongside the magnificent dish of lamb chops chutney with rice and green salad she serves when City Press comes to dinner.

It’s a departure from their typical Thursday night menu.

“Thursday night is usually fish night,” says Rohaida. “(Husband) Naveen got lucky because you guys were coming over,” she adds.

They say they generally try to eat healthily, balancing traditional Durban Indian dishes – the lamb chops mainly – with the need to reduce salt, oil and ghee (clarified butter).

On Mondays, the Nairs go meat- free with beans, lentils and dahl. On Tuesdays it’s mince as a pasta sauce or a cottage pie. Wednesday – Misbah’s favourite – is chicken day.

“We’re Muslim so Friday is a big day. There’s always something special to eat, a dahlgosh (mutton curry), pilau (rice dish) or we have takeout.

We normally go for Nando’s, sushi or a bunny chow,” says Rohaida.

From left: Naveen Nair, his wife Rohaida and children Iman, Misbah and Aaliyah at their family home in Sunningdale, Durban. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/City Press

Naveen (43), a sales manager for a protective clothing company, runs the kitchen on Saturdays.

“I like to cook things like fresh chicken with yellow rice, or fresh fish, or have a braai. We like eating good food, which is often unhealthy, so there’s a need to balance. We try to use olive oil instead of sunflower oil, and grill instead of fry,” he says.

They have cut out processed foods completely, while there is a weekday fizzy drink ban and rice crackers instead of crisps.

Sundays is a cooked breakfast and a curry for lunch. On most days, breakfast is cereal, while lunchboxes contain mainly sandwiches and leftovers from the day before.

“Salt is an issue,” says Naveen. “There’s salt everywhere.”

Rohaida, who attends a weekly yoga class and walks regularly on Umhlanga Boulevard, says they have little time for exercise.

Neither are they gym fans.

Naveen’s main exercise is playing goalkeeper at a social league level.

“My daughters are on my case to at least walk. I’m lazy,” he grins. Naveen quit smoking six months ago and nobody in the family drinks alcohol.

Aaliyah (12) plays netball but is more into books than sport. Little sister Iman (7) plays netball and hockey.

There’s no family history of heart disease or diabetes and Rohaida aims to keep it that way, saying the biggest no-no is cholesterol-laden ghee.

“I only use it if I make biryani at Eid or when I’m braising dahl. Otherwise, it’s off the menu.”

Maganyane says: “Striking a balance between eating healthy and traditional foods seems to be a challenge for this family. The use of salt and fats should be minimised and used sparingly.

“Their menu seems to include all the three major food groups, but the youngster’s 100% chicken diet leaves him vulnerable and at risk of being iron deficient. Misbah needs to consume other foods that are high in iron. It is good to note that this family also consumes legumes regularly.”

Pap for dinner in Msogwaba

Collen Mhlanga makes a living selling packets of cheese snacks in Msogwaba, 35km outside Nelspruit.

The 33-year-old is the breadwinner in the family, and lives with his two sisters’ children aged 23, 21, 10 and 5, and his own three-year-old son.

Putting food on the table is a daily struggle. Breakfast for the Mhlangas always includes tea and bread, which they eat with either tomato gravy, eggs or avocados.

The adults don’t eat lunch because they cannot afford to. The children eat bread with butter and juice, or pure water with sugar.

Dinner is mostly pap with spinach or any other vegetable they can afford. Sometimes they have their pap with chicken.

Red meat, Mhlanga says, is too expensive.

Collen Mhlanga’s niece, Thabisile (right), serves the family a dinner of pap and spinach in Msogwaba, near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga

According to Mhlanga, they cannot live without pap because it is filling, and they are so used to it they “would be sick” if they stopped eating it.

“Very occasionally we buy chips and a soft drink at the cafe. We eat what we can afford. The oil or salt in the chips is not something we pay attention to and we’re not aware of any problems,” Mhlanga said.

“We put spices or Knorrox cubes in the chicken for flavour, and because these are things we don’t always have, we tend to overindulge.”

Mhlanga, who is a smoker, said he suffers from a chronic disease and a doctor told him to eat more fruit and vegetables.

They don’t do any formal exercise, but always walk to where they need to go because they don’t own a car.

Maganyane says: “Over 45% of South African households are food insecure.

The family grows their own food, which should be encouraged in addressing this situation.

“Mr Mhlanga also has a chronic illness that requires him to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, which he can get from his own garden. The use of salt should also be cautioned.

“The family could add beans, soya and other legumes as a protein – these are also affordable.”

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