Nshima Diet Maintains Slim Bodies

Little Known Solution to Overcoming Obesity


Obesity or being overweight is a serious problem in the Western world, particularly in America. Because of globalization, the incidence of obesity, awareness and sensitivity about it may be spreading to the small populations of newly affluent or middle class urban dwellers in otherwise laregly poor Third World countries.  The large majority of the people who are perpetually hungry are barely able to find food to eat in the Third World. They may be wondering why it is such a bad thing to have plenty to eat and become fat which many of the people in these societies call being overweight and may regard it positively. 

Being overweight or obese is an obvious visible condition that creates enormous physical and emotional problems for the individual who has the condition. The individual may be very self-conscious about how he or she looks and may experience physical discomfort when they walk. Even if they feel healthy, the person may be unable to find and wear normal size attractive clothes, may have difficulty in participating in many social activities including athletics, work, dancing and dating. This article will briefly discuss obesity and propose the Zambian nshima Neolithic diet as a never before considered possible solution to solving the problem of obesity or being overweight.

Factors and Impact of Obesity

Obesity is associated with heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, gallbladder disease and gallstones, osteoarthritis, gout, breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for a short episodes during sleep) and asthma.

Some of the immediate problems for childhood obesity include diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and poor academic performance. These are some of the immediate, short and long-term problems associated with obesity.

Some of the factors that contribute to obesity or being overweight include age, gender, genetics, environmental factors, physical activity, psychological factors, illness, and medication.

The numbers for the rising rate of obesity are alarming. Between 1980 and 2000 in American society, obesity rates doubled to 60 million or 30% among adults in the total population of 312 million people. Since 1980 overweight rates have doubled among children and tripled among adolescents. This has increased the number of years American children are exposed to the health risks of obesity. What are the accepted solutions and the possible new proposed solution to obesity?

The Nshima Diet New Solution

The first thing to be conscious of in order to not just to know but to fully appreciate the Nshima diet as a possible solution to obesity is to understand how the power of  the word “primitive” may influence our negative attitudes. You might be wondering why the word primitive is related to the proposed nshima diet as a possible lasting solution to obesity. The word primitive means “crude, simple, rough, ancient, existing in the beginning or earliest times or ages, uncivilized”.  

Since Western society evolved through the dark ages between the 6th and 13th centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Enlightenment period from 160 to 1700, to the Industrial Revolution from 1700 to 1905, there has been tremendous technological and social change. This revolutionary change was in science, medicine, technology, humanities, social sciences and the arts. As Western Europeans civilization made advances and explored the world, they encountered other peoples. European colonialism, racism and cultural domination, created the tendency to dismiss the different pre-industrial and less industrialized peoples as primitive. Because of this long history of 300 years of dismissing other different cultures and peoples as primitive, this has created unnecessary resistance and antipathy between what other cultures might be doing to solve problems and the willingness of the West to consider seriously the adoption of those non-Western possible solutions. This attitude creates a perpetual block in the minds of people in the West and those who have adopted the Eurocentric perspective elsewhere in the world which is a large number of people.

The Zambian nshima meal diet which 13 million people eat twice per day might be such a solution to the obesity problem. But if you think the diet is from “Africa” or "tribal" and therefore primitive, you may never give it a serious thought in how it might provide a permanent solution to the obesity problem.

The traditional main stream solutions to overcoming obesity include reducing how many calories of food one eats per day including some exercise. It is common knowledge that most people who try many different diets, return to their original poor habits and gain the weight back and add even more. How is it that 13 million Zambian people in the country of Zambia can eat whatever they want every day and the vast majority of men, women, and children don't gain any weight let alone become obese? Does the nshima diet have such magic that when they eat it, the food simply burns away all the calories accumulating no fat in the body? This may be the likely answer.

Nshima is the staple food for 13 million Zambians in a country the size of Texas or France in Southern Africa. Nshima is the staple food eaten not only by Zambians but Malawians and many other African neighbors of an estimated number of 18 million. It is a food cooked from plain maize or corn meal or maize flour known as mealie-meal among Zambians

 It is eaten at least twice per day; for lunch and dinner. Another second dish, known as ndiwo, umunani, dende or relish, must always accompany nshima without exception.  The relish is always a deliciously cooked vegetable, meat, fish, beans, legumes or poultry dish. By comparison to other cultures, Zambian cuisine tends to be bland and hardly uses any hot spices at all. However, they use other traditional ingredients such as chidulo, peanuts powder, and some spices that give Zambian indigenous foods that distinctive unique taste and flavor.

How Does Nshima diet maintain 13 million slim bodies?

The crucial factor is that in spite the nshima being a plain rather large serving or quantity of high calorie carbohydrate Zambians eat during each meal twice a day, the second matching dish which is the ndiyo or relish which may be a vegetable or protein dish is always served in very small quantities or proportions. A few examples of the precise ratios are that in every serving of the nshima in a Zambian home and restaurant, when ½ Kg. or 1 lb. or 16 oz. of the nshima dish is served the accompanying serving of  ndiyo or relish  of cooked red kidney beans is 150 gms. or 5.2 oz. This is a ratio of 3.3:1. When ½ Kg. or 1 lb. or 16 oz. of nshima will be served with ndiyo or relish of chicken of 100 gms. or 3.5 oz. which is a ratio of 5:1. This means that for every 5 servings of nshima carbohydrate there is only 1 of protein or vegetables.

This ratio has been maintained and transmitted within communities from mothers to daughters among the 72 tribes in the African society of Zambia for as long as anyone can remember perhaps over hundreds of years. What is amazing is that the girls, women, mothers, and grandmothers never have any physical scales in the kitchens to weight the food. It seems to be a strong mentally internalized cultural practice and custom which may happen to have great advantages in preventing obesity and maintaining slim bodies. The rural people, the poor, middle class, upper class, and restauraneurs all serve the nshima meal with these same ratios every time for all meals without exception.

Once a Zambian has eaten this meal at lunch, the individual feels full and satiated for hours. They may be able to walk, work in the office or do physical work in the fields, ride a bicycle long distances, and children can play outside vigorously for hours without feeling hungry. Between lunch and dinner, they may eat a small snack like a banana, a couple of French fries or potato chips, drink a cup of tea or some soda, or eat a candy bar. The nshima meal itself may burn even more calories in the body just during the process of digestion.

Could this be the magic formula and especially the carbohydrate and protein ratio for conquering obesity? It could be. Leading experts in obesity and the evolution of the Western diet will sometimes advocate the Paleolithic or Paleo Diet or Caveman diet. This is the diet of our hunter and gatherer ancestors 15,000 years ago of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables. During that period in history, heart disease, diabetes, being overweight, obesity, and hypertension which are diseases of the modern life style did not exist.  

The Neolithic diet of 10,000 years ago of cultivated wheat, barley, corn, millet, rice and other grains and meat from livestock such as goats, sheep, and cows may together with food processing technology have driven us closer to the current diet which is hugely responsible for obesity and being overweight. But if you have the belief that the discussed nshima is a primitive diet or what sometimes may be called the descendent of the African Neolithic diet from 10,000 years ago, you may not think this is likely to be a possible solution for obesity or being overweight. The only possible obstacle to adopting this Zambian Nshima diet for combating obesity to day may be the attitude that it is a primitive and Third World diet. The typical affluent urbanized modern Western individual might be thinking, even though I might be overweight or want to prevent obesity, “who wants to eat all that heavy starch with little protein?” Isn’t this the diet of the poor? What I have also observed is that one of the best known of the many popular weight control or dieting programs in America may be using very identical ratios of carbohydrate to protein for meals as the Zambian nshima meal African Neolithic diet.