ChewsWise Blog

ChewsWise Blog

Kenya Diet: Leave U.S., Stop Stressing, Eat Veggies, Lose 100 pounds

The WaPo had an interesting item yesterday about an African immigrant leaving the U.S. and going home because of the recession. But the thing that caught my eye was that James Odhiambo weighed 300 pounds when he was living in Dallas, and then lost 100 pounds after he went home. His wife went down four dress sizes. And it didn't seem like they were dieting. They just began living in a different country.

He wanted a healthier lifestyle for his family, less anxiety, fewer 14-hour days. So he recently traded his deluxe apartment, the pickup truck, the dishwasher and $4.99 McDonald's combos for life in a place he considers relatively better: sub-Saharan Africa.

"Right now I'm no stress, no anxiety," said Odhiambo, 34, relaxing in his family home in this western Kenyan city along the shores of Lake Victoria. "Think of it this way: When I was in the U.S., I was close to 300 pounds. Now, I'm like 200. The biggest thing for me was quality of life."

Why? No more fast food. His wife started buying veggies.

Instead of shopping for groceries at Wal-Mart, Odhiambo's wife heads to the local market and bargains for fresh tomatoes, onions and the Kenyan equivalent of collard greens, sukuma wiki. She has dropped four dress sizes.

Which is curious, considering this recent study highlighted by Marion Nestle that wealthier people eat better. That may be true, but what people buy is also influenced by availability, culture and geography. The Kenya couple, with their two kids, now live on about $5 a day.

But, okay, maybe you don't want to move to Kenya. Well Jane Black of WaPo reports on another encouraging development: doubling the value of food coupons at farmers' markets under a program developed by Wholesome Wave Foundation.

"The idea of doubling your money really resonates," said Daniel Ross, executive director of Nuestras Raices, a grass-roots community development group that helped administer the Holyoke matching program. "We've found in all our research that low-income people know what healthy food is, but because of price, they can't afford it. This helps them get the food they really want for their families."