To bant or not to bant?

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa points out that the fats promoted in Noakes’s popular The Real Meal Revolution cookbook are mostly "bad fats" like saturated animal fats like lard and butter.
The last supper: As fun and challenging as banting on a budget has been, our rural doctor blogger can’t decide whether Tim Noakes’ diet is a keeper.

I have reached the end of my two-week budget banting challenge.

My “last supper” was a spectacular meal: chicken with zucchini two ways! I cooked my last piece of chicken in the oven with a bit of butter and a lot of chilli. I served the chicken with a bowl of courgette tzatziki and a side serving of cooked zucchini slices.


Formally, this is the end of my two-week budget banting challenge. I have found that limiting my ingredients fueled my creativity, and I want to continue experimenting with new ways of preparing food on a limited budget.

I am still looking to find someone from my community who might be willing to try a few of the meal plans I have worked on.

Until then, I will continue to limit my weekly shopping basket to about R150, but contrary to the last fortnight, I will no longer be holding back at dinner parties or family lunches.

I have also really missed being able to entertain, so from time to time I will be spending a little more in order to share some of my meals with others. As fun and challenging as this has been, becoming a social outcast because of some odd eating habits is not high-up on my agenda.

Two is always better than one, and I look forward to being able to say, out loud, “Could you pass the butter please?”

To bant or not to bant?

[quote float=”right”]”For many of my patients, putting food on the table is an everyday struggle. Criticising their food choices is probably not going to be helpful.”

To bant or not to bant? That is the question.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t have the answer. For now, I’m going to carry on focussing on making healthy, low-cost meals for myself, and advise my patients to branch out of the sea of starch and try some of these alternatives.

Next time I hear “pap is all I can afford,” I will be able to provide a convincing argument that actually it is not – in truth there are many other options, and they don’t all cost an arm and a leg.

Things I have gained from this challenge:

  • Creativity. Regardless of diet choice, surviving on R150 a week is difficult, and requires careful planning and a lot of innovation;
  • Consciousness about wastage. We waste so much food. I used to throw out food that had past its sell-by date or was not looking quite as fresh as when I bought it.  Now I am reusing tea bags and keeping aside potato peels for meals and snacks;
  • Knowledge. I have learnt a great deal about nutrition over the last few weeks. I don’t have all the answers yet, but am committed to continue learning and exploring;
  • Perspective. Limiting your budget can change how you think. I have gained a much more tangible understanding of one of the many challenges that people in my community are faced with;
  • Humility. I did this out of choice. For many of my patients, putting food on the table  is an everyday struggle. Criticising their food choices is probably not going to be helpful. Educating people to make healthier food choices is empowering, but only if it can come from a place of deep understanding and respect;
  • Wisdom. With enough butter, anything tastes good;
  • Drive. As a global community, we need to invest more money into research on human nutrition. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions and we need good solid science to support nation-wide public health policies. It is our duty to drive the changes we want to see in the world.

Things I have lost:

  • 1.7 kgs;
  • Cravings for sugary things. At first I missed the odd sweet or chocolate, but now, I hardly think about;
  • The post-prandial coma phenomenon. I no longer feel a dip in energy after meals;
  • I also lost out on a few really incredible family meals over the last two weekends, but there will be plenty of opportunities to make up for it.

Starting a new week, I decided to treat myself to some new ingredients. I had been craving fresh things, so added some lettuce and green peppers to my basket, and also stuck to meats that I know and trust.

I will revisit offal one day, but not today.

Here’s how I filled my basket this week:

  • Four fresh chicken thighs R35.60
  • Streaky bacon R23.99
  • Large eggs 18 R23.99
  • Bringal R9.99
  • Green pepper R4.35
  • Lettuce R8.99
  • Cauliflower R14.99
  • Chilli R0.35
  • Onions R3.30
  • Milk R9.99
  • Fresh cream 250ml, fresh R10.99
  • Tinned tomato: R7.99

Total: R155.50



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One comment

  1. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed this blog – in so many ways; the creative meal planning, the humour, the insights. And the reminder of how many people are out there trying to feed whole families on R150. I barely get away with spending R150 every time I pop into the shops on the way home from work and that is over and above my weekly food shop. I am reminded to be grateful for what I have
    I will miss this blog. Looking forward to the next one….

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