CELEBRATING ATLANTIS – Our 10th Community Health Intervention
By Masoodha Kajee, Eat Better & Affiliate Exec
On 15th July 2017, a blistering cold and wet Saturday afternoon, I watched with pride and awe as The Rebecca van Amsterdam Saal in Atlantis transformed from an otherwise cold, echoing gym hall into a space lit up with excitement, pride, joy and accomplishment, as the room filled up with individuals who, over the last 7 weeks, have become so dear to my heart.
A marked difference from that of the 3rd of June 2017, when the Eat Better South Africa team waltzed in, high sugar high carb grocery products in hand, ready to educate the community about the hidden sugars that are found in seemingly innocent household foods. I began my sugar demonstration where I show how many teaspoons of sugar we are unknowingly eating in a typical day represented by teaspoons of sugar in a clear glass. I stood, holding up the glass filled with 25 or so teaspoons of sugar, facing a room full of people glaring back at me in disbelief.
Amidst the gasps of shock and horror, and looks of “my whole life has been a lie!!’ was also the untrusting eye brow raised glances of “Wait, what?? Butter and healthy?… in the same sentence?”. I felt as though the sugar demo had created enough of an awareness for people to want to take healthy action to reduce the amount of sugar and carbs they ate. Although, I secretly worried that advocating LCHF to this group might not be well received, especially considering the community’s heavy reliance on bread and potatoes as food staples.
But come 10 June 2017, and there they were, right back, ready for more. This small community was eager for change, they were ready to right the dietary wrongs of the past and take the necessary steps to make healthy positive changes and be part of this dietary revolution.
And so, week after week, they sacrificed their Saturday afternoons, determined to see those numbers drop – weight, centimetres, BP, blood sugar. We would spend the next 1.5 to 2 hours discussing the hows, the why’s, the how to’s, and the challenges of LCHF. And soon it became their own, with each one narrating experiences of how they dodged their weekend hot chip, potato crisp or chocolate temptation. I soon realised just how challenging this had to be for them. For a lot of the group members, they didn’t and still don’t have the support of their family members.
A lot of the time they are faced with ridicule and scorned upon for their LCHF food choices by those who aren’t yet aware of the harsh reality of the lies we’ve been fed for years. These weekly group sessions became a LCHF ‘lifeline’. A place where they could unashamedly gloat about how they gave up a craving by sipping on soda water instead or how they proudly remained full for hours after a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon and avo. It became a place to discuss their short comings for the week and spur each other on, on the progress they each had made, even if it was just a centimetre lost.
It became family! And come 15 July, we had to celebrate. Yes, we were celebrating kg’s and cm’s lost, blood pressure and blood sugar readings being drastically reduced, but more than that, we were celebrating freedom, we were celebrating change, we were celebrating courage and more so, the opportunity to live a life of purpose. Each one of them had become a leader and a role model for themselves and for the rest of their community!
And so this community of Atlantis locks arms with us in our pursuit to follow in the giant footsteps of the remarkable individual who has made this all possible. Prof Tim Noakes, we salute you! With gratitude and earnestness, we carry your revolutionary LCHF flag high as we remain marching forward, united by truth and a passion for dietary change!