Published on Latino American Today, August, 2014 -by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard. “Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments.” – Bethenny Frankel -The word diet can signal self-denial, discipline, commitment, eat right, eat less, eat healthy, and more to some people. We learn eating habits early on from our family or caretakers. Our parents or caretakers provide the setting for the eating habits we will have throughout our lives. If the habits are good, we will be in a good situation. If they are not, we could encounter a chain reaction of events that culminate in chronic diseases related to a poor diet and inactivity, excess weight and obesity.
Life is about choices and as adults we are the only ones responsible for ours and our family’s choices and wellbeing. Passing good habits usually translates into making good choices so informed little minds can make educated decisions. Making small changes to curb unwanted behaviors is not easy, but one can start with baby steps and progress onto bigger steps. Easier said than done? Maybe, but if we care about our health and the one of our loved ones, we will make the effort to do the right thing.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is a gradual and steady process that could start with self-analysis of eating and activity habits. Long ago, with help, I created a food and exercise diary where I tracked inputs and outputs. I recorded calories burned through exercising and calories consumed through what I ate for about 40 days –this is the amount of time needed to change a behavior. The initial process was in my mind, painful, as I had to keep track of food that I normally ate daily while making a conscious effort to choose the foods wisely for nutrition and total calories. I was hungry often because I had not yet learned how to satiate my hunger properly. While I did not have a poor diet to begin with, I re-learned how to eat mindfully. If left unchecked, the weight that I was putting on slowly and gradually yearly as I was aging, could have reached a point of a more difficult return to a healthy weight.
As a chef I have become even more aware of healthy eating and use healthy cooking techniques often to create nutritious delicious meals without sacrificing texture and flavor. I strive to use more wholesome and unprocessed foods (foods in their natural state), which can help us keep our healthy lifestyle and weight in check and our mind healthy too if we exercise regularly (3-5 times a week). A few simple choices can lead us in the right direction, such as cooking with olive and canola oils, and choosing healthy proteins like fish and lean proteins as pork loin or chicken without the skin and visible fat. In addition, it can help choosing fresh dark green leafy foods such as kale and spinach and increasing and varying consumption of fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, and choosing vinegars and lime or lemon juice to dress salads instead of heavy dressings based on cream or mayonnaise.
Cheers to your new lifestyle!