Before 2005 or so, Hispanics were a slim people. In fact, there was a big guy in town and everybody knew him. The car was customized and it made him a very popular guy. It reminds me the days when I was growing up and we never heard of a crime. The day there was a crime, it was big news and everybody bought the newspaper that day! Well, no more… Now days we have gotten used to be also an overweight population. But, what has happened? What’s different now?
For starters, we ate natural. Our meals were fruits, vegetables, chicken and lots of fish. Back then, fish used to be the cheap meat, the one the poor ate. That’s not the case anymore. It was very common to see some source of fruit and vegetable trees in the back yard with some chickens around.
In the past, a regular diet used to be something like this:
Children would have a cup of coffee (3/4 milk x 1/4 coffee)
Fresh squeezed orange juice
1 boiled egg
1 slice of white cheese
Sausage (once a week or so)
Some left over meat from the day before
(A choice of)
Green plantain with cheese (patacón) at the time this was also made at breakfast, instead of bread
Bocadillo (a sweet guava snack)
Empanada (could also be a breakfast or dinner on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night)
Mango with salt
Nuts in their shell (pealing them was the fun part)
Cookies, chocolate, sweet stuff.
Some source of fruits like “corozo” and “mamón” typical from the area.
Soup and rice… always both
“A respectable soup always has cilantro” we used to say.
All kind of soups, from vegetable to creams, but always natural creams.
Beans on top of the rice or the rice made with bean. All kind of beans.
A meat (chicken, fish of beef)
Same as lunch but usually without soup.
The whole diet, for the ones who could afford it, has a combination of the recommended meals during the day. The ones that did not have the means for meats replaced it with beans, vegetables and fruits from their own back yard.
Best of all, we were a very active population. Always playing with friends, neighbors and siblings. We also took turns to grind corn and to ground the beef.
We never counted calories. At the grocery store food was natural. Never any extra vitamins added. The butter in many cases was even homemade as well as the yogurt. I remember those days. Parents had the time to make this extra effort. Many mothers were stay at home moms. Sure, chores at home were and still are lot easier in Hispanic countries. We don’t need to be rich to have a maid helping at home. 6 or 7 days a week! Believe me… that’s a tremendous advantage. But let’s see what we can learn from it.
- Natural is better.
- Eat a portion of each category each day.
- Do not eat the same thing every day. Just as we need “muscle confusion” to achieve fitness, we also need different vegetables, beans, meats, fruits and grains to provide the body with the enzymes needed to metabolize food.
- As we age, we need fewer amounts, so we need to reduce the portions. We don’t need the same at 15, 30, 50, or 90. We don’t need to consume only water at 90 either, but we don’t need to eat what we cannot burn. We always need to keep in mind the activities we do, the fuel they need to keep us going on and how much energy we burn during the day.
- Before we eat, we need to stop as ask our self:
- What did I have for breakfast? Did I ingest meals with too many carbohydrates? Proteins? Fats? Cholesterol? Sugar? Sodium? What?
- Respond to your question:
- If I ate too much carbs and sweets for breakfast; then, I need compensate with vegetables and proteins for lunch and another small portion of carb and protein for dinner. The carb will help with hunger. We need carbs. Good carbs.
- If I ate too much cholesterol and fats during breakfast; then, I need to compensate with some vegetables, fruits, soups, beans, etc.
- If I ate too much sodium; then I need lots of liquids to flush it out.
- If I’m going to a BBQ on Saturday and I plan on eating everything; then, I prepare my body during the week with few proteins, carbs and sweets and the day after the big day, I do the same… I compensate.
- If I’m going to eat out, I also prepare myself to order what my body still needs for that day.
- If I’m going to do groceries; then, I stop and think of something I didn’t eat the week before. Different vegetables, different fish, etc.
- Getting use to having a hot milk or hot tea with 1/2 toast with almond butter before sleep helps to not get hungry and stabilize the sugar in the body. Even a couple spoons of yogurt are great before bed time.
- Add to the water you drink ‘something.’ The “Chinese” cucumber water is great. Chop it and boil it for about 3 minutes in a cup of water. Pour this strong flavored water into a jar and fill it with fresh water. It’s great for about everything: from replenishing the body with mineral, to stabilization of blood pressure, reducing cancer and kidney problems, to helping with diabetes and even weight loss.
The same is true for the parsley water and the eggplant water. It’s another way to eat what you don’t like and replenish your body with minerals. Remember, the kidneys tend to fail as we age. We need to take care of them. They are the filter of the body.
In summary… If we use some common sense when it comes to eating, it would help us to have better weight and health.