Without a doubt, the cards were stacked against me growing up. My mother and grandmother were morbidly obese, other relatives were overweight, and our eating environment was not what I would call healthy. Meals mostly revolved around white bread with margarine, jelly sandwiches on white bread, bologna sandwiches with mayo on white bread, hotdogs and hamburgers on white bread, cookies and ice cream. There was the occasional canned fruit cocktail and canned corn, but other than that vegetables and fruit were rarities. Drinking water was never encouraged and it didn’t occur to me that I needed it. I’m quite certain I was chronically dehydrated as a kid. Without a doubt, my horrible eating habits were the cause of my skin issues, lack of energy, depressed mood, and growing waste line.
Both my genetics and environment pointed me in the direction of obesity and yet somehow I managed to escape it; call it luck, fate, or a strong determination. I was fortunate to have a good high school biology teacher and I loved the subject. That’s when I first realized that food mattered, and the digestive system fascinated me. It was during the eleventh grade that I decided to go to college and become a doctor which eventually evolved into a nutritionist. Food and nutrition continue to be my passion to this day. I now know that food can be either our medicine or our poison.
Over time, I learned more about food and nutrition, and developed the healthy eating habits that I have today. As a mother, I was so strongly committed to passing on those habits to my children who are both young men now. I’m proud to say they are both healthy eaters. And me, I’ve been able to “turn off” my inherited obesity genes by making healthy eating a priority in my life. I’m leaving the family legacy of obesity behind me.
THE EVERYDAY NON-NEGOTIABLES THAT HELP ME MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
I eat three balanced meals a day rather than randomly snacking whenever. If I’m hungry between meals, I will eat something but I make it count. It’s got to be packed with nutrients.
I plan my meals around plants rather than animals. I’m not a vegetarian, but I definitely like to eat plants better than animals. I eat some type of plant food with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I eat healthy fat every day including nuts, seeds, almond butter, avocado, olive oil, and coconut. I love pasture raised eggs (including the yolks!) and full-fat yogurt from grass-fed cows (unsweetened of course).
I drink plenty of water! For my size, I need at least 60 oz. per day and I try to drink more than that. I guess I’m making up for all the water I missed as a kid.
I avoid (with a vengeance) highly processed foods. If there are more than 5 ingredients in a packaged food, I scrutinize them very carefully. With few exceptions, I don’t eat food products with lots of added ingredients.
I limit added sugar and never consume artificial sweeteners.
I eat mostly whole grains. I have one or two servings of whole grains on most days. I feel better when I don’t overdo it with this food group.
I cook and eat at home most of the time. I do eat out occasionally but I’m picky about the restaurant. It’s got to have healthy options on the menu. I never eat fast food.
I don’t deprive myself. If I want to indulge in something gooey and sweet, I do it. I don’t do it often though because it doesn’t make me feel good.
I would never go on a diet. Food is to be enjoyed and appreciated. It’s not something to worry about or fear.