Last week Wednesday I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion on the importance of healthy eating. This discussion was put on by the Rotaract Club of Antigua and Barbuda in which I occasionally attend meetings. Sadly, there was an issue with panel hosts but it was still an eventful evening. The host of the night was Ms. Charity Dublin, a nutritionist by trade and fellow lifestyle blogger.
So, what is healthy eating?
It isn’t just about eating your fruits and vegetables, but also getting the right amounts of each food group. Yes, foods are grouped and this is something I learnt in secondary school. The categories they are grouped in are based on the similar amounts of key nutrients they provide. I feel they’re supposed to be seven, but Google was showing me very different things. This was the closest to what I remember plus what we discussed.
HEALTHY EATING IS ALL ABOUT BALANCE
To get the conversation started we began by looking at each food group and seeing the good and bad of each. For everything in life there’s a good and a bad, yin and yang. One of the things we learnt about were healthy oils (plant based) to cook with and the not so healthy ones. Did you guys know you shouldn’t fry foods with olive oil? *don’t ask me why*
We here in the Caribbean LOVE our fatty foods, especially fried chicken more specifically KFC. Chicken is protein right? But, are we covering the other food groups when we choose to have this meal? Also, avocado is known as a vegetable good in fat but this doesn’t mean we should eat a whole avocado to get coverage from those two food groups.
Another thing that us as Caribbean people love is our big Sunday lunch/dinner = CARBS; don’t worry I’m not judging you because I’m guilty of it too. Our plates would be packed high with starch, protein and little vegetables, but this is not the way it should be. Remember that balance thing I mentioned? Well, apparently there’s an outline for your plate as well –
In other models fruits and vegetables are given half your plate, and foods/drinks high in fat/sugar isn’t included. This however brings us to our next point –
EVERYTHING IN MODERATION
Just because we want to eat healthier doesn’t mean we have to cut out all the “junk” out of our diets. Simply monitor and modify how often we are eating these foods. Even your favorite health gurus on social media have “cheat days”.
Exercise and healthy eating go hand in hand. They both work together to help improve our bodies. Exercise doesn’t exactly mean having to go to the gym, hire a trainer etc etc, it’s whatever suits you. Something simple as walking (briskly) everyday for 30 minutes or playing a sport is a good way to keep active. By keeping active you can maintain a healthy weight and also reduce your chances of illnesses.
We spoke briefly of the many sickness/illness you can get from eating unhealthy or not getting enough nutrients from one or more food groups. Questions from the audience also delved into the topics of skin related issues with unhealthy eating. For example eczema flares can occur from foods including milk, and also the problem of acne. There’s also the case of allergens in which we didn’t go in depth about.
BENEFITS OF HEALTHY EATING
- A healthy diet which is a plus for keeping illnesses at bay (heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol)
- A better mood; when we exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released to our brains which triggers positive feelings
- Weight control
- An increased energy level as opposed to the sluggish feeling after eating unhealthy. This will then improve productivity.
- Saves money – By preparing meals weekly
All in all, this was a pretty good session *I obviously didn’t cover everything, but I think I got the main points*. The timing of this event was really funny, because over the last few weeks I’ve been playing with the idea of going vegan. This idea came about after problems with my skin that I’ve always had as well as other issues. I think it would definitely be a challenge for me giving up meat, seafood and dairy products as those are my favorites.
But since I heard about moderation being key and balance maybe there’s a way I can factor in vegan foods with minimum of the other stuff. However, I would definitely keep you guys updated if/when I do make this switch. P.s I’ve already started pinning vegan recipes I’d love to try.