A Food Memory

I believe food can be harmful and challenging for a lot of us without knowing what it actually does to your health and the quality of your life. If we are more aware, educated, and know what food does to us we can be in better control of it. People sometimes eat poor foods that can cause deceases. Foods with no nutrition and are high in fats which can lead to diseases like obesity, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, premature death, and many more other serious illnesses. If we knew how much these everyday normal comfort foods affect us, people would probably think twice before putting something greasy or not nutritious in their mouths again.

Our culture can have a huge impact on how we handle food. Being a Mexican American I grew up being around a lot of delicious food all the time. We use to eat all day while we talked. My mother would cook delicious ethnic Mexican food like posole (a spicy soup), mole, enchiladas, tamales, tacos, chile rellenos, carne asada, and the list goes on. Being in the kitchen was a time to spend quality time, and show love for each other while eating. We would talk about what was going on in our lives, like problems, the people around us, gossip, everything, and anything. The conversations were fun while we hung out together and ate. I wasn’t aware at the time how eating a lot all day long could affect my weight and health in the long run. My mentality was that it was normal to eat this way since we always did this. I also felt I could eat as much, and whatever I wanted to, because I worked out a lot.

I never came across issues with weight until I started doing fitness competitions. I would deprive myself of foods to look perfectly defined on stage so I could impress the judges in order to win. The diets for these competitions were very unhealthy, very limited, and hard on the body. At the time I wasn’t aware how much harm I was doing to myself physically and mentally. After competing I would eat any food I wanted. I was so deprived that I would only crave junk food. I wanted food I never even liked before I started competing. After the show you would hear from the competitors back stage saying “ Its time to go to Krispy creams!” or “ I just want to get this over with and finally eat real food!” The best part of the day besides winning was having the freedom to eat anything we wanted after the show. I felt sluggish, I started gaining weight, and feeling like I had no control of food. I didn’t know enough about what I should eat or not eat. Instead of eating to stay alive, and healthy, I was eating for comfort. I felt after the hard work of dieting for these competitions I could reward and comfort myself with food. When I finally reflected on these issues I decided to educate myself in nutrition by doing research, taking classes, reading books, etc. It was time to win a more important competition, a competition of my health.

I now eat foods for the right reasons. I get to enjoy all the great variety of rich nutritious foods that keep my body feeling great and balanced. I eat foods to keep me energized for my workouts, school, work, every day life. I keep my energy up by eating my three important meals a day. I always make sure to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner a long with two or three healthy snacks in between meals. My meals always consist of lean proteins like ground turkey, fish, and chicken. I eat carbohydrates that are high in fiber like brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and quinoa. I also have vegetables, and fruits. My snacks are nuts, raisins, fruits, and yogurts. I make sure I incorporate good healthy fats in my foods, and I’m not afraid of eating them, because I know they are good for me. If I have a sweet tooth at the end of the day I’ll eat a small piece of dark chocolate. Eating these types of foods helps me stay satisfied and never feeling deprived.

My culture is still important to me and I still eat all the delicious ethnic Mexican foods, but in moderation. I still hang out with my family and talk, but I no longer sit and eat in the kitchen all day long. We now go for nice hikes or walks while we talk and spend time together. If we are still chatting in a restaurant or kitchen eating ethnic foods I listen to my body and stop when I feel full. My culture is important to me, but so is my health. I make sure I share what I’ve learned with my loved ones and the people I influence.

I feel more balanced now when it comes to food. My moods are so much better when I’m studying or thinking, I feel sharper. I feel like a happier person and more motivated in all aspects of my life. I know this has a lot to do with the way I eat.  There was a time when I wouldn’t eat enough or I would eat too much, and I would feel off balance. I was sluggish, tired, depressed, and at times angry. Food plays a big part in balancing your life and that’s why it’s a priority for me to make sure I eat well. I eat good food, small portions and always remind myself of all the benefits my body can get out of good nutrition. I am more aware and educated of what foods I eat. I feel great!

Always love yourself,

Norma