Sep 02, 2014

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A New Sancocho: Staying Healthy, Fit and Sexy

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The New Latina Guide to a Fabulous 2011 Year! is a collection of insights and tips from a group of talented Latinas (and one Latino) on how to live life to the fullest.  Today, we feature Andrea Ramírez’s piece, on healthy eating.  To download the free New Latina Guide, click here.

A Sancocho is a quintessential culinary delight of many Latin countries. Who doesn’t love a bowl of the piping hot stew with beef, chicken or fish — or all three, as is the case with Colombian “Sancocho Trifásico” — plus disproportionately large rations of potatoes, yucca, plantain, corn and more starchy delights that vary depending of place of origin? Mmmmm… Que rico!

So, if there’s anything we Latinas have in common — aside from the fact that we grew up shaped up by telenovelas — it’s that we loooove carbohydrates.

And it shows. I don’t have to tell you that the Latino community, (along with the African-American community), is ballooning up at a worrisomely fast pace.

We know this. And we also know that obesity is not only an aesthetic issue. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease and a myriad of other health issues come along with it. Not fun.

Latinas are especially hard working and have a marked tendency to take care of everyone else, most times at the expense of their own well-being. Between family, work and other obligations, it is certainly difficult to maintain balance and sometimes the easiest thing is to get some take out.

As role models for the family though, we need to give them an example of self-care and inspire healthy habits in the household.

We want to be healthy and happy. We want to have healthy and happy children. How do we change things?

We need to learn the recipe for a “New Sancocho” and make it often. This sancocho is homemade, like we had it growing up, but it is made with leafy greens and colorful vegetables instead of the starchy roots we learned to love.

What does this mean?

1. We need to get in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, most of the food we eat out is full of calories, carbohydrates and low quality fats but depleted of nutrients. The only way to have control over the food we eat is to prepare at least 50% of it from scratch.

If you want to be healthy and raise a healthy family, I encourage you to recover the tradition of cooking from scratch at home. This might feel difficult at first, but it gets real easy with practice.

Get children involved in the cooking process too. Take them grocery shopping, ask them what they like, teach them how to cook. This way they will start loving healthy food early in life and eventually, when they are old enough, you can really count on their helping hands.

Reevaluate the convenience of fast food and ready-made supermarket foods. They might be cheap in the short run, but in the long run we are certainly paying a steep price in health costs and unhappiness.

2. We need to eat together

Eating goes far beyond something we do to merely survive. Food is love and eating feeds the soul as well as the body, but it is difficult to experience this if we are eating alone, on the run. All our good memories are tied to sharing meals together. When we eat together, we bond together.

Your family might not get together to share a meal every day, but you sure can make it happen a few times a week.

3. We need to fall in love with veggies.

I’m not taking about those yummy roots we love already. I’m referring to the wide variety of multicolored vegetables out there. We need to learn how to prepare them and we need to eat salads and cooked vegetables every day, so our children learn to love them as well.

We have abused our metabolism with excess carbohydrates for many generations and that makes each new generation even less tolerant to the high carbohydrate load. That means the children of our children run the risk of becoming overweight even faster than we, or our children, can, unless we make a radical shift in our eating habits.

Cooking and eating at home and eating an abundance of vegetables daily are fundamental to getting you and your family healthier. Let’s do it so we can get healthy, fit and sexy, and for the sake of many new generations of healthy Latinos.

Andrea Ramírez is a health coach for women who want to get healthy and know they need to sort out their relationship with food to do it.  She offers seminars, cooking classes, group courses and individual programs — online and off — to educate, empower and amuse women around the world. Andrea is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and a holistic-minded practitioner certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and Columbia University, Teachers College. You can find ridiculously easy recipes, writings on healthy life-style, amateur but quite useful videos and a hefty dose of silliness at TrueNourishment.

Photo 1: Joe Buckingham; 2: Gavinczac

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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