Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Eat to live, NOT live to eat

How many of us can actually admit to the above statement?

The “eating season” has just ended. New Year Resolutions or Goals usually have “lose weight” in them. In the first place, it would have been best if one thought of eating right during the holidays. It might have helped to be reminded of what matters most when it comes to nutrition and what we stuff our stomachs with.

With the advent of social media and instant sharing of photos, it becomes apparent how we actually live to eat because of the proliferation of photos of food posted. It’s as if eating has become everyone’s favourite past time giving credence to the supposedly ‘favourite subject’ of a lot of people in school: recess. This applies, of course, to those who have access to modern gadgets, the internet and what else, money to buy food and more food. Never mind that there are those who are supposed to be wallowing in poverty and hunger; they’re not part of the “in crowd” anyway! But that is a different story.

Let’s focus on this favourite past time of a lot of people: Eating.

As parents, we are responsible for the wellness and health of our children especially if they’re still under our care. We are responsible for what they eat every day. Are we feeding them junk food? Soda? Fast food? Are we dishing out oil-rich food high in cholesterol and sugar? Are we doing that because we ourselves eat them? Are we letting them play outside and exercise the way our generations did or are we showering them with gadgets they can play to exercise their fingers alone?

Most of us are probably guilty about this. And then later we complain our children are weak and have no drive to study or do anything productive. When they grow up, they will do the same thing to their children or do something even worse which I cannot imagine anymore.

Our children will not only eat these kinds of food at home. Doing so in their growing up years could create a habit which they will bring into those years when they will no longer be with us like when they go to college and live in another place. I know there are mothers who will feel bad if their children will not eat the humba or the kare-kare they have cooked. There are parents who don’t feel their celebration is complete without lechon or ice cream or cake. In parties, it seems it’s a mortal sin not to fill up one’s plate. How often do we hear these words: “Are you just eating that? C’mon, there’s more on the table, get some more food!”

Some children will inherit their parents’ love for food and their skill in cooking, too. There’s nothing wrong with that. What I think is wrong is the habit of eating unhealthy food that is being passed on from one generation to another. Fatty food like pork and beef. Sugary snacks and drinks. Unlimited white rice. The more, the better, is the battle cry.

In the long run, the children will also inherit these from their parents: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, fatty liver, kidney disease and other diseases which would have been prevented had a healthy lifestyle been followed. Don’t you hate having to listen to conversations that center around one’s blood sugar level or blood pressure or who had a stroke and who just got hospitalized? Or perhaps it’s more “sosyal” to talk in letters like SGPT and FBS which sound like NCIS and FBI? Whatever happened to “our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?”

Don’t get me wrong. I know this for a fact because I also come from a family who loves to eat. My dad would be distraught when we would just have enough food on our plates when we were little and he would insist we get more. Like the Chinese which he is not, he thought children should be chubby. The Chinese thinks chubby children are a sign of prosperity while my dad thought slim ones have a lung problem. An uncle of mine did that to his children, too. Now, they are a diabetic family. Why is that so? Their mother, my late grandmother, bless her soul, was such a terrific cook! It would break her heart if her kids won’t eat a lot of her dishes. She passed away 5 months before her 60th birthday due to a heart attack. Good thing my dad outlived her by 24 years and counting.

The organization, Order of the Amaranth, has a thrust which centers around “Diabetes Awareness.” They have this project, “Sweet Fraternity” which has been going on for many years now. The group screens and monitors the progress of around diabetic patients by monitoring their blood sugar, teaching them proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle and providing them with low-cost medicine. Below are stories and alarming statistics related to this disease.

Philippine Diabetes Statistics
Diabetes and the Filipino Diet

One person dies from diabetes every 10 seconds

What I’m saying here is, we are responsible for our own wellness and health if we are only willing to change our lifestyle and eating habits. We should also be aware that it is not only our lives which are at stake but those of our children as well. If we must have a good quality of life, then being healthy in body, mind, soul and spirit should be our main concern. But how can we be healthy in the last three if our bodies are not?

Think about it. Perhaps it’s time to change some things in your life. It’s never too late to start.

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