By Vanessa Fears
SAN ANTONIO – As the holiday season approaches, learning how to eat right is considered an important key to staying physically and mentally healthy through the seasonal festivities.
At Our lady of the Lake University, the Hispanic/Latino demographics make up 65.2% of students. Classically, racial and ethnic minority groups—such as African American, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian/Alaska natives—experience diet difficulties.
According to nutrition expert, Jessica Satia, these difficulties are defined as diet-related disparities which could result in “poorer dietary quality and inferior health outcomes”.
Some serious outcomes can affect a person’s quality of life.
“The choices we make about food can have very real effects on our health” stated Susan Samuel, a Registered Dietitian at Methodist Healthcare in San Antonio.
Some effects are short-term and can impact blood sugar levels.
Samuel stated, “sugary sodas, candy, cookies, etc. can have a more immediate effect.” This is due to the blood sugar rising in our bodies and a release of insulin from the pancreas.
If sugar levels get too high the pancreas overcompensates and releases too much insulin. When this happens blood sugar levels drop and our body’s crave more food to bring the levels back up.
“This can lead to a roller coaster of feeling down, craving and eating sugar, then temporarily feeling good, only to crash down again a short time later,” said Samuel.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has informed the public that being aware of the Nutrition Facts label on food items can help you make healthier choices.
In addition, eating a balanced diet of 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day along with a variety of whole grains and lean proteins (including plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, nuts, seeds) has been shown to decrease risk of disease, improve energy levels, and reduce feelings of stress.
For people in school and/or working all day, Samuel recommends to:
- Avoid skipping meals.
- Take the time to eat breakfast even if it’s something that you grab and go. Some suggestions are yogurt, a fruit smoothie with protein powder, whole grain tortilla with eggs and veggies, overnight oats, or peanut butter on whole wheat toast.
- Plan ahead for busy days at school or work by prepping some easy healthful snacks the night before such as nuts and dried fruit, string cheese, Greek yogurt, apples with peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, or cottage cheese with fruit.
- Bring along a small insulated bag with cold packs to keep your cold items at a safe temperature throughout the day.
“Although, individual foods may not have a direct impact on health, the overall pattern of what we eat has been known to have a huge impact over time”, said Samuel.
All types of traditional holiday dishes surround people during the seasonal festivities, and not all foods are notorious but, staying informed can improve holiday eating habits.
For more information on managing a healthy diet plan, visit cdc.gov./eat-well.