I’ve been a vegetarian for four decades. I juice. I refrain from eating pretty much anything white, except for coconut, cauliflower and mushrooms. I drastically limit my carbs, fats and sugars. But that still doesn’t mean that I eat enough veggies.
The Centers for Disease Control, in a 2012 survey, confirmed that San Antonians are not getting enough of nature’s best. More than one in four reported consuming less than one serving of vegetables daily, and 64 percent of adults eat less than one serving of fruit a day.
Pretty sad, considering apple pie and pizza contain fruits and veggies, though I wouldn’t recommend, or eat, either. Maybe that cherry empanada was the only fruit serving, and the shavings of iceberg lettuce sprinkled in a taco or burger was the only vegetable.
Fortunately, the San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council (MFC) is trying to make a difference. Beyond all the other health and nutrition related activities that the city is doing, now, the San Antonio is calling on its residents to Veg Out.
Veg Out is a campaign, launched today by Mayor Ivy Taylor at City Hall, to educate our residents about the benefits of fruits and veggies. Mayor Taylor, and the MFC, want to make our city one of the fittest, rather than fattest cities in the nation. One of those routes is for all of us to eat more fruit and vegetables.
“We’re fighting a host of diseases,” said Mayor Taylor. However, people can make a difference, “by choosing to eat an apple a day…a smoothie…a salad..” Mayor Taylor also emphasized that eating healthy does not need to be expensive or difficult. She showed samples of what $40 worth of fresh produce looks like and admitted that she was going to place more attention on her own diet to impact her own health. “It’s easy and affordable,” she said.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, there is compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
You don’t have to have a Harvard degree to recognize that eating an apple a day, keeps the doctor away. My generation grew up seeing Popeye’s muscles pop out after downing his spinach. Most people understand that eating fresh fruits and veggies are important, but it’s way too easy to swing by the drive-thru and order a Happy Meal or Dollar Meal, and mindlessly scarf down a zillion calories, carbs, fats and sodium. If it all fits into one hand, it can’t be too bad, some may rationalize.
For those that cook at home, many of us take the easy way out and pop something pre-packaged in the over or microwave without inspect the nutritional information label. When we cook from scratch, that doesn’t always mean it’s healthy, either. We may say, if grandma cooked with all that lard or butter, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Before I get off my soap box, I have to underscore that Americans have been led to believe that it’s all about the protein. We consume twice as much protein as required. The dairy and meat industries have poured billions into advertising and lobbying so that even the USDA’s official food pyramid was lopsided.
Here in Texas, we think the more beef, the better. Registered dietitians suggest a serving of protein as a thin piece, the size of the palm of your hand. Yet it’s common for restaurants to serve up four times that size on your dish, and we think that’s normal.
Many believe that dairy and meats equal protein. Yet, there’s a long laundry list of plant-based foods, such as broccoli, that are far more packed with protein than what comes from the slaughterhouse.
San Antonio is reported to be one of the most obese cities in the US, with 65 percent of adults being overweight or obese. In my book, obesity is the short cut to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and diabetes affects about twice as many people in San Antonio than the rest of the U.S.
Today is also the day I launch my six week series of workshops on weight management, in which nutrition plays a key role.
A balanced dish is not a quarter pounder, fries and a coke. There are many different nutritional “pyramids” or “dishes,” but for anyone prone to diabetes, or with existing high blood sugar, I recommend half of the meal be low-glycemic fruits and nutrient-rich veggies (NOT iceberg lettuce) prepared with minimal oils, if any. Reserve just one-quarter of the plate, each, for some complex carbohydrates (nothing white) and your low-fat protein. Re-think what’s a protein. Quinoa is an outstanding form of protein, as are most all dark green vegetables, nuts and beans. To get some great meal ideas, recipes, and learn why you need to increase veggies and nuts, and reduce your animal protein, read Dr. Furhman’s books, “The End of Dieting,” “Eat for Health” or “Eat to Live.”
Be on the look out for Veg Out billboards and public service announcements, in English and Spanish, sprouting up around the city. More importantly, make the resolve to be fitter and to help your friends and family to be in better health, by Vegging Out.
Note: The San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council was formed in 2010 with the mission to lead San Antonio to be one of the healthiest and most active communities in the nation in which residents, groups and organizations work collaboratively to achieve targeted health and fitness goals.
As an avid promoter of well being, fitness and nutrition, I’ve been a part of the city’s mission since the chalkboard (SA2020). For recipe ideas and more information on healthy eating and diabetes, or my workshops visit www.TheNamasteCounsel.com/articles or https://thenamastecounsel.com/yoga-blog/. To keep up with the latest on Veg Out, including upcoming contests or to download free campaign materials, visit www.FitCitySA.com