Making the Right Food Choices – Does it Really Matter?

In one of my previous posts, I said I would address what I learned during the time I was with my nutritionist. Maybe you question the relevance of that, but I never thought things could change so dramatically for me and my family as we learned that making the right food choices really do matter.

Not only did we learn about making wiser food choices, we also learned many interesting facts about food in our body and that our health is determined mostly by what we eat.

Changing your lifestyle is not just about tweaking some things here and there for a short time and expect changes.  If you have cardiovascular disease, you are looking for a change in the long run.  2 months of healthy eating or 2 months of exercise will not do the trick.

You need to make significant and lasting changes if you want to see improvement.

That is exactly what I want to discuss in this topic and talk a little about a change that happened in our lives regarding healthy living.

Hope you enjoy!

A Little About My Eating Habits

As I grew up, little was ever talked about unhealthy or healthy food choices. My parents were uninformed about bad and good food. But they had seen doctors because they were struggling with some health issues, and I remember that I was only around 12 at that time. They were in their early 40s, way too early to have the issues they had.

My mom is an excellent cook, she was a homemaker ever since she married my dad. She absolutely loved to use flour in so many of her recipes (by the way – absolutely delicious). Her bread was very good and she baked bread pretty much every week, so we would have it literally every meal.

Our flour intake was really high and added to that, she baked exquisite sweets: all kinds of cookies, cakes, and so on. She always had the freezer full of those goodies and those were our snacks. After school, we would usually eat a few cookies or a few doughnuts and likely bread with butter and cheese.

We would buy a few vegetables and fruit. After some medical issues, my parents started eating a little less, in order to lose weight, but they did never cut down on sugar and flour because they did not know what was causing their extra pounds and their health problems. When I started to gain weight, they would suggest that I eat less and literally go hungry from the table. That did not happen too often, sadly.

There was no talk about a living a healthy lifestyle because my parents were uninformed, and back then, in school, there was not much talk about it.

Why was that so?  Well, my grandpa lived to be 76 years old, my grandmother to 86 years.  My other grandparents both died at the age of 65 and 73.  Traditions were just copied directly from them into our house.  My mom cooked what my grandparents cooked all their life.  No access to healthy recipes.  Only after we grew up, we started to question some foods that we had eaten regularly.

I must also say that my dear grandparents (dear to my heart, because I didn’t get to know the other grandparents well since they had both passed away before I was 4 years of age) from mom’s side both died to cardiovascular diseases, which now I know had to do in part of their food.

I also remember that my dad started to buy fitness equipment so we could do that, considering that it would make us healthier.  There was no gym back then near to where we lived, so we started on our own.  I started to walk on the treadmill every now and then, but nothing changed.  Is it so that you cannot lose weight by walking on the treadmill?

Here is a great article that answers that question.

Whenever we went to the grocery store, we would come back with lots of other stuff, but little vegetables and fruit. Unhealthy Food Choices in Shopping CartI remember that we seldom had salad on the table. Our side dish was commonly bread, cheese, rice, noodles, potatoes, potato chips, and the list goes on. I think it was not even 1 piece of fruit that I would eat weekly, and I understand my parents did not know about it back then, they did the best they could.

When I married, my wife and I continued with the same lifestyle. Every time we went grocery shopping, lots of canned goods, sugary goods, and proteins would come along. My wife was taught the same way as I.

We would usually buy a small storage bags of groceries every 1 to 2 weeks. That was it. And my pounds did go up and down as I described earlier. Our perception of weight loss was that we only needed to eat less and that we should go exercise (something we both do not like to do). We never knew that the food that you eat is what makes you gain those pounds, not just the amount of food you eat. I have talked to many people and that perception is still very present.

My First Visit With the Nutritionist.

As you know by know from the previous post, approximately 3 years ago, while my wife was pregnant with our first baby, we decided it was time to make some changes, but little did we know what those changes would look like. There was a nutritionist in town which was recommended to us through a family member, whose child had obesity issues. My sister was the first one to go there and she was overwhelmed by what she learned there. So the chain continued, she got my parents to go there as well, and soon enough we were ready to try it too.

I remember the first time I sat in the office of the nutritionist, did a whole body fat scan, and then we had a long talk with him. He would ask about our lifestyle, at what times of the day we would eat, what we would eat most, and why we were there to see him, among other things.

I am naturally skeptical and usually question everything that people want to tell me. Not frequently do I buy ideas from people unknown to me, and even less if they try to convince me of something.

The first thing he told me, after a chat about the above-mentioned things, that he was going to put me on a scheme where I would eat lots and not go hungry. He also said that it was not his job to get my weight down, but to teach me how to eat and be a healthy person.

He then told me that my lifestyle was totally wrong and that I better change that because I was on the way to diabetes or heart disease (Note: Heart disease runs in my family) because I weighed a good 50 pounds of fat to many. So he said he would write down what to eat over the next week, and I was to follow it rigorously and we would go from there. He wanted to find out about my metabolism, the amount of calories burned, and some other things.

He also said that it was not important to him how much I weighed, but how much body fat I had. Weight will be different from person to person, even with the same age, sex and height.

Then he started to write up my menu for the week. He asked me here and there if I preferred for example eggs over beans, apples over bananas, etc. When I looked at the menu, I was quite astonished. There was so many fruit and vegetables on the menu that I could not believe my eyes as to how I would ever be able to eat that, because I was not used to eating that stuff.

We also came to the agreement that I would have lunch at 3:00 pm instead of 12:00 pm, because in Mexico that is common (we had always been eating lunch at around 12:00). And off we went, agreeing to meet in 7 days and evaluate.

When we left the office, my wife and I were looking to each other and making those funny faces that you make when somebody has just told you things that you are not sure if you wasted your time listening and in this case wasting money.

Nevertheless, we decided to make the appointment and try it for one week and probably dismiss it after that. Make a guess. You are right: We went to see him on a regular basis.

What Did I Learn From the Visits To the Nutritionist?

There are a number of things I learned while we went on regular visits to the nutritionist. And I want to highlight only 3 of them here and go just a little into detail (otherwise this post would be too long):

a) Body fat is the thing you should be watching: As I stated before, my nutritionist was not worried about my body weight, but by body fat. Our body needs fat in order to function correctly, but a high amount of fat leads to all kinds of diseases. Since all our most important vital organs are in the rib cage and in our belly, an excessive amount of fat around these organs can lead to serious problems over time.

b) Fruits and vegetables matter: From the moment we visited the nutritionist we would go grocery shopping right after the visit; we did not go random shopping anymore. We ran through the store with our menus and bought exactly what we were supposed to eat and even the amounts for the number of days until the next visit.

And our shopping carts were filled with these “goodies” (watch how my vocabulary has changed). Our metabolism sped up and we both lost lots of body fat but not so much weight. Our clothing sizes went rapidly down, but our total weight came down slowly, even though my wife was pregnant.

c) Our energy levels went up: I have never been a person of napping after lunch. But only recently had I started with that and I felt so weary and burned out every day, that I could literally not get enough sleep. It only took around 3 weeks after we had been eating healthy stuff that we realized how much more energy we had.

I personally got up early in the morning and could hardly go to bed at night, because I was so active. Here is the funny part: I even asked the nutritionist after some visits if he could please lower the energy boosters a little (back then I was only starting to understand which were the boosters), so I would be able to sleep 8-9 full hours again. He just laughed, because he knew how much more I got done.

Looking back, I consider that this was a great amount learned. I stated before that I am usually skeptical, and I was doing my share of research the first few weeks and it made more and more sense to me.

I am truly thankful for the knowledge that he passed on to me. My family benefited from it as well. Today when we go to my parents’ house, we will definitely have less sugar, less flour and more fruit and vegetable offered at the table.

Healthy vs. unhealthy food choices is a huge discussion nowadays, and many people doubt if there really is such a thing as unhealthy eating habits or unhealthy food choices. I often hear people say: People that eat healthy get cancer and die, so I’d better enjoy my food and not worry about it too much. I prefer to make healthier food choices for the sake of feeling good, energized, having a clear mind, being able to concentrate better on my tasks.

We are not going to live forever by making healthy food choices daily, but definitely better quality of life lived.

By the way, this is one of my favorite replies to people making those statements.

Have My Eating Habits Changed?

This is a tricky question. Although I did not stick with the rigorous eating habits that I had started three years ago, I definitely make wise food choices today compared to what I did 10 years ago. My weight has been going back up, but I have not checked my body fat in quite a while (around 2 years), yet I have never been coming out of any grocery store with only 1 bag of “goodies” vs. 6 bags of highly processed foodsHealthy Food Choices in Shopping Cart. Every time I cook, I avoid too much flour and sugar in it, and my wife rarely bakes any sweets anymore, and if she does, she usually puts in less than half the sugar amount she would have used before.

We have also gone more organic ever since. I even made my own organic garden and bought a small greenhouse, out of which we have taken lots of greens.

The interesting thing about all this is that I do not have so many cravings for all the stuff that I was used to always eat. I grab a banana instead of that large doughnut. When I go the buffet, I will go for one plate of vegetables first before I take any of that other stuff. That is an improvement.

Overall I have made progress in the last few years with my eating habits, and I am working on them because the results have been so clear for me that I have no doubt that the food we take in, decides how we feel! And that is a huge plus for me!

 

As you see through this post, change is possible and necessary if you want to live a healthier lifestyle.  Am I an expert at healthy living? No.  Am I a doctor who can tell what to eat or what not?  No.  I am experiencing along the way and learning eagerly in order to do things.  You never know if you can prevent one or the other thing in the long run, by changing your lifestyle.

I would love to hear from you. Have you ever experienced something similar? Have you changed your eating habits with the same results?

 

Have a fantastic one and see me next time,

Oscar

P.S.  If you learned something new or enjoyed reading my post, please share on social media links below or subscribe to my email list to receive my new articles directly in your mailbox.  Also, leave me a comment below.  I love to hear from you.  Thank you so much.

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10 Comments Add yours
  1. Yes! You are 100% correct! Healthy eating is not something parents talk about with their kids. I’m happy to say I am not one of them.

    I have 2 kids–a boy and girl–and they already know that if you eat heaps you get fat.

    For Christmas my girl was saying she doesn’t want to eat heaps of chocolate because she would get sick. I didn’t say anything about healthy eating. I am just proud that she knows there’s consequences for mindlessly putting food in your mouth.

    Thanks for such a great article.

    1. Congratulations to you for talking to your kids about healthy food. It is way to common for us parents to tell our children “I don’t know” to excuse long discussions that we are not up to. And that is what happens when talking about food.

      Keep it up,
      Oscar

  2. Oscar, your article made me think: I like to bake too, a lot. My kids love pizza, so I make it from scratch using organic ingredients and freshly shredded cheese. I don’t use pepperoni or salami, my kids think it’s too spicy, but I do add bell peppers, or onions (my kids love it, for some reason) or tomatoes or whatever veggie I have in the fridge. I do believe everything in moderation is the key and also mix it with good fiber. This was a great read.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Sometimes I am not so sure if everything in moderation is the answer. I think we too often tell ourselves its ok to have a little of junk food, but is it really ok? It is worth giving it a thought. I do the same thing. I do sometimes eat things I know very well I shouldn’t eat!

      Thanks,
      Oscar

  3. Talk about your perfect timing!

    Just this past weekend, I attended a Health Fair given by the great Dr. Oz himself! The had about 15 different vendors related to health and several angel discussion. The main topic of conversation: food. Exercise is crucial, but it seems what we eat plays a MAJOR roll in our health. Dr. Oz spoke for about 30 minutes and really gave us more detailed information on the dangers of eating too much of the wrong thing.

    I never thought of this until I just read your article, Oscar, but I think it’s safe to say that man-made processed sugar could form under the same category as cigarettes, in terms of how dangerous it is to our health. I remember my mom telling me, that when she was going through nursing school, that they practically encouraged everyone to smoke during their brakes…doctors and nurses alike!

    Great post, Oscar. I hope that more people can read this and make the necessary changes.

    1. Definitely! I am trying to remember whether it was or was not my my nutritionist that said that food is 80% and exercise only 20%. And I believe that to be absolutely true.

      I will elaborate on sugar and flour in a post in the future. I believe strongly that sugar and flour cause most of obesity in the world and that it is really an addiction. Dr. Thompson from Bright Line Eating says that there is enough research made in neuroscience that shows that the same cells in our brain are activated when consuming sugar than any other drug, which makes sense.

      I am glad you enjoyed my post. Follow me on the next one as well.

  4. Absolutely food matters! Choose organic and plant a garden, no matter how small.

    Some time ago, I cut out artificial sweeteners and all processed food. It was life changing. My husband ate his way out of type 2 diabetes by eating well.

    There’s some great documentaries; Food Inc and Food Matters. Great eye openers into the food industry. If you’ve not seen them I recommend them.

    Grow food, not lawns.
    L

    1. Thank you, Lace! As I put in my article, I only learned about this in the recent past. And I have non-immediate family members who still do not believe that food matters. I think there are lots of people who do not know it and maybe even believe it. Once you make significant lifestyle changes, you come to understand it.

      And thanks for the documentaries on Netflix. I have seen the 2 that you’ve mentioned. And there are some more out there, don’t remember the titles right now, but I will definitely come back on those in future articles.

      Thanks again!

  5. Hi Oscar,
    This post is really informative. My husband and I used to love going to buffets and were always eating out after we got married and had our first born. But 2 years ago we just decided to do a life style change, that included our eating habits and food choices plus we added exercising/working out on our routines. These things really helped us especially my husband, from xl size clothing he was now down to S/M size now. I can say that choosing healthier foods really made a lot for both of us.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I would love to know what worked out best for you as to go down so quickly in sizes. Did you avoid sugar and flour, did you do a specific diet plan or just change your foods and workout? Would love to hear more from your story as I am there now trying to lose those excessive pounds. I’m doing really well but I am learning.

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