“They made us believe that the simple foods we prepared where we were born—where our parents were born—had no value because they were our only option.
Today we know that what we learned to eat with our grandparents has immeasurable nutritional and cultural value.”
Young people in the Indigenous/Latinx community have learned to eat the way their parents and grandparents did in their places of origin. Here in San Francisco, which is considered the healthiest city in the United States of America, this is not only a quality diet, but is also trendy, and can keep future generations connected to their healthiest roots.
Ingrid López was born in a small village where many vegetables are grown, including edible herbs, grains—mainly beans and corn—as well as products derived from cow milk, such as cream and cheese. Ingrid is a native of Honduras, where she lived with her grandmother. She arrived in the United States in 2017 to reunite with her mom.
“When I arrived here, I felt the difference in the food, mainly because we ate a lot of junk food, meals outside the home that were very fattening. I was not used to that, and I also ate red meat more frequently,” Ingrid mentions. She also said that when she migrated, her consumption of red meat increased, also ate more pasta and foreign foods loaded with carbohydrates, which direclty impacted her weight.
“When I arrived, I started eating a lot of candy, chocolates, and sodas because I thought everything tasted better and was accessible. That is how I put on 40 pounds,” Ingrid regrets. When she turned 15, she decided to join her school soccer team and noticed she was not in very good shape as she would get tired very quickly while training. It was then that she decided it was time to pay attention to her health. “In my family, no one suffers from diabetes or other diseases that can be hereditary, but I know they can develop if we do not limit the amount of sugar or fat we eat,” Ingrid asserts.
When she started taking care of herself, she did not quite know what eating well meant, so she stopped consuming foods that are critical for good health. She also acquired bad habits, such as skipping dinner, which made her regain the weight she had lost while trying to have a healthier diet without knowing how. “My mom was worried about my health, so she found a nutritionist. However, my family couldn’t afford the treatment for a sophisticated diet, which she was recommending” says Ingrid.
This situation motivated her to resume the eating habits she grew up with. “I started cooking my own food, including the foods I was used to, such as beans, lentils, rice, herbs and vegetables soups. Ate less meat in general. I started eating fruits again. I started eating seeds again, such as peanuts, cashews, etc.,” Ingrid explains. She learned to prepare different types of juices, especially green juices, to drink water instead of sugary drinks, and, most importantly, she learned to listen to her body and not eat more than the amount needed to satisfy her. “Sometimes we eat because we are anxious and we end up overeating,” she adds.
Including physical activity and workouts in her daily life to inspire her family is one of Ingrid’s goals—and she succeeded in motivating her mom. She enjoys running in the mornings with her family and going with her brother to his soccer practice in the afternoons. “We take advantage of that time to do something healthy and at the same time have fun. I can say that I’ve been happier since I chose a healthier lifestyle. I enjoy the foods I like, have an active lifestyle and I feel healthy.” she emphasizes.
While not vegetarian, Ingrid follows a diet comprised mainly of plant-based proteins which is becoming increasingly more common among young people and people choosing a lifestyle that is healthier and more responsible towards the planet.
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