I Am Eating Free

I love food and celebrate eating! Believe me, I don’t hold back- dessert, pasta, potatoes, and even rice.  My favorite foods are pizza and dark chocolate and at 43, I feel fantastic! I’m energized and feel satisfied throughout the day.  How do I do it? by Eating Free!

In my profession I meet many people, and they often ask if I am a personal trainer.  When I ask why they think that, they say it is because I look fit.  The truth is, I’m not a personal trainer, nor do I exercise like a maniac to get this way.  I am a Registered Dietitian that loves to eat, so I know that how you look and feel is based on 80% diet and 20% exercise.  So yes, I do exercise, but I do it because it makes me feel good and it’s good for my system.  I don’t count on it for weight management; instead I rely on Eating Free.

I teach my clients how to manage their food by making Eating Free a positive part of their lives; I want them to integrate the healthy skills I provide into a natural way of living.  The problem really isn’t food itself; it is what you choose to do with food that causes issues for your health.  So, if when you go to the grocery store you choose only processed foods, your health will reflect this.

Growing up in Peru, I was taught to respect and appreciate food and ate all of my meals from home. Food was made by hand and we even enjoyed dessert at the end of the day- rice pudding, cake, and other sweets made from delicious natural sugars. My relationship with food is a positive one; I know my limits and listen to the signals that my body sends me.  I also remember that the body works on a weekly average of intake, so it is the sum of the foods eaten weekly that determines overall nutrition and your weight.  This is what my strategy, Eating Free, is all about.  I don’t eat chocolate-chip cookies every day, but I do allow for these treats in my diet. The Eating Free coaches can teach you all about how to do this successfully.

So what do I eat? On the weekend I go shopping to arm myself with ingredients for healthy meals as well as nutritious snacks for the busy work week ahead.  At night, I cook and prepare some foods in advance (like oatmeal and whole grains) because I am a busy working professional like many of you.  I have two businesses and I am the spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.  I work long hours, but I make Eating Free a priority because it allows me to do all of this and still feel great!

I also eat every 3-4 hours to keep my metabolism running and I always combine protein and carbohydrates to control my hunger as well as speed up my metabolism.  Most meals I make at home, with love, because I love what I eat!  Going out to eat is a celebration, not a norm, so I bring my lunch to work and when I take my break, I eat nothing else.  I eat mindfully and at home I eat with elegance- I wasn’t kidding when I said I celebrate eating! I check in with myself sometimes by weighing my foods and record keeping because it helps me stay on track.  I exercise 4 days a week, doing weight training and briskly walking everywhere for cardio.  I also sometimes run to release stress.

23 years ago when I entered the American way the bustle of the city was exciting and new. Swept up in all things American, the social dining etiquette was extremely fascinating to me. Food was not a reflex here. Suddenly, there were all sorts of food I had to avoid including meat, rice, potatoes, bread, sweets, chocolate and sometimes even fruit! For discipline’s sake, I wasn’t supposed to eat when I was hungry and not only did I have to start scheduling meal times, but they should also be last priority on the to-do list. Empty refrigerators and convenience stores, sandwich shops, cafes, and restaurants were shockingly common fare. No longer was going out to eat a celebration, but rather, cooking was a special event. But no matter how hard I tried to acclimate, I just couldn’t bare to have a cold sandwich for lunch or even restrict myself from the sustenance I soon realized I cherished. What was a Peruvian boy to do?

My last six years in private practice and 10 years before that in public health, have truly humbled and taught me an enormous wealth of knowledge. I have not only witnessed a physiological manifestation of a starving fat nation, but also the strength of the human spirit to endure through exhaustion. Time and again, my clients tell me what they don’t eat, what they’ve cut out, what they eat-on-the-go, and how well they can survive on nothing. Astonishingly, the food which nourishes us is covered in guilt and fear.

With the momentum of thousands of successful clients behind me, I have developed a dream and a goal to bring food and eating back! The current degraded state of our health demands a return to hand-picking our fruits and vegetables, grains, and lean meats; chopping, slicing, cooking, putting love into foods; and smelling, tasting, and savoring the palate of flavors before us. Through the launch of a national movement, Eating Free, eating will no longer be a chore, a practice in discipline, a guilty pleasure, or even just a reflex.

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