By Jaime V. Cabrera, MSCP, GD. EMD
DOST-PSTC Catanduanes

Diet or Dieting is the practice of eating food in a regulated and supervised fashion to decrease, maintain, or increase body weight, according to Wikipedia. It is a conscious effort to manage the kind, time and amount of food to eat for a beneficial purpose.

Ideally, dieting should be practiced by people of all ages. But unfortunately we only think about diet when we begin to experience obesity, diabetes, hypertension or other acquired disorders requiring medical attention. Notwithstanding the helix of inheritance, “we are what we eat.” What we eat early in life, the substances that we load our body is our building block. Our tissues, organs, every part of our body are completed out of what we eat. In other words, if we over indulge in sweets, sugar foods it is very likely that we will be afflicted with diabetes, or if we take so much meat or fatty foods in time we will suffer heart problems, or if we consume large amount of uric acid rich foods arthritis or rheumatism will catch up with us. On the contrary, if our body is not provided the right nourishment this will lead to starvation. Prolonged starvation will result to underweight or poor muscle build-up and this can herald aging.

The Food Pyramid of DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute is a good personal guide on appropriate food intakes for Filipinos. But it’s the professionals who can explain to us better recommended diets. For example, if the food pyramid says 6 tsp of sugar/sweets how often do we take this in order that we get the right nourishment but kept us from diabetes? Or, if it says 4-6 servings of meat how often do we take this in our feeding program so that we could maintain good health while avoiding heart related problems?

My opinion, dieting is not escaping food. It is “eating the right food, right amount and at the right time”. There are no fixed rules on food intake because every individual has a unique metabolic property. But if we eat our food correctly the benefits is also astounding. Here is an experience: Early morning from bed I drink at least 2 glasses of water (not cold). Readings told me that it dilutes the blood and thus normalize circulation. After 5-10 minutes I take fruits. Fruit is packed with antioxidant or dietary fibers.

The juice from fruits, on empty stomach, takes no time to get into the blood stream. In the blood stream, accordingly, it sweeps the toxin (sugar, cholesterol, uric acid, etc.) that may be perniciously deposited in the veins and arteries. Then, after at least 30 minutes I take my “kingly” (heavy) breakfast. Breakfast gives us energy for our early activities of the day, therefore necessary. It balanced the need for nourishments as we perform physically and mentally taxing tasks. Likewise, research suggests that there is higher percentage of individuals who are not overweight with full breakfast. Without full breakfast our body undergoes an extended fasting from our last meal at night. By the time we eat our first full meal it leads us to stock up so much of unhealthy food that we find somewhere else outside our kitchen which often brings us to doze off with unspent energy, especially if we have sedentary lifestyle. In this lifestyle we invite ailment to sneak on us. Of course, it is different if we do physical activities where we sweat it out.

Fruits taken early need not be so much. For example, we can divide 400 grams pineapple to about 6 slices. One slice each morning is enough to make our day. Here are some facts about fruits. When we eat fruits after meal the dietary fiber may no longer serve its function because this will be synthesized mixed with other foodstuffs like rice, meat, vegetable, or the like, as a simple sugar or peptide during digestion. The synthetic path therefore is beneficial if we take it on empty stomach. We should exercise caution though that getting into the empty stomach routine needs adjustment and should be gradual otherwise it will upset our system.

Similarly, it is not because we have a heart problem we should avoid meat. It’s not good to avoid crabs, for example, because of high blood pressure. Eating the right amount is still beneficial because besides protein crab supply us with natural iodine. Iodine is needed by the cells to convert food into energy, vital for normal thyroid function and very important in brain development. We need not finish a kilo or one whole crab. It is wholesome to eat just the right amount and share the rest to others. Meat besides protein also provides iron. There are many other trace elements that we get if we continue to eat the good food that we used to . . . just stick to the right amount. When we are of age we should remember not eat meat too much and very often. More vegetable is better.