Beginning a new year has many of us pledging to change our diet so we can lose a few pounds. But eating healthier food is so much more than just maintaining and managing our weight. For better or worse, everything we eat and drink has an impact on our bodies and well-being. Our bodies depend on the food we eat to create energy, function properly, fight infections, and repair itself when there has been some damage. The human body is a beautiful machine that can achieve incredible feats when given nutritious foods regularly.
Health conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and some cancers are directly related to our diets. Lack of nutritional education and inexperience in food preparation contributes to poor eating habits and increases the risk of developing chronic diseases caused by diet.
"Having access to daily meals is just one part of the equation to improve the health of the people we serve," says Hilda Ayala, program director at the Regional Food Bank in Los Angeles. "The Regional Food Bank in Los Angeles recognizes the importance of educating the community about what types of food are beneficial in treating certain conditions and demonstrating how to easily prepare meals with these ingredients."
The Regional Food Bank of Los Angeles offers ongoing nutrition education programs, such as Food Pharmacy and Community Pantry Gourmet, taught by Comprehensive Health Specialist Dr. Desmonette Hazly. These programs focus on incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into simple recipes, spiced with herbs and spices, to create high nutritional value meals that also help combat multiple health problems. Dr. Hazly provides nutritional education based on the results of medical research that she has led with the help of the UCLA Biomedical Library and other medical and academic institutions. Dr. Hazly believes that "having the knowledge and skills of combining several healthy ingredients to prepare meals that can help manage chronic health problems can have a lifelong positive effect on the quality of life and well-being of many people in our community."
Dr. Hazly has some helpful tips when creating your own healing meals:
- Talk to your doctor and become aware of any health problems you may have. Discuss with your doctor your interest in changing your diet.
- If you take medication, you should learn which foods could have an adverse reaction to your medications.
- Research and make a list of foods, herbs, and spices that you would like to try and that may be beneficial to your health.
- When looking for recipes that include beneficial and healthy ingredients, choose recipes that are simple to follow and have few ingredients.
- Finally, don't be afraid to try new foods and ingredients. Eating should not only improve and maintain good health, but it can also be a pleasant adventure.