by Cindy Figueroa
There are not many things in life that get me upset. I like to think that I am open-minded and respectful of people’s lifestyle choices but I can admit that my stomach churns when I see people suffering from unnecessary disease. And mostly when I hear people say, “It doesn’t matter what I eat, I’m still going to be/get obese/diabetes/etc. anyway” or “We’re all going to die anyway.” Wow. Really?? I have to be brutally honest here, but that mentality and lifestyle sounds like a form of suicide to me. Yes, suicide! Realize that we are contributing to our own demise and debilitating ourselves with these types of views on healthcare. During one of my most recent trips to my parent’s hometown in Mexico, while doing our rounds of visits, I was astonished and pained by seeing how many people were suffering from complications of diabetes. I witnessed people, of all ages, going blind, deaf, losing limbs, everything. I wonder how many people find it more worthy to pass on a healthy life, free of health related burden because the urges for poor lifestyle choices are too strong to contain. I know it’s not always easy, I’m human too, but some sacrifices are just necessary. And to me, a healthy agile life is worth some sacrificing! I want the ability to go hiking, ride my bike along the beach path, chase after my nieces, and live a long healthy life with my family well into my 80s maybe even 90s. Why not?? We only have one life! It’s not just about being skinny nor having a summer body, it’s about gaining health and enjoying every benefit of it.
This leads me to my second point, a very important point. It’s about familial diseases or as we like to say, “It runs in my family”. Although the popular social media meme “Diabetes doesn’t run in your family, your family doesn’t run” is pretty funny, it is also quite true. Truth is, some people may have a strong genetic basis for illnesses, such as diabetes, but study after study show that other factors such as obesity and sedentary lifestyle are bigger contributors.
Moreover, the occurrence of multiple cases in a family may reflect shared environmental risk factors, such as obesity and sedentary lifestyle, and does not imply necessarily the sharing of a diabetes gene. – Joslin Diabetes Center
Chances are it is lifestyle habits that are carried over from generation to generation that contribute to the diseases common in each family. It’s what you eat, how you cook, and your relationship with food that could make the difference in your family, or just each person individually. I come from a family were diabetes and cancer are too common and it breaks my heart just thinking about the family members we’ve lost to these diseases. But at the same time I am grateful that at one point in her life my mother learned about healthy eating and diverted us from the possibility of developing these diseases. She broke habits embedded in her and in her family by tradition and culture and set a new standard for her future offspring. She may not see it this way, but she pretty much gave us a new start.
That’s where my call to action comes in, where I ask you to think about a few things from now on. I would like for you to think about the decisions you make when you eat. Realize that what you eat not only affects you but the child sitting next to you, and their children, and so forth. I’d like you to realize that you’re not just putting food into a child’s mouth, but that everything that goes into their mouth affects their body. The process to develop disease may be slow and you may not have to worry about it immediately, but the food you feed your children is contributing to their overall health. All I’m asking is that you keep these things in mind as you move forward.