Cultural Nutrition and Fitness
Updated: Apr 18
Here are my notes for my presentation at the 2nd Annual Multicultural Health Fair - Building Health and Wellness with Diversity:). Funded by the Government of Ontario, the Regional HIV/AIDS Connections and It Takes Courage, the event is a holistic approach to health and well-being focussed on building individual and community resilience. There was engaging discussions, wellness activities including yoga, cultural dance performances and foods from Africa.
Last year it was held at Museum London which was beautiful but this year it was held at Innovation Works which is this amazing space for networking and interaction and was like having a conversation instead of "presenting". Definitely one of my fave events to share at.
Basic Nutrition 101
Macronutrients - The energy or calories in the food we eat comes from three macronutrients: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Macro mean large and these basic nutrients are necessary in large quantities to sustain our growth, metabolism, and other bodily functions.
Carbohydrates: Despite their sometimes poor reputation, when consumed from healthy sources, carbs are essential and should supply 45 to 65 percent [of] a client’s daily calorie needs, depending on their specific goals. Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products
*Conversation Point - professional intervention is good when advising clients who have or are predisposed to cardiovascular conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure etc.
Fat: Fat is essential for the body to function properly. Healthy fats help with vitamin absorption, supply the body with essential fatty acids it doesn’t make [by] itself, and gives the foods we love the flavor and texture that makes them so enjoyable. That said, not all fats are equal. It’s best to replace as much saturated fat (meat, butter, cream) and trans fat (found in processed, pre-packaged foods, fast food, and some margarines) with the healthier plant-based unsaturated fats (found in foods like nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc.).
*Conversation Point - Today's menu, plantain chips were fried in olive oil.
Protein: Protein breaks down in the gut into amino acids and utilized as building blocks. Protein helps to repair all tissues like muscle, bone, skin, etc,” and is also used in making essential hormones and enzymes that support your immune system. When used as an energy source by the body, it’s typically because the carbohydrate and fat storage in the body has been depleted to the point where protein is necessary to continue to maintain normal functioning.
Some foods that contain them would be: Meats, Eggs, Milk, Yogurt
*Conversation Point - muscle striations in a long distance runner.
Micronutrients are one of the major groups of nutrients your body needs. They include vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting and other functions. Minerals play an important role in growth, bone health, fluid balance and several other processes.
*Conversation Point - professional intervention is good when advising clients who have or are predisposed to deficiencies or require additional supplementation beyond standard (ie. bone or iron supplement)
Water - Our body is made up of 70% water and although plain water has no calories and is not a source of fat, protein or carbohydrates, it does absorb certain minerals and delivers them to your body when you drink.
*Conversation Point - Water and how it cleanses, skin ... play the "How Old is Michelle" Game lol - they never guess haha
All cultural diets contain the above* and so the question is: How do I apply this to reaching my fitness goals of:
Improve/Enhance Performance and/or Daily Function
General Health & Wellness
*Conversation Point - it's North American diets that are predominantly processed, genetically modified etc., cultural diets tend to be healthier but just need "tweaking" (ie. sauces, how they're prepared etc.), also times have changed and have changed us and how we tolerate foods
When going for a fitness/wellness consultation be sure that the following is addressed:
Who - gender, age, culture and beliefs around food and exercise, genetics, allergies, current habits *Conversation Point - share my background (Jamaican, British), age, predispositions (anemia, fibroids/hormones)
What - current diet and exercise, goals
Where - where are meals being consumed? In or out of the home? On the road?
When - Time of meals/snacks/water consumed daily, weekly, special occasions
How - how are you physically eating (chewing, breathing, speed), how is your digestion generally how much/portions and how often are you eating? how is your food prepared for the most part - fresh? processed?
Why - why do you make the food choices that you do? What is a good food day for you? A bad one?
*Conversation around how food from home land makes you feel, traditions around meals (big, family gathering, large portions, shows love), physical activity different here than if in home land (office work vs physical, outdoors)
A good trainer/coach/wellness consultant will then advise:
Who - medical/professional advice regarding diet if pre-existing conditions (ie. MD, dietician)
What - follow basic nutrition 101 and vary for goals
Where - meal planning, prep
When - timing in relation to goals, strategies for success in harder situations, journaling
How - mindful eating (slow down, chew food, healthier food preparation)
Why - huge! relationship with food needs to be addressed
As with everything, being mindful is key, using common sense and seeking out credible and professional advise for your personal situations and goals.
Wait for applause ... there it is ... I am happy. Hahaha
If you would like a speaker on health, fitness & wellness for an event, feel free to contact me and I LOVE being involved in the community:).
Interested in a fitness/wellness consultation or have some questions about nutrition and your current fitness program? Join any of my groups online (Facebook) and/or pick up my book, How to be Fit for Life - Eight Proven Steps to Reaching Your Fitness Goals, Getting Results, and Living the Fitness Life for more help with your fitness journey. And please feel free to contact me and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have:).