Nutritionist, author, caterer and chef to the stars Chef LaLa is the ultimate Hispanic businesswoman
Editor’s note: Chef LaLa the Consumate Hispanic Businesswoman is part two of a two part interview series… here’s Chef LaLa Part 1
You emphasize nutritious, healthy eating, how do you educate Americans regarding the fat-ladden fare typical of chain restaurants?
Take control of YOUR life.
I get this all the time, and I tell them the same thing-learn how to read the nutritional label. A lot of people pay close attention to the grade of gasoline that is going into their car, but they won’t do the same for their body. And guess what, you can trade that car in. A lot of times people do not realize that there is a simple explanation for why people gain weight: they consume more calories than their bodies need.
When you’re not burning enough calories through your daily activities, your body stores that unused energy as fat. And for approximately every 3,500 calories that you consume but don’t use, you gain one pound. But healthy is not only about weight, it’s also about the quality of food you consume. An example is my little sister.
She took my advice of eating breakfast, so she stopped at a fast-food place. Her breakfast choices included a double sandwich, hash browns, sweet bread with icing (of course), and a small milkshake. This was a total of, 400 calories and 136 grams of fat (including 46 grams of saturated fat, and 46 grams of trans fats)! How did I know the totals? They are listed on the back of the tray liner they give every person with their order.
She was exceeding her daily caloric intake by 1,000 calories, so technically not only was she spent for the day, but if she ate nothing else each day (which would be bad for her), she would still gain one pound every four days. She was astonished at the math.
Now she tries paying attention to her calories, walks for at least 3o minutes per day, along with following a reduced calorie diet (a deficit of 5oo calories per day) and she is losing the weight in a healthy manner. Most importantly, make your foods count; know what they are doing for you, how many nutrients (vitamins and minerals) you are getting from each bite. Take CONTROL of YOUR choices.
As a certified nutritionist, how do you suggest parents address the epidemic of childhood obesity in the US?
Here are some scary numbers: one out of five children in the U.S. is overweight or at risk of being overweight. This is not about appearance or just a little “gordito.” This is about children suffering (notice I said suffering) from morbidities (diseases associated with) of obesity. The parent and the child must be ready to make changes in behavior. In some cases, particularly for smart children, intervening with parents alone may be effective.
In these cases, emphasis is put on things that parents have control over-the food environment of the home (e.g. what foods are available in the home), family eating behaviors (e.g. limiting eating out, serving portions from the kitchen instead of self-service at the dinner table), and parental responses to child behaviors (e.g. giving food contingent on behavior, i.e., candy when good, deprivation when bad). Parents need to be conscious of what their kids eat when at school.
The most important factor that I believe contributes to poor eating in children is that the parents forget that they are the parents. My mom never handed me a menu; I ate what was served on the kitchen table and she dictated what was considered “normal”-in our case a well balanced meal, not take-out.
Hispanic businesswoman as an author- Tell us about your first book, Latin lover lite.
Part of the title “Latin Lover” says it all. I feel that as Latinos we have a love affair with food. Cooking a great meal can show how much you love someone, I know that is what we do in our family. But at the same time, I lost three of my four grandparents to complications of diabetes. So that kind of love can be a double-edged sword if we don’t make it healthy, or in this case “Lite.” See, you can have it all, Latin flavored healthy cuisine!