It's about 10:30 a.m. as of this writing, which means there are probably hundreds of women (and men!) repeatedly glancing at the clock and unable to focus on the task at hand. There's an hour and a half left before noon—a.k.a. the time of the day when they can finally sink their teeth into their first meal of the day and fuel their bodies and minds to complete the week's to-do list.
Sure, skipping breakfast, coffee and all, might be an effective weight loss diet for some, and that's not a problem. But how fun is it, really, to have to exert that much self-control when you're dreaming of early morning meals you're missing out on (rice and ulam? What about crispy on the outside-doughy on the inside bread with yolky egg and smooth avo? Yogurt and fruit bowl? Savory crepe with some cheese and salmon slices?), or worse, when you're surrounded by people actually enjoying breakfast, one mouthful at a time.
Raise your hand if home quarantine has not been good for your food-related frustration.
But that's exactly what we wanted to talk to you about.
Staying healthy—and feeling good about sticking to the habits that keep you healthy—shouldn't feel like torture!
The goals of diet and nutrition (which, no matter what regimen you subscribe to, are keeping your body and mind fit) shouldn't be overshadowed by the burdens of deprivation and sacrifice. Of course, staying healthy is a "no pain, no gain" situation even for the biggest health buffs there are, but there are ways to make the process enjoyable and feel that you're making progress more than you are being subjected to endless agony (can you smell the aroma of garlicky goodness wafting towards you from your kitchen?).
We had a conversation with Doctors John La Puma, Rico Jose Manuel B. David a.k.a. Dok Bok, and Oyie Balburias as well as wellness-focused entrepreneurs Tanya Maria Aguila and JP Alipio, and publisher Bea Ledesma to come up with advice just for you, as each of them shared their personal health journeys as well as current research in the field.
Backed up by their expertise and firsthand experiences, they guarantee that this love-hate relationship with dieting, fitness, and health need not exist. It can be all love, with no space for hate—plus lots of room for delicious meals and a stomach and tastebuds that will thank you for it!
Scroll through the gallery below to see what they had to say about diet and nutrition tips that aren't only yummy and good for you, but practical, efficient, and sustainable enough for you to keep practicing for a lifetime!
Tips and tricks for eating right and sustaining the habit
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Dr. La Puma says:
Food is medicine. And coming from a doctor, that's wonderful news! Though 21st society has blessed us all with modern medicine, we should minimize our dependency on synthetic drugs and supplements to keep us healthy. The real magic is in food—eating clean, eating right, being conscious of what you put in your body. It's an ancient tradition that's so deeply rooted in Asian cultures, including that of Filipinos', and we've seem to have forgotten about the healing properties that different ingredients, proportions of ingredients and their combinations, as well as their methods of cooking possess. Turning to natural remedies in replacement of manufactured drugs is not a new, trendy health practice. Your lola did it, your lola's lola did it, and your ancestors from centuries back depended on exactly this to keep them healthy. Now is a good time to rediscover this practice!
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In relation to discovering the healing properties of food, Dr. La Puma has specific herbs and ingredients for you to explore: cruciferous veggies (bok choy, broccoli, watercress, arugula) detoxify the liver, rosemary leaves and thyme prohibit cancer-causing chemicals created by grilling meat (make sure to rub your steaks with these herbs!), oregano is antibacterial, turmeric prevents pre-diabetes features from becoming full-fledged diabetes, and cinnamon can lower blood sugar for some people. Bone broth soup, on the other hand, also contains some amount of collagen that's great for (you guessed it) skincare.
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Dr. Oyie says:
Staying fit isn't just a problem of food and/or exercise these days. It's a lifestyle issue. Our jobs, extracurriculars, Netflix, Instagram, and much of our lives' activities have disturbed our body's chronobiological processes. It's a big word but let's use context clues: chrono relates to time, and bio means life. Taken together, chronobiology is associated with our body's rhythms that follow the natural rhythms of day and night, and how modern living has disrupted this flow. Now how does this relate to food and fitness, exactly? Well, reflect on this: the body is designed to be asleep by 11 p.m., awake by 6 a.m., and that the stomach stops digesting food by 9 p.m. These metabolic and sleep patterns relate to when we feel hungry and when we should fuel our bodies for the day ahead. Disrupt the patterns and you could very well put yourself at risk of starting the deadly binge-purge cycle. See, food isn't always to blame, and rarely is it only ever a matter of food alone. Ponder on your lifestyle-is it getting in the way of you learning how to eat properly?
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Dok Bok says:
Count the colors on your plate-literally. You don't need to be an expert in nutrition to know you're on the right path if, in at least one meal a day, your plate has the colors of the rainbow. That means a variety of foods have been incorporated, and each of them provide you with different kinds of wholesomeness (think fiber, vitamins, minerals, nutrients, all the good stuff you want to be feeding your body).
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Dok Bok has an even bigger challenge for existing veggie-eaters. He goes for at least nine cups (you read that right!) of veggies a day, with most of them comprised of deep green leafy veggies. Given that our daily consumption of veggies should be this much and actually even more, he strongly suggests blending a part of it in a smoothie-it's a great way to introduce greens to the veggie-averse, too! Blend them with a probiotic or some thickening fruit or apple to sweeten them and you're good to go.
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Tanya, OneLife Studio founder, says:
Let's face it. This dieting business is a real pain for Filipinos, because food is so central to everything we do! It's even more stressful to diet these days as most people have been working from home and are surrounded by non-dieting family members 24/7. It sucks to the only one who can't and won't eat when merienda is served. The solution isn't to give up on dieting or lock yourself away, but to work the other way around. Get the whole family in on healthy eating, as that's exactly what she did. Now she didn't force a particular diet on her husband and mom and dad, only, she took charge of meal prepping and gradually introducing them to healthier versions of food they love to eat as a family. Dieting need not be equated to deprivation while non-dieters are allowed to indulge. Dieting, or rather wholesome eating, can be a family activity. When start feeling better and noticing physical effects of more wholesome meals, they'll thank you for it-and you'll have much less problems about adhering to a regimen when everyone at home is on it together!
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JP Alipio, National Geographic Explorer and Cordillera Conservation Trust co-founder, says:
There are no "enemy foods." When it comes to healing your body the natural way, fat and red meat are not the enemy, and neither are carbs-the most common offenders in the dieter's mind. However, proportions do matter. His golden ratio is 70:30, with 70 being veggies and 30 being meat or other sources of protein. If totally eliminating steak or white rice pains you, worry not. You don't have to. You'll have to be conscious of how much of it in one go, but they're very much still allowed to be part of your life.
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JP adds another tip: for athletes training for a competition or those who often do intense workouts, veggies are a better post-exercise food than meats. It counters common knowledge that meat equals protein equals better for muscle repair and strength. But did you know that meat hampers recovery, instead of hastening it, because it inflames muscles that have become sore in a workout? Veggies, on the other hand, have anti-inflammatory properties and can therefore aid in making you feel less sore, recover from soreness faster, and make you feel lighter on your feet.
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Discover new ways for preparing and consuming veggies. If you can, use the whole plant! That's because you might be missing out on wholesome eats if, for example, you only eat the celery stalk but chuck out the leaves, or just the broccoli/cauliflower top and not the stalk. If this is something you do, the rude awakening is that you not only literally throw away perfectly good sources of nutrients for your body, but you're also being wasteful. When you prepare recipes with veggies, learn about ways to preserve them from leaf to stem (and even root!). The final stage is often a breakfast omelette, casserole, soup, or stew, but creative hands in the kitchen can surely find ways to prepare them deliciously. Oh and don't forget-you can make smoothies so as not to waste anything, too!
There's another discovery we made in the context of speaking to all these health experts.
If you haven't yet heard of it, now is a good time to get up to speed on Sekaya raw actives, powdered nutrient-dense superfoods that are easily mixed in with dishes, smoothies, and beverages without altering the way they taste. There are six different varieties, and each target a unique set of health concerns, so really, there's something for everyone! Our favorite part about them definitely has to be how there's a mixture for every day living, and others that have more targeted benefits.