Cultivating Healthy Eating Habits with a Filipino family

As a first generation Filipino-American, most of the cuisine prepared at my home follows the three principles of filipino cooking…”never cook any food by itself, fry with garlic in olive oil or lard, and foods should have a sour-cool-salty taste” (Adoption Nutrition, 2017). I can say that when my mom & dad cooks rice and veggies, they will mostly load up on garlic, so at times I would be tired of that rich garlic taste that I just want to eat my food plain!

Looking back, it has definitely been a struggle for me to balance healthy eating into my Filipino culture because I would be drawn to these high-fat, high-cholesterol meals that I wouldn’t care if it was healthy or not – it tastes good! A typical breakfast in the Philippines consists of garlic fried rice, fish, eggs, fish, sausage or any kind of meat. Sweet cheesy bread rolls called ensaymada are also a common breakfast staple in the Philippines, that even to this day I may dig in once in a while whenever it’s at the breakfast table…super delicious!

Half of my life, I didn’t care what I ate because it was all too good. Being raised by two parents whose home was in the Philippines, much of our meals were Filipino. However, something came into me around middle/high school & I decided eating healthier is one of the core elements to living a longer and happier life. Although Filipino cuisine has a lot of high-fat & high-cholesterol foods, they’re also known for their abundance of fresh fruits & veggies. If you walk into a Filipino supermarket, many of the stands are filled with them, as well as in the Philippines…with families selling their own home-grown fruits/veggies. So it is indeed possible to live a healthy life being raised in a Filipino upbringing. Something as simple as telling your parents you want to incorporate a nutrient-dense salad with the pancit (noodles) or creating a vegan alternative to a dessert are one of the many ways to incorporate something healthy to the table.

However, the one biggest thing that is definitely important in cultivating eating habits is to not worry SO MUCH as to what you are eating that it turns into an obsession…sure, we must all be aware of what we put into our bodies, no doubt! Eating is part of the culture & it’s all about togetherness, so it’s okay to have that adobo chicken with rice or leche flan with your favorite ice cream (once in a while)!

<3,
Merilyn

Source: Philippines. (n.d.). Retrieved July 17, 2017, from http://adoptionnutrition.org/nutrition-by-country/philippines/. 

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