It doesn’t have to be this way. And celebrity chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, better known as Chef Leticia, is on a mission to change this mindset so Latinos can lead healthy and more productive lives.
Recently, Chef Leticia hit the road to let people know they can still enjoy good food while eating healthy. It’s an issue that hits close to home for the Brazilian chef, as her grandfather died of complications caused by type 2 diabetes. After his death, Leticia’s family decided a change was needed. Since then she has teamed up with pharmaceutical company, Merck, to promote a public education campaign, Cuida tu Diabetes, Cuida tu Corazón, about the dangers of the high rate of type 2 diabetes in the Latino community.
“Latinos are at high risk of diabetes. We don’t want to give up the food that we love, especially when that is what connects us to our culture,” said Chef Leticia. “As a chef and a cookbook author, I know we can make small changes that will lead to a healthier lifestyle. Our goal is to empower the Latino community to take control of diabetes.”
Through the campaign, Chef Leticia encourages Latinos to visit their doctors or community health centers and come up with a plan that works for them. Traditional Latino recipes and tips for living a healthier lifestyle, all of which are bilingual, are available as well.Eating healthy, however, can be a challenge, especially for many in our community who may not have the resources or even the knowledge about how to start. At NCLR, we’ve been working hard to spread the same message as Chef Leticia’s through Comprando Rico y Sano, a program that educates Latinos on how to make healthy choices when grocery shopping. Chef Leticia also offers some tips of her own to families wanting to give their kids healthier food options.
“One of the things I try to encourage people to do is cook at home,” said Chef Leticia. “I know we all have stressful lives, but cooking at home is one of the most important things we can do for our well-being. The cost of eating out is not only hard on your pocketbook, but also on your health.”
The chef stresses the need for portion control. One easy change we can all make, she says, is to serve our food on smaller plates. This helps greatly in reducing and controlling portion sizes.
Finally, Chef Leticia says families need to shop together. Families that shop together become families that cook together, a crucial element for healthier living. She even offers some insight into how to shop strategically.
“The perimeter aisles are where you’ll find all the healthy foods. The middle aisles are where you’ll find the villains,” said Chef Leticia. “Stay away from the middle aisles, where they sell the junk.”
With these smart tips and our own programs aimed at improving the health of our community, we can ensure a long-lasting, happier, and healthier Latino population.