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Personalize your plate with cultural foods

cultural foods

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage month, I have prepared a special blog to recognize the importance of different cultures and provide some ideas about how to include them in our everyday meals.

Balancing our meals is very important, but it is also important to consider that healthy eating can look different across varying ethno-cultural communities and geographical locations based on food accessibility, sustainability, and food culture. Culture influences our daily food choices and eating patterns, and nutrition advice needs to be tailored to fit the client’s lifestyle, living conditions, and dietary needs.

As the world becomes globalized and we surround ourselves with people from different places that have different stories, food becomes an important way to connect. Food is intimate and a big part of people’s identities, including traditions and practices which provide a deep connection to the community and play a major role in dietary adherence and success.

Different cultures tend to use different ingredients including fruits, vegetables, grains herbs, and spices. All of these can be included in a healthy and balanced plate that will honor your traditions while bringing nourishment to your body.

How to personalize your plate:

  • • Start incorporating your cultural foods in your diet by using the food group (carbohydrates, fats, and protein) classifications. For example: In Mexico, tortillas are a main component of native fare. Tortillas, whether flour or corn, belong to the carbohydrate or starch group. In other cultures, like Peru, potatoes or rice would take that place. Therefore, when you are building your plate and choose your starch you can use any of the foods that are part of your culture and belong to that food group.
  • • Make sure you continue to follow healthy recommendations such as choosing lean proteins and healthy cooking techniques such as grilling or baking instead of frying.
  • • Experiment with different products and alternate as much as you like. This will increase variety and nutrient intake.
  • • If you are feeling adventurous, include other foods from different cultures in your plate.  Discovering new flavors can be a fun activity to do with your family or even by yourself.

Eating cultural foods can take us back to earlier, comforting times in our lives.  Indulging this concept is also part of a healthy lifestyle.

Lastly, consider your individual nutritional needs.  If you are not sure or you have special nutritional requirements, consult with a registered dietitian.