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Benefits of eating healthy

Forty percent of Bahamian adults are obese
Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Sep 24, 2013

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What does eating healthy mean to you? That was a question I asked myself before I started writing this piece. Eating healthy food and having a healthy diet are two different things.

The Bahamas Diabetes Association reported last year that more than 35,000 Bahamians, at that time, had diabetes.

The association said while 10 percent of the Bahamian population has diabetes, 30 percent of adults are overweight and 40 percent are obese and both groups are at risk of developing diabetes.

The association added that diabetes is considered the fifth leading cause of death in The Bahamas.

So ask yourself, as I asked myself, how many times a week do you eat fast food? How much soda and alcohol do you consume? Now think about the amount of greens you eat. Are fruits, vegetables, nuts and other healthy foods a part of your diet?

Melissa Butler, 28, has been a pescatarian for 14 years. Pescatarians practice a diet that includes seafood and dairy, but not other meat.

“I was in grade 9 when I decided to stop eating meat,” she said.

“I did it to see if I could stop eating meat. I didn’t like how I felt eating chicken.

“So I gave myself a timeline to stop eating it. After a month, I tried to eat meat again and I had such a bad experience eating it – my skin broke out and I felt like I ate a full meal when I didn’t. I felt gross.”

Butler said since then she’s stuck to a diet of seafood, dairy, nuts, vegetables and fruits, although she points out that in The Bahamas that was a hard task.

“There aren’t a lot of options,” she said.

“Whereas anyone can stop and get something from Bamboo Shack, the only thing from there is greasy conch and fries. The only healthy meatless options are salads and pasta dishes.

“Whatever is healthy and meatless is extremely expensive, though I have to admit that what I found over the last couple of years is that there are a few businesses that have more vegetarian options. More and more, people are following this lifestyle, so it’s not as hard as it was say five or 10 years ago.”

Grace Thomas, 30, a vegetarian of eight years, said consumers should know what they are putting in their bodies before eating anything.

“I was taking an introduction to biology course in college that was dealing with chronic diseases,” Thomas said.

“All of the research that we studied with the class suggested that people who are vegetarian have a lower risk for those diseases – diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Because of my family history with diabetes, it made me want to reconsider my eating habits.”

Thomas, who was studying in Canada at the time, said it was easier to be a vegetarian there than in The Bahamas.

“When you have a job, you have to prepare and plan in advance so you don’t fall into the trap of fast food and convenient food.”

And just what does it mean to eat healthy for Thomas?

“To me I feel that it is the best gift you can give to yourself,” she said.

“I think a lot of people are unaware of what they put into their bodies.

“We don’t realize all the chemicals and additives that are in processed food. People don’t realize the food choices they make correlates with chronic diseases.

“We have to make the best choices to eat better.”


• Note: Some names in the article have been changed.


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