Since joining the American Diabetes Association in June, I think about my health differently as I internalize our mission to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by the disease. I want my actions to represent the health and wellness that the Association stands for—not just for people with diabetes, but all Americans.
But this has not always been the case. About eight years ago, my doctor diagnosed me with prediabetes. I was told I might not see my 45th birthday if I continued on the same path of overeating and lack of exercise. There it was: the wakeup call, in fact a blaring siren, I needed to start making the right choices.
I began to work with my doctor to create a plan for my health needs and goals, which included thinking about portions and the ingredients I chose. I also made a commitment to move and work out regularly. It didn’t happen overnight, but I took on the challenge of putting myself first. The changes to my lifestyle added up, and I lost 120 pounds. Now Elizabeth, my wife calls me her second husband!
I still struggle with balance, especially as a busy professional, but I have the right priorities now and a reason to stay motivated—keeping type 2 diabetes at bay and “walking the walk” here at my job. And I know it all starts with the types of food I put on my plate each day!
As we enter the second half of Hispanic Heritage Month, I am reminded of the health disparities that exist in America and the Association’s increased focus on education and awareness in minority communities nationwide. I’m thinking about my friends in the Latino community, especially since Latinos are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to non-Latino whites.
As part of our outreach to, and celebration of, this Latino community, the Association developed a digital Create Your Plate. This interactive tool takes foods commonly available in the Latino community and allows users to choose the proteins, starchy foods and non-starchy veggies they love to build a balanced meal. Try it out and let me know what you think! What I love about the Create Your Plate method is that it’s a quick, visual way to make sure my portions are in check at every meal.
But we don’t want you to stop there! Create your own healthy meals at home and post them to social media using #CreateYourPlate. Share it with the world and be proud of the wellness in your life. Then challenge your friends, family members and coworkers to do the same. We’ll display our favorite photos in a gallery on our Hispanic Heritage Month page along with other resources, such as healthy recipes and tips for healthy eating.
I shared my own plate to Twitter and Instagram using #CreateYourPlate, so look for it in the social media gallery!
Through small but conscious decisions, we can eat well and take time to enjoy our food and the people we share it with. These efforts can lead to profound changes, just as I’ve seen in my own life.
I’ll be looking for your plate pictures online!