During a visit to Manila, I pledged to help an elderly aunt with her medical expenses. She had recently been diagnosed with diabetes.
When I arrived home in California, I received a text message indicating that the pills would cost around $150 per month. I dutifully sent the money for three months, until I received some unpleasant feedback from my brother whom I assigned to deliver the pledged amount.
My brother said, “Hindi naman nag-iingat sa pagkain si Tita, dahil may gamot naman daw,” (Auntie is not being careful with what she eats… said she has medication, anyway).
Reading someone’s travel blog last night, I came across the very same attitude toward healthy eating. I will let this photo speak for itself.
Hippocrates, father of medicine, (c. 360 – c.470 B.C), lived to the ripe old age of 90 years. He had wise advice to patients, among which is, “Let your food be your medicine.”
Simply put, this means that we should try to get nutrients from the foods we eat, rather than relying on pills.
Diabetes is a widespread problem nowadays. Readers’ Digest/Best Health listed today the top 20 foods for beating diabetes. I have selected five that are easily accessible in the Philippines. You don’t have to eat these everyday, but occasionally giving your body the benefits of their nutrients will help keep your diabetes in check.
AVOCADO. Some food writers compare this fruit to butter because of its smooth consistency. Try to eat it by the spoonful, without adding sugar and milk. Or, slice it thinly and use as a sandwich filling.
Where I live in northern California, avocado costs at least $1 each; folks in the Philippines have it really good, because the cost per kilo is so affordable.
The word avocado derived from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs in Mexico. They called it ahuacatl.
BEANS. There are many of these you can consume: sitaw, bataw, patani. I can just picture a serving of bulanglang, pinakbet, adobong sitaw, or Bicol Express. Yum!
Sitaw is also known as long beans; some really long varieties are called yard-long beans.
Bataw and patani are known as Lima beans, according to my favorite reference for Philippine fruits and vegetables, http://www.stuartxchange.com. Lima beans are so-called because the first commercial shipment to the U.S. came from Lima, Peru.
CARROTS. I suggest you learn to eat this veggie in stick form; it’s kinda like a crunchy potato chip, and it’s better for you. You don’t need to peel the carrot; just wash it well, cut into 3- or 4-inch sticks, and store in a zip lock bag in the fridge or bring with you to work or school.
When you see it in pancit, chopsuey, or afritada, don’t push it to the side of the plate; eat it with the rest of the food. It seems we don’t have a Pilipino term for carrot; it’s called zanahoria in Mexican Spanish. Good thing, the name didn’t travel to the Philippines during the Galleon Trade!
And here’s a bit of trivia for you: the carrot is native to Afghanistan.
NUTS. Peanuts and cashew are good for keeping diabetes in check. Peanut butter in a sandwich counts, of course. It’s also okay to lick a spoon of peanut butter, the way you make papak while watching TV or doing your homework.
Have you heard that the peanut is neither a pea nor a nut? It’s a legume!
And the cashew (caju to a tribe in South America) is often regarded as a curiosity because the seed is outside the fruit, which is the yellow, fleshy portion.
SWEET POTATO. Eat some kamote! Get the yellow or orange variety if you can. Washed and dried, you can have it ready to eat after five minutes in the microwave oven. Split it, put some butter or margarine, and you have a quick snack. You can even bring a raw kamote to work, and cook it in the office microwave.
Spanishdict.com has this advice: Don’t put sugar on the sweet potato; it’s already sweet! To this I add: if you have diabetes, try to avoid the street food kamote cue because the crunchy coating is obviously not good for you.