Monday, June 18, 2012

Diabetic ProStart student finds healthy eating a must

The Spring 2012 issue of the Louisiana Restaurant Association's A La Carte magazine featured several Q & A style articles designed to provoke, and perhaps inspire restaurateurs, to consider their own meal choices and what they offer on their menus for their health conscious patrons.

The LRA is a supporter of the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell which has seen an outstanding number--96 to date representing 15,000 locations--of restaurants sign on and commit to offering parents and children more healthful options and information so they can make choices that are right for their families.

Launched by the National Restaurant Association in 2011,
the program Kids LiveWell received the Gold Circle Award
by the ASAE for media relations campaign. More than 15,000
restaurant locations have signed on, committing to
offer more healthy options for children.
The focus on obesity is nearly fanatical in its media coverage in American these days. A quick Google news search this morning using the keyword “obesity” yielded 67,000 recent articles on the topic.
Leading the search was articles covering the potential link between childhood obesity and bullying followed by New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s crusade against sodas exceeding 16 ounces in size.

A new study released today by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine states that the average global body weight is 137 pounds, with North America’s average weight topping the scales at 178 pounds. The study finds that although the U.S. accounts for only a five percent of the global population, our collective weight is that of a third of all human beings walking the earth. On the global scale, the population is 17 million tons overweight, which has the same impact on our global resources as an extra half a billion people.
But where does the nanny state end and one’s personal responsibility to one’s own health and well-being begin. Aren’t we all responsibility for our health and happiness?

Through the LRA Education Foundation's ProStart program, offered in nearly 50 high schools in Louisiana, food and nutrition are explored as part of the dynamic curriculum. Meet Ben Eckelson. We learned of Eckelson in researching this topic who is a ProStart student at Hammond High Magnet School. Eckelson was diagnosed with diabetes and at his heaviest weighed 275 lbs.
Now, after exercise, a diet plan and work with a dietician, he's down to 180 lbs and has found his new lifestyle offers diversity and excitement.
Ben Eckelson has committed himself and
his health to a new lifestyle
given his diabetes diagnois.

ALC: How has healthy eating changed your life?

BE: Being a diabetic, I have a specialized diet plan that includes reading nutritional information and keeping track of my carbohydrate intake.

ALC: Where your motivations for health or lifestyle reasons?

BE: I am motivated to stay healthy because of my diabetes, but have also found motivation because I want to make a difference in the way my generation treats their bodies. My dream is to see people living a more healthful life. My choices have given me a greater self-worth. It’s helpful for those struggling with weight and their choices to know that they are not alone.

ALC: What are your favorite healthy items to eat at home and in a restaurant?

BE: It may seem cliché but I am a fruit and vegetables guy! My ideal meal includes whole wheat pasta tossed with an oil-based dressing with grilled chicken, a tossed blue cheese and spinach salad and a grilled fruit salad. But I do occasionally splurge and indulge in white chocolate bread pudding. In moderation, my diet is really easy.

ALC: Do you feel restaurant menus are limited in their healthy menu offerings?

BE: Many restaurants have made an effort to provide targeted health conscious food options, however without moderate portion sizes, most options are worse than the food they may already serve. I applaud the effort of restaurants that promote healthier choices.

ALC: When a server offers side items, do you think that offering healthy options first prior to French fries results in you ordering the healthy option?

BE: I definitely think that would make a great difference in my selection. 

ALC: How has the ProStart program raised your awareness of healthy eating and wellness?

BE: The ProStart program has given me such great opportunities which have led to my passion for making the world a healthier place. I would like to thank my ProStart teacher Mrs. Johnson for guiding me through the best experiences I have had in my life. Her selfless dedication has made an immeasurable impact in my life and she has inspired me to be a better person and embrace healthier living.

Do health concerns factor into your menu item selections?  Does personal responsibility factor into your choices of foods you eat?

1 comment:

  1. There are many restaurants that are looking to the health of their customers that's why they will serve the best and fresh foods to them but eating at home is still the best way for healthy eating.