In doing the SWOT analysis, we’ve assessed our Strengths and Weaknesses. These are internal factors that would affect our dietary and lifestyle modification program and goals.
For the next two days, we will assess the external factors that could help or deter us from achieving our mission. O stands for Opportunities.
In 2010, when I injured my back at work after I lifted the leg of a 300-pound patient, my life drastically changed. Even after eight weeks of rehab, the pain persisted and stayed with me for seven years. I couldn’t lift a bag of groceries from the trunk of my car without flinching. Even coughing would bring severe spasms. I couldn’t walk for more than an hour without suffering after that. I had to give up running, which I had learned to love. I did yoga at 5 am so I could function at work. I also bought an indoor bike, so I can easily jump on it even in my pajamas. A 30-minute ride every day in our basement would help relieve the pain. I couldn’t take any pain reliever for more than a few days without getting sick in the tummy. So I lived with this pain for years. Only here in Dallas did I find my cure. It was a miracle that I was able to run the Disney half-marathon in 2019. I never dreamt I would ever regain my back, but I did! The opportunity came by chance when we moved because of Alvin’s (my husband's) job.
In the past, my rehab doctor also advised me to give up dairy and decrease my intake of red meat and processed foods. I did it half-heartedly. But one day, my college daughter came home and declared, “Mom, I’m now a pescetarian.” And that was after I labored to cook the beef stew for her. My thought bubble was, “Peste-tarian, right.”
And then, a few months after, hubby came home and declared, “I want to be a vegetarian.” My thought bubble was, “Is he in a midlife crisis or something?”
And finally, my youngest says, “Sorry, mom, I’m carnivorous.”
That was a period of intense challenge. Suddenly, I felt like I ran a hospital kitchen preparing food for patients with many dietary restrictions. I’d sometimes stand in the middle of the grocery aisles wondering what the heck am I going to cook for the week? But thanks to human adaptation, the capacity to change, and the grace to cater to the needs of the people I love, we have evolved for the better as a family.
Although everyone is a vegetarian of sorts, we have gravitated comfortably to our preferences without imposing on others. My mouth, my body, my choice. I live the consequences of my action and choices. My duty is to provide healthy options in the table, ref, and pantry and to remind them of what’s healthy or not. Sometimes unhealthy choices creep into the mix. It’s up to them to know when to eat and when to stop. Their mouths, their bodies, their choices. They will live with the consequences of their actions. I’m more of a flexitarian-vegetarian eating the Mediterranean way. I eat most foods but rarely meat (once in a blue moon) and only in tiny portions. And I try to stick to the average carb load that my body needs. I used to eat like a carpenter (a common Filipino terminology to mean eating plateful rice topped with a plateful of the main dish--no room for side dish here).
My youngest now eats more vegetables than meat. And my older daughter is more of a lacto-ovo vegetarian. Hubby still sticks to a predominantly vegan diet but would eat cheese when it’s pizza night, which is a feast for him.
The opportunity for me to change came because my family made me 🙂 And when I learned about Culinary Medicine, I thought, “I spend most hours of my days in the kitchen. Maybe I can make this as my retirement plan, my personal advocacy, a mission I can pursue until my last breath. So I took the Culinary Medicine Certification Program, passed the exam in December, and got certified early this year. I’m still groping as to how I can make a difference with my new skills, so I’m embarking on this health journey with all of you, hoping to find more clarity and a higher purpose in this new endeavor.
I invite everyone to feel free to share their health journey here. When I created the group, my vision was to provide a platform for all to share their food journey and become a source of inspiration. What about you? What opportunities have you encountered these past days to improve your health?