Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stay Together Longer By Eating Together

By now, I'm sure dear readers, that you would have noticed a kind of sub-theme emerging in my blog over the last few weeks... that of healthy living. I've spoken recently about the importance of healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

Today, I want to briefly talk about the very healthy side to the Chinese culture to which I've been 'adopted'. You see, dinner is now one of the most important times of each day for me, and it is very important within our family's culture that this daily meal is one of the cornerstones of our bonding.

Even if I'm working late in the office or I have late night conference calls or community activities, it is mandatory that we sit down together as a family each and every night and share not just in food, but also use the opportunity to discuss our day and the events that have taken place in one another's absence... Jaime just loves to share what he's learned in kindergarten each day, Sammi always has some nuggets of stories which she tells in her very unique and humourous way and Casey (our baby)... well he just treats me like a rock star whenever I walk through the door!!

Given that we know we will always be together at around 7pm for this event each evening, we make sure that this is also the time that we focus most on the quality of the food that we are eating as a family.

As I've mentioned before, staying healthy is easier when you do it together. Therefore, using healthy food as the base, our family bonding at dinner creates wonderful and quality family moments.

I'm sure that this culture of bonding will rub off on the boys as they grow, so much so that as Sammi and I age (and no doubt we will remain focussed on our healthy, active lifestyle), we expect that our get-togethers as extended family will continue, ensuring that we will end up as healthy senior citizens in the prime of life!

On a side (but somewhat related) note, something I recently became aware of as a result of my dicsussion with some medical friends and my annual health screening, is the importance of what is known as 'plant sterols' (especially as we age).

Plant sterols (also known as phytosterols) come from the membranes of certain plants, and are helpful in lowering cholesterol - naturally! The scientists tell us that plant sterols are 'structurally similar' to animal cholesterol. They can be found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals, legumes, vegetable oils and other plants.

The sterols work by interfering or blocking the absorption of dietary cholesterol, which in turn lowers blood cholesterol levels - one of the highest risk factors for heart disease!

The only thing to remember, is that plant sterols can (and should) be eaten everyday, but a normal diet would not contain enough to have significant cholesterol lowering effects (around 2 to 3 grams of sterols is the optimum amount)... so be sure to look for foods when you're shopping at the supermarket that have been fortified with sterols - you can often find them in some breads, cereals, low fat milk, low fat yogurt and even some fruit juices.

Remember my basic lessons - eat healthy, stay active and your family will stay together longer by eating together!!

Also, while we're on the subject of Health and Lifestyle, be sure to check out the 'Health & You 2011' Exhibition, which is happening at the Suntec City Convention Centre (Hall 402) on the 27th and 28th August.

Learn about healthy foods and products, see cooking demonstrations, take part in fun activities and even win prizes (there will be one activity - the Nestle Quest Card - where the winner will walk away with a Dolce Gusto Circcolo 'multi beverage maker').

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