National Nutrition Month celebration provides guests with chef demonstrations, healthy eating tips

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Experts often recommend for everyone  to eat more fruits and vegetables, but finding healthy options isn’t always easy or convenient.

To celebrate National Nutrition Month, Richland County invited community members together to give them tips and ideas on healthier eating and living.

Chef Jessica Carswell with The Food Academy provided guests with a healthy lunch including collards, sweet potatoes, and rainbow slaw.

Next, Chef Christa Demment Gonzalez with Food Share South Carolina gave guests a demonstration on healthy cooking.

She says everyone should aim to “eat the rainbow” — recommending everyone to eat colorful fruits and vegetables daily.

“You think about, ‘Did I eat all the colors today? Maybe I didn’t have purple.’  That’s a hard one to find. You can have that in cabbage, you can have that in blueberries. And when you’re having it in fresh produce or even frozen or canned, vegetables and fruits are providing a complete nutrition package that you’re not getting when you have processed foods,” says Chef Demment Gonzalez.

Deanita Joseph attended Wednesday’s event and says she finds multiple benefits to eating healthier foods.

“For one, you feel much better. You sleep better. You don’t have to go to the doctor all the time. When you eat healthier, your A1C comes down. You’re not challenged with high sugar levels. When you eat healthy you’re not challenged with high cholesterol . So that helps that and it also helps with high blood pressure,” Joseph says.

According to Chef Demment Gonzalez, many top chronic illnesses are diet and lifestyle related.

“So if we made baby steps towards eating a little bit more of the fresh produce than we normally do, we could address cardiovascular health, diabetes, obesity, pre-diabetes, and hypertension. Hypertension is one of the conditions that responds the most quickly to changes in diet,” she says.

Chef Demment Gonzalez recommends adding in more dark, leafy greens to your diet like collards, kale, and Brussel sprouts to your diet.

She has another tip for success as well, saying, “Most of us grew up planning the protein first, and if you flip that on its head and you plan which vegetable you want to showcase first, it’s a dietary change that can have a profound impact.”

This summer, Food Share South Carolina will open its new Teaching, Kitchen, and Training Center at 201 Columbia Mall Boulevard.

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