This year, the American Diabetes Association is celebrating its 75th anniversary. As part of this celebration, we honor progress in diabetes treatment, management and quality of life, and the Association’s role in these advancements. While tremendous progress has been made, much needs to be done to close the disparity gaps for minority populations such as the Hispanic/Latino community.
Diabetes is an urgent health problem in the Hispanic/Latino community, with 12.8 percent of the U.S. Hispanic/Latino population living with diagnosed diabetes. To learn more about the successes and challenges for Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), we spoke with celebrity chef Ingrid Hoffmann.
Hoffmann, a self-proclaimed “professional eater,” is passionate about food and entertaining. She is also host of “Top Chef Estrellas” (Telemundo), “Simply Delicioso” (Cooking Channel) and “Delicioso” (Univision). Her fascination with food, cooking and style began as a little girl when she started cooking with her mother. Soon she discovered not only a love of cooking, but also a flair for entertaining.
Why are you passionate about supporting the American Diabetes Association during Hispanic Heritage Month? Do you have a personal connection to diabetes?
As a Latina chef I feel a responsibility to use my voice and microphone to raise awareness of diabetes. I want to help my community learn the importance of changing their eating habits and to make it easy and accessible to all. My grandfather had type 2 diabetes and so I know I am predisposed to it—more reason to be preventive with my diet.
Can you tell us a little more about why you are interested in healthy eating? Have you always cooked recipes with a healthy twist?
I grew up in a home where daily healthy home-cooked meals and exercise was the norm. Mom, being a chef herself, taught me that eating healthy could and should be delicious. Yes, I have always cooked healthy—but once in a while I reward myself with a treat, because I believe in balance.
What do you think contributes to Hispanics/Latinos’ higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and related complications? How could we encourage them to change their eating habits and lifestyle?
I think that coming to this country and adopting the American fast-food/highly processed diet has been a big factor. Obviously the lack of financial resources is also a factor, and living in food deserts (areas without access to supermarkets that offer fresh produce and other healthful foods) does not help many of our Latinos either.
What are some of your favorite (and most recommended) ingredients when it comes to cooking healthier meals?
I like using good fats, such as avocados and good oils, and enjoying nuts for snacks. I also like flavoring food through spices and herbs, which add great flavors but no calories. And one of my go-to ingredients for substituting is Greek yogurt; I use it instead of mayonnaise and sour cream and even to make low-calorie/low-sugar desserts. I am a firm believer in limiting processed foods to a minimum.
Educate yourselves! What better way to do so than taking advantage of all the American Diabetes Association has to offer. Often starting with small steps can be very meaningful; small steps add up and can lead to drastic changes. It’s not about dieting; it’s about changing your lifestyle to make better choices.
To learn more about celebrating good fats as a key part of daily nutrition, visit diabetes.org/eatwell.