Live healthy the Lebanese way

Eating healthy is essential to obtain optimal wellness. In fact, once you decide to eat and live the healthy Lebanese way, you feel more energetic and self-confident. Short-term, you will have more time to enjoy yourself; long-term, you will spend less time in doctors' clinics or hospitals!

Here are some of "Sohi Wa Sarih" tips that you should follow for a healthier you; enjoy!

  • Order cheeseless sandwiches and salads when you eat out. Moderation is always the key!
  • Try to have soups on lunch or dinner. Add no butter or ghee and little salt while cooking. In fact, people eat fewer calories on their main meal on days they have soup as an entry than on days they have either beverages or any other appetizer.
  • Eat bulgur; it seems to be forgotten by many people, although it is a very healthy and tasteful side dish. Have stews more often for lunch or dinner such as green beans, peas, spinach with rice and controlled quantities of low-fat meat.
  • Have chips, candies, cookies on occasions and in moderation. That is not to say you can never have a slice of dessert! Just save it for really rare occasions! Remember "Sohi Wa Sarih" slogan: HALF IT AND YOU CAN HAVE IT?
  • Stick to water when thirsty. Have your coffee or tea with a minimal amount of sugar. Some juices can be healthy if taken in moderation.

Frozen foods

Frozen foods are a great element in healthy eating. And when it comes to frozen vegetables, they are vey suitable since there are no stalks or unwanted leaves to eliminate.

It is often convenient to freeze your own meats and other foods at home. If you open my freezer you will find frozen goods such as chopped onion and pepper, minced garlic, boiled beans and lentils, and precooked minced or cube meat.

Label and date what you freeze, and try to use it within a few months for best quality.

I highly recommend getting your own frozen vegetables from the supermarket. Don't buy packages with ice crystals or other signs of melting and refreezing.

Freezing does not kill microbes but puts them in an inactive state. Thus, frozen foods cannot spoil if they stay frozen.

When you thaw frozen foods, especially meats and fish, you should cook them to the same degree as if they had been fresh.

As for nutrients, frozen fruits and vegetables retain their nutrients almost as well as fresh, especially when they are quick-frozen, packed in airtight containers, and kept frozen during shipping and marketing.

Any kind of processing, whether it's freezing or cooking, destroys some vitamins. But fresh foods also lose nutrients, especially if not properly handled, or if they sit in the market or your refrigerator too long.

Healthy snacks for children

It is very important to give healthy snacks for your children to avoid eating unhealthy snacks such as potato chips, chocolate and juices. These foods can be eaten occasionally and in controlled quantities. It is a healthy habit that a child should pick up at a young age, and the best choice to ensure healthy eating at school, university and even work.

  • Choose tasty bread and vary the filling of the sandwich. Allow your child to choose the type of filling such as labneh, cheese, zaatar with oil or turkey.
  • Make sure the sandwich is yummy and rich in vegetables to encourage your child to eat it.
  • You can also prepare a jam, or natural peanut butter sandwich.
  • Avoid cold cuts and processed meat such as mortadella or salami since they are high in preservatives and salt.
  • Do not encourage croissant, donuts or knefe. Children can have them on occasions but in controlled amounts.
  • Give your child cucumber, cherry tomatoes and carrots with a variety of fruits such as apples, strawberries or bananas.
  • Avoid giving your child juices, soft drinks, or other high calorie beverages.
  • Do not give money to your child very often in order to avoid temptations to buy chips and chocolate.
  • Offer home-made desserts to your child such as meghli with raw nuts, sfoof and nammoura.

Breastfeeding benefits

We highly recommend breastfeeding at least for an infant's first 6 months of life. During these months, breast milk alone can provide enough nourishment to support your baby's optimal growth and development. Then when solid foods are introduced, they complement breast milk.

Breastfeeding offers a multitude of physical and emotional benefits for both baby and mother that can not be offered with milk formulas.

Breast milk:

  • Has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein and other nutrients to meet the growth, development and energy needs of infants.
  • Is naturally rich in DHA fatty acid (important component of brain and retina cells) which may provide brain and vision developmental benefits.
  • Changes naturally in composition and amount as a baby matures and grows.
  • Protects babies from both allergies and common illnesses because it is rich in antibodies, unlike formulas.
  • Doesn't need measuring, mixing or warming and it is always ready-to-feed.
  • Saves money.

You should also know that breast-fed babies tend to gain less unnecessary weight and tend to be leaner with less chance for obesity later!

Finally, besides knowing that your baby is well fed, you as a nursing mom get many benefits from breastfeeding.

  • Breastfeeding nurtures a close bond between you and your baby.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
  • Women who breastfeed loose the pregnancy weight faster
  • Releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth.