An amazing journey in Vietnam is winding down. I've experienced new sights, sounds and tastes. I've also seen many of the nutrition and health messages I've written about put into practice. The following three are easily translatable to South Florida life:
▪ Soup for breakfast: Soup, most often traditional Vietnamese pho, was always at the breakfast buffet. It is a soothing and nourishing start to the day. Pho consists of rice noodles, a protein source of chicken, beef or pork, and different herbs, greens and spices. It is the right combination of protein, fat and carbohydrate needed to start the day. And the cilantro found in pho contains antioxidants that might be helping me deal with the exhaust fumes I've been breathing. Vegetarians could substitute tofu for the meat.
▪ Meat as a condiment: Meat was never the main event at the meals I've eaten in Vietnam. It is scattered into a noodle or rice dish, wrapped up with veggies in a spring roll or Vietnamese pancake or included with soup. This is similar to what is presented in the MyPlate visual, where the protein portion of the meal is one-fourth of the plate. Go to MyPlate.gov for ideas and how to balance your intake.
▪ Start or end the day with activity: There are loudspeakers on most street corners in Vietnam and every morning and evening there is a broadcast. Included with messages about events and government activities, there is encouragement to exercise morning and evening. I'm definitely not advocating for a 5 a.m. broadcast but we have a substitute with our apps and activity trackers. It can be very motivating to set a step goal to achieve. And most activity apps have alarms. I downloaded an app called Stand Up! that reminds me to stand up at least very hour. Too much sitting in a day can lessen the benefit of physical activity.
For a simple pho recipe, visit http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/vietnamese-noodle-soup-recipe.html.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.