Rachel Tineo- Eating well with the whole family


Last week, readers learned about the incredible wellness journey of Rachel Tineo, a senior systems analyst at TMC. Tineo, overweight and swiftly moving toward health complications that included diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, was told by her physician that if she didn’t make changes—she might not be around to see her children grown up.

Since then, Tineo has made huge strides in her wellness journey. And a big part of that came down to nutrition. She learned that physical activity wasn’t enough—even if you could dead lift 300 pounds. Another huge challenge was un-learning a lifetime of bad habits and developing new ones that she could sustain.

Just as importantly, Tineo realized that her own health wasn’t the only issue. As she turned her own life around, it was up to her to also teach her husband and kids how to live healthier lives. She worried that her previous bad habits might have had a lasting effect on them.

Tineo wasn’t alone in her concern. Rampant childhood obesity and poor nutrition are major factors placing children at significant risk for a myriad of health problems in adolescence and adulthood. From 1976 to 2002 the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity has more than doubled. And childhood obesity is one of the main health concerns in Pima County. Children who are overweight are at greater risk for health problems like diabetes, heart disease, depression and sleep apnea—something Tineo could testify to.

In fact, obese children face these health threats while still in adolescence. Sadly, this generation of children may be the first generation to have a life expectancy that is less than their parents!Healthy_Meal_230x230

Despite those sobering facts, keeping up with a nutrition plan over the long haul for a family is no easy task, especially for busy families. Tineo relied on her trainer’s advice, and turned to TMC nutrition experts and friends for help. She was able to pick up some simple guidelines for her menus:

1. limit salt

2. keep bad fats (saturated) to a minimum

3. add more vegetables, fruits and grains

TMC dietitian Laurie Ledford said most adults should aim to restrict salt intake to 1500 mg a day on average, with the Institute of Medicine recommending an upper limit of 2300 mg a day. That upper limit is essentially the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt.

The majority of Americans consume at least twice, and even triple, that amount, she said, and that’s because it’s not just about what comes out of the salt shaker. The bigger culprits are processed food and fast food.

Limiting saturated fats is also important. These are the ones that harden at room temperature and mostly come from animal products – think butter, chicken skin, and fat on steak.

Steer clear, too, of trans fats, which do all the items above, but also lower good cholesterol. There’s less of it around, with a push to eliminate it from cookies, snacks, and other processed foods, but it still lurks in fast food.

On the other hand, nuts and avocadoes are full of what’s considered “good” fat, which may be high in fat and calories, but which can be taken in moderation. A  serving of nuts can be a great substitute for potato chips and crackers.

Luckily, eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or drab and you don’t have to avoid your family’s favorite foods.

Take the kiddie favorite cheese, for example. It is full of saturated fat and sodium. But you don’t have to pull it out of the lunchbox altogether. Instead, pick a strong-flavored cheese, such as goat cheese, that will allow smaller portions. It’s all about moderation.

Another piece of advice? Don’t try to overhaul your family’s diet all at once.

Pick one area and start there. Once you get a handle on salt, for example, then it might be time to start reducing fat. Even that can come in stages. If you drink whole milk, for example, try 2 percent. Then blend 2 percent with 1 percent. Maybe you can get to 1 percent or even skim at some point.

Gradually, too, build up to the recommended 4 to 5 servings of vegetables and 4 to 5 servings of fruits a day.

“Choose one that will be the easiest to do for you, and then move on the next. None of us can change 100 percent of what we do overnight and then expect to stick with it. It’s all about developing better habits.”

Another resource that is available to other parents sharing Tineo’s concerns is TMC HealthCare’s Recipes for a Healthy Family. The online cookbook helps parents and their children lead healthy lives and have fun cooking. It promotes healthy food choices, at-home meal preparation and family dining—things that pay huge dividends in more than just physical health. Parents and children learn important nutritional information about the food they are eating and helpful safety tips for preparing meals at home.

Visit https://www.tmcaz.com/TucsonMedicalCenter/Food_and_Nutrition_Services/Recipes to access the cookbook.

Recipes were taken from credible sources such as U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Dairy Association, Arizona Beef Council and National Pork Council. All recipes were tested and surveyed before inclusion in the cookbook. The cookbook also has an interactive piece for families, allowing parents to consult a registered dietitian via email for specific questions.






  1. How can one join this program?

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