At 32, Joe Piscatella had bypass surgery due to a 95 percent blockage of a coronary artery. That day sent his life in a different direction.
“It’s what I term a teachable moment,” says Piscatella. “That was a turning point for me. I’ve had to learn how to eat healthy and exercise.”
Piscatella, now president of the Institute for Fitness and Health, travels the country giving lectures on healthy living. He will speak Tuesday at Providence Auditorium in Spokane as part of Heart Improvement Month.
His free presentation is called “Life Is Not a Dress Rehearsal.”
Piscatella will discuss how to make moderate changes in one’s diet, which will add up over time, rather than more severe changes that won’t stick.
“You don’t have to make radical changes,” he says.
For instance, if people swear off red meat in an effort to be healthy, it often doesn’t work. Instead, Piscatella advocates switching to leaner cuts of meat and eating smaller portions.
“You don’t have to eat half a cow,” he says.
Much of Piscatella’s talk comes from his book, “Don’t Eat Your Heart Out,” one of four books he has written. “How to Fat Proof Your Child” is due in bookstores in April.
Piscatella describes his new book as a how-to book for parents, with tips on how to help kids lead more active lives and eat lower-fat diets. However, diets for children under 2 should not be restricted in fat because it’s needed to help them grow and develop. But after 2, says Piscatella, they also eat more low-fat foods.
Piscatella doesn’t advocate diets for children or adults. Exercise and eating wisely are healthier, he says. More to the point, most diets don’t work, “or we’d be a nation of skinny people,.” he says.
People don’t even have to swear off fast food: “I want to teach them how to make better choices in a fast-food restaurant,” says Piscatella. “I’m very involved in the practical.”
The most important thing is for people to know how many grams of fat they can eat and still be on a low-fat diet. The average American diet is too high in fat, he says.
“We eat the fat equivalent of one to one and a half sticks of butter every day,” says Piscatella.
Piscatella offers tips on how to change your lifestyle for the better, including doubling your intake of complex carbohydrates found in vegetables and greens, cutting the amount of fat in your diet in half, and adding exercise:
Use a non-stick pan to cook with instead of frying with oil.
When dining out, have high-fat sauces and dressings served on the side.
Schedule exercise with another person for support and to increase commitment.
Prepay for your child’s school lunches so the money is not spent on candy.
A strenuous exercise program is not necessary. Simply take a 45-minute walk three or four times a week.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Talk on Tuesday Joe Piscatella will talk about healthy living from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday at Providence Auditorium, Ninth and Rockwood Boulevard, Spokane. Free. Reservations are required; call 455-3202 to reserve space.
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