Nutritionist Maro Keverian – Nigoghossian lives with her married daughter in the UAE. She is specialist in the study of nutrition and alternative medicine. She is the author of two books and has enough material to publish a third. She writes in plain Armenian with a convincing style.
Azad-Hye had the following interview with her (click here to read a longer version of the interview in Armenian)
How did you become a nutritionist, what was your first motive?
In the late 1940s, when I was still a teenager, my dad suffered from a stomach problem; I liked to read, so I started to read in medical books trying to find the reasons behind my father?s stomach-ache. I read about the symptoms as well as the causes and cures.
In 1982, I started to learn about alternative medicine, which was a discovery for me. I learned about the special relationship between body and brain, the causes of diseases and how to diagnose and prevent them.
Do you think that the Armenians of the Middle-East are well aware of their nutritional diet?
Well… life has changed in the past 25 years, now everybody reads and everyone has become his own physician, we are all well aware of the relationships between food and many diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity, etc. People in the Middle East started to cut down on salt, sugar, pastry? to avoid high blood pressure and heart-related problems.
Eating everything you desire might feel normal at the beginning but after your 40s or 50s undesirable illnesses will turn up, especially obesity. You need to cut down on chemically treated foods and fried food and focus on exercising before it?s too late.
What about our Armenian traditional foods? Are they in the category of healthy foods? Should we change them in any way?
We tend to overuse fat, sugar, grit, white rice and flour. We also cook a lot using fowl, mutton or lamb which are not the healthiest choices, since the animals are treated with antibiotics and not fed properly. So, one should eat fish abundantly – not the fried ones though – along with some green salad. If you are a meat lover, eat it twice a week, 100 grams per serving. Also cut down on milk, butter and cheese. Soya cheese would be a great replacement. In case you decide to keep the meat away from your diet, here?s how you can still stock up on protein: Eat whole rice and peas, or whole rice and kidney beans along with steamed vegetables which are high in iron and calcium, therefore good for your bones, blood and teeth. Of course it is understandable that we should completely eliminate alcohol, cigarettes, chips crackers and high sugar drinks from our diet.
How young can we start following a healthy diet?
I would say as young as kindergarten, teachers should have a plan and should pass it on to the kids. The pastors can also be of big help, being in contact with every single household, they can remind the families that no one should exaggerate in consuming food. We can also reinforce the ideas in daily newspapers, columns; the list can go on, books, lectures, and special committees in clubs?
This definitely should not be something that interests women merely. How can we get the male interested too?
Women were usually the ones who cooked and the men ate whatever their wives or mothers cooked, but now that the woman works too, everyone should be responsible for himself, trying out new healthy food from books rather than ordering ready-made grills and fat-saturated meals from the market.
I personally suffered from a lot of physical pain in my younger years, but once I started to read balanced diet and natural medicine books, in a matter of a year or two I was in the best shape of my life, and still am. When there is will there is a way. You can prevent diseases by simply picking your food wisely and making life healthier for you and the ones around you.
I have been writing articles for years now and have also published two books about nutrition in order to share my knowledge and benefit the readers.
Maro Keverian – Nigoghossian is a frequent contributor to Azad-Hye's Health and Nutrition section. Read here articles (in Armenian) here.
Photo: Maro Keverian – Nigoghossian with family members
English translation by Nanor Mikayelian