Meet Debbie Montalvo
Debbie Montalvo Maintains Her Own Garden
Debbie Montalvo, a member of the Healthy Living Club, is one of the students with plants in the Obama Gardens, along with two others at different community gardens in Bridgeport. Debbie and other students in the club, maintain their own gardens and they are locked at night.
She chose to garden as she was looking for a healtier way to eat. Another benefit has been that it provided some quiet time.
Debbie began her journey toward healthier living when she noticed that she was gaining weight. Her knees were also beginning to hurt. Debbie took a hard look at the food she was eating. So many of the foods that she was consuming were processed, unhealthy foods. She is one who would rather take charge and avoid illness and as a result of this way of thinking, she has avoided the many illnesses associated with weight gain.
Instead of going cold turkey and giving up all the bad food at once, she made small changes. She would take one bad food off her grocery list and replace it with a healtier,y organic choice. She also changed the kind of oil she used, opting for healthy choices like coconut, walnut and olive oils. Instead of eating fried chicken, she found healthier versions in which she could bake the chicken instead.
During her transition to a healthier life, she was asking herself “where can I get better food”? She also began questioning why she was eating certain foods.“ Why eat three hot dogs?’ “Why am I eating this ice cream?” She then actively started to read all the nutrition labels and learn about all the ingredients in her food choices.
The big concern for Debbie was how can she control what goes into her food. The only solution was to grow her own vegetables. This way, she knows exactly what's in the food she eats. She doesn't have to worry about pesticides and whatever else is used in the foods she buys.
The lifestyle change worked. She lost the weight and feels so much healthier. It has become such a passion that her dream is to become a Green House Manager. Currently Debbie is a General Studies major at Housatonic Community College. She eventually wants to transfer to a school where she can focus on horticulture.
Debbie's advice for those looking to lose weight and get healthier: Start by teaching your kids about gardening. Kids like to learn and they have a lot of curiosoty. And for people who say they don't have time? She says to make the time or you'll have to make time to see a doctor as a result of all the bad food choices you're making. You can also ask a family member to help with a garden, maybe you have a retired aunt who used to garden.
Debbie's garden includes many popular vegetables, including cucumbers, spinach, tomatos and carrots. Her typical diet is organic beans with raw sugar for breakfast, a salad with brown rice and and beans for lunch, and a salad for dinner. If she feels like eating something like maybe a favorite turkey on rye sandwich for dinner, she won't deprive herself, as long as the majority of what she's eating is healthy.
Another benefit to having a garden? Debbie can purchase organic foods from the money she saves by growing her own food. Eating healthy does not have to cost a lot.