Irma Douglas

My own interest in nutrition and exercise began in a previous life, however, when my sister Eleonore returned from dietetics training in England.  Until then, I had followed the typical Caribbean diet of 85% starch, a touch of beans and an “eye” of protein.  In my family, nobody except my father ever ate vegetables, let alone dark green leafies.  But with a dietitian in the house, our entire lifestyle was upended with emphasis on lean proteins, “roughage” (aka “fiber”), vitamins, and exercise.  I was only 17 when Eleonore gave me my first lesson in basic pastry.  Having proceeded to cooking school where I mastered French pastry including puff and croissant, to fend off the calories, I have had to revert to my own tasty, whole grain creations.

But great food has been central to my life for as long as I can remember.  Eating has always produced more than just average gratification, transforming each meal into a special occasion, planned and anticipated with all the fervor of a banquet.  And when the moment has arrived, my eyes have caressed the presentation, before imbibing every delectable morsel with unhurried, voluptuous care.    I spent the entire 90’s indulging at the best restaurants in Manhattan, dining at a different one literally every evening.  While I was at NYU graduate school, dining remained my favorite form of relaxation.  Earlier, I had studied Event Planning at NYU and enrolled in cooking school in order to feed that obsession.  I maintained that level of dining at home.  But as I got older and my metabolic rate began to drop, the food started showing up on my waist.

It was not surprising that before long, this love for gourmet food spiraled into a perpetual battle with my weight.  Like most women, I completely lost control after the birth of my son and remained anchored at 182 lbs for what seemed like an eternity, feeling helpless, depressed and totally done for.

I was so desperate, I consulted a therapist who threw down the gauntlet: “medication or run for your life”, she said.   I had not run seriously since high school when I was a star sprinter.  But having been trained by my 2 brothers, Mac, a long distance runner, and Adenauer, a sprinter, I painstakingly faced the challenge of running for my life.  Although I did not have the discipline to keep going, I dared not quit or I would have validated my sister Git’s taunt that “if you ever stop running, you’ll become a short, fat lady”.  That frightening comment was enough to keep me running like a hound 6 miles a day, 5 days a week for years and years.   The running antidote slowly became an addiction and a de-stressor which so far, has protected me from genetic cardiovascular disease.

I am a member of the American Dietetic Association’s Dietetic Practice Groups in Weight Management and also the Nutrition Entrepreneurs.  Cutting edge information from these groups, the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute and my other association memberships, keep me current and are critical to my continuing education in this field.

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