By Mimi Pollack
While many people think Mexican food is an unhealthy mix of beans cheese, and tortillas, there is much more than that and Celebrity chef and cookbook author Maru Davila is out to prove that Mexican food can still be delicious while also being very good for you.
In her cookbook, titled “The Mexican Food Diet,” Davila has modified recipes, or which many are taken from her mother and grandmother – and turns them into satisfying, good-for-you meals and snacks. For example, there is a recipe for guacamole with baked jicama chips. The guacamole contains onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, hot peppers, and olive oil, all known for their health benefits. The jicama chips are a tasty substitute for tortilla chips.
To look at her today, one would never guess that Davila didn’t always follow this healthy eating lifestyle. In fact, she herself struggled with weight and health issues for a good part of her life.
Davila was born in Mexico City. Her father was an engineer and her mother a homemaker who later became a chef. It had been Davila’s dream since she was 12 years old to attend Harvard Business School. She was successful in achieving her goal in 1997 and then moved to San Diego.
However, she was not in good health and, like many professionals, went through a life crisis brought on by being torn between career success and starting a family. She also had to decide if she wanted to pursue her career in San Diego or move to New York City.
Davila ended up snagging a job at a local consulting company and got married, but still had lingering doubts about not going to New York.
In 2000, she and her then-husband split up. In addition, the health problems she had experienced most of her life began to get worse. She suffered from kidney infections and many digestive disorders. She was on many different medications, feeling stuck and depressed, and reaching the end of her rope. Her career was going well, but she didn’t feel healthy, and her weight fluctuated up and down.
Then, in 2008, a series of events happened that began to turn her life around. First, she met Andrew Dumke (whom she later married) and in 2010 her daughter Charlotte was born.
Davila had previously been a runner, so she decided to begin competing in triathlons. This in turn exposed her to a different type of eating. She noticed that eliminating certain foods had a big impact on her physically and it also affected her chronic conditions. It was like a light bulb lit up, so she started to connect the dots of how nutrition can affect someone physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Davila then decided to study at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and took classes online. She got certified as a health coach and also got herself tested and found out her body had issues with the protein in dairy products and digesting gluten and certain other foods. Years of taking antibiotics for the many infections she had had also ruined the flora in her digestive system and her body was out of balance.
It was then that she knew she had to come up with a healthy lifelong plan of eating. This all lead her to develop her three-part Flaca Forever plan.
The first part of this plan is a two-week detox. The second part is to stop dieting and change that mentality by following a lifelong plan of eating. The third part is to control cravings. She started surrounding herself with experts to help with the above plan, so she herself and others who followed could develop a different and healthier lifestyle.
The detox was to help the body get rid of damaging toxins. To stop dieting and control cravings, there needed to be the correct ingredients and whole foods. She also felt, as do many experts, that taking out dairy products and gluten was important. Finally, natural supplements were also added. As she was working on all this, she realized that Mexican food had many detoxifying elements which could be used to make healthy and delicious meals.
After developing and experimenting with different recipes, “The Mexican Food Diet” was published in 2017. She wanted the cookbook to contain healthy, but delicious recipes and tips, so one would feel like they were eating in a tasty and satisfying way without the deprivation that strict dieting can cause.
Today, she is a successful mom, author, healthy chef, integral nutritionist, and weight loss expert. As Davila says, “It is never too late to look and more importantly feel great.”