Jenny Patrizia is many things: a swimmer, a ballet dancer, an inventor. I should know -- Jenny and I have been friends since junior high. We lost touch but recently reconnected and, when we did, I was surprised to find that my old school pal had cultivated an alluring alternate personality: the Sexy Nutritionist.
Kind of like a superhero, she delivers a one-two punch to knock out bad eating habits and infuse healthy options to traditional Latin American meals on Univision. I had to know how this self-professed tomboy became a calorie combating sex kitten.
Jenny, seriously. The Sexy Nutrionist?
I didn't come up with that name, I swear! I was doing a radio show on WLKF called Mayhem in the A.M. in Wakeland, Florida. They started calling me that and it just kind of stuck (but I did patent it). So that’s what they call me on Tu Desayuno Alegre on Venevision and on The Third Eye, which is a radio show in Ireland that I do a segment for.
But how did you start doing this?
Well when I was in the beauty queen world...Well you know my mom and my aunt were former Miss Venezuelas. My aunt was the third runner up in Miss. Universe. After I competed, I started to see that in the beauty queen world people have a distorted image of their body.
The solution to gaining weight was just to not pick up a fork. But there is a lot of psychology behind how we eat. Food is the basis for everything, it’s at wakes and in weddings. For somebody to say “don’t eat,” well they’re saying change your whole life. I started to see two things. First, there’s a psychology and a lifestyle that goes with food. Second people needed to make a lifestyle change and not a diet.
I got interested in nutrition. One day, I was watching a documentary and it mentioned how Montezuma would drink a cup of hot chocolate I think twice a day and there would be chocolate, chili, vanilla (obviously, it wasn’t a tasty one) and it was considered an aphrodisiac and he had like 150 concubines and was able to satisfy them. And I started wondering why. Why would they work? And that’s how I got interested in sex and food.
I started investigating and I realized that foods that are considered aphrodisiacs are very helpful because they have lots of vitamins and minerals. I learned the hypothalamus controls appetite, hunger and sex. Both are natural pleasures we are meant to enjoy but in extreme can be bad. It is what helps us bond and feel human but we have to be responsible in both.
I know you can pull off anything but, well, nutrition is so... Unsexy.
Let’s be honest. If I go in as a nutritionist and tell you about carbohydrates, proteins -- you won’t change. And you probably won’t understand it. So I use double entendre and innuendo to make it interesting. And I'm appealing to everyone's need to be sexy. I’m not telling people to have sex (even though in 30 minutes sex burns 150 calories). Sexy to me is you are confident in who you are and you go for what you want. To me, that’s sexy. Empowerment. That’s sexy.
That makes sense. So tell me how does this message work for your Latino audiences?
In the Latin world, food is everything. Family is everything. Bonding is based on food and nutrition. A lot of dishes use (high fat) and I know it is a very personal thing for me to go in and change recipes from an older population. It is also hard to accept they have any problems at all. But I take traditional Latin foods we all know and love and I give a little makeover. I don’t change very much. Or I will show them new ways to prepare some favorite fruits like mangos, kiwi, papaya and guava that they can have instead of a sugary drink or a tomato salsa.
I was skeptical at first but now I just have to know... What foods are the miracle workers? The ones that we can all eat that have all the magical powerful properties?
Anything with high amounts of vitamin C will help you burn about 100 calories more if you eat it before a workout. It’s not just oranges and grapefruits, it’s also strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower. Guava has four times the amount of vitamin C in an orange and it’s smaller.
To increase libido, focus on foods high in zinc. That’s why oysters are considered an aphrodisiac, they are high in zinc. But so is asparagus, beans, spinach. Zinc increases circulation and without circulation down there, nothing’s going to work.
Other foods with vitamin B like bananas, apples, celery, they help you relax. If you are calm, you are going to enjoy sex more... and it’s good for your heart!
Soni Sangha is a freelance writer based in New York City.