Dear Empower, Inc Readers,
Do you know the latest health statistics on Black Americans? Have you heard how quickly we are dying and becoming sicker compared to other race groups, simply because of what we eat and drink? According to the latest health statistics reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Diabetes Association, 13.5 percent of African-Americans of all ages are in fair or poor health. Other health statistics include:
- 37.6% of Black men ages 18 years and older are obese.
- 56.9% of Black women ages 18 years and older are obese.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure):
- 40.9 % of Black men 20 years and older have hypertension
- 44.8% of Black women 20 years and older have hypertension
- 13.2% of all African Americans aged 20 years and older have diabetes.
- African Americans are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.
Top three leading causes of death among Black Americans:
- Heart disease
Yes. I hear you and well understand, “We grew up eating like this.” It’s a cultural thing. It’s our culture to indulge in our favorite savory, soul food dishes while reminiscing on the good ol’ days with family and friends. If anything, we do have the right to celebrate special moments and holidays while enjoying traditional meals/recipes that were passed down from generation to generation! It is soulful meals that reunite Black families, reconnect us to our heritage, and allow us to honor our culture without being apologetic. Along with music and religion, believe it or not, food is the center of our lives. Our food habits and choices distinctly define who we are as a community.
Unfortunately, cultural food habits and choices have plagued minority communities leading to the development of major health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and some cancers. I often state, “We have given our power to food—food has become the dictator of our lives and destiny.” What I mean by this is some of us do not have the will power to limit their intake of high-fat, high-sugar, or salty foods to save their lives.
I make a point to tell each of my clients, “don’t let food control you; you control your food choices.” Therefore, if you want to live and eat healthier, you must be empowered to regain control of your food and lifestyle choices. Yes. It is easier said than done, but what makes healthy eating less stressful is that you don’t have to completely change the way you eat overnight. Be realistic! You can take baby steps as you take back control your health. You can start with this simple recommendation just by selecting ONLY one healthy choice each day from the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy). Before you realize, you will choose and eat healthier foods more often, which will eventually improve your overall health and well-being.
I would like for you to help me continue with my “Dare to Be” Challenge. This initiative was one my first campaigns that I started in summer 2015 to empower individuals to take a chance of eating healthier, being physically active, and engaging in daily self-love. I have actually witnessed how this initiative has changed people eating and lifestyle behaviors. If you do decide to participate, below are a list of health tips and a few of my favorite recipes to get you started.
1. Start your day with eating a serving of vegetable and fruit for breakfast. You can add 1 cup of either fresh or sautéed spinach or kale with a plain scrambled egg. You can also add a fresh spinach salad mix for breakfast. It’s light, and you can add lean protein such as skinless turkey or chicken, tofu, or chopped boiled egg.
2. Make half your plate green leafy vegetables. You have a variety of choices such as spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, asparagus, arugula, Romaine lettuce, and more. It’s a great way to get calcium, fiber, potassium, Vitamin K, and powerful antioxidants to fight off those free radical cells that shown to lead to cancer.
3. Choose lean meats such as fish, eggs, lean cuts of meats, skinless poultry. Don’t forget that you can select good plant proteins too such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, soybeans, beans, chickpeas, nuts, nut butter, seeds, and quinoa.
4. Exercise your way every day for at least 30-45 minutes a day; and 60 minutes for children.
5. Don’t forget to love yourself first. Take 20 minutes out your day to meditate, pray, or sit in silence to recharge.
My favorite recipes:
I always enjoy these simple meals:
- Breakfast: A boiled chopped egg with 1 cup of sautee spinach on whole grain bread Or 1 slice of whole wheat toast with 1-2 tablespoon of peanut butter
- Mid-morning snack: ½ cup of raspberries, ½ cup of blackberries with 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt (I prefer Fage brand, but any plain Greek yogurt will do.)
- Lunch: Tuna topped with fresh kale and sliced carrots on whole wheat pita. Since I am not a fan of mayonnaise, I make my tuna with Dijon mustard, Greek Yogurt, and a drizzle of Balsamic Vinaigrette. It is delicious. Trust me.
- Midday snack: two squares of Golden graham crackers with a spread of peanut butter, topped with sliced peaches.
- Dinner: 3 ounces of baked salmon, ½ cup of smashed sweet potatoes with skin, 1.5 cup of kale salad.
- Evening snack: ½ cup of green grapes with a few cubes of low-fat cheese.
I ‘double dare’ you to take this health challenge to regain control of your health.
Charmaine C. Jones, MS, RDN, LDN
CEO/Founder of Food Jonezi
100 M Street SE, Suite #600 Washington, DC 20003