Saving our culture: A nutritional overview series, part 2 of 3

ST. PETERSBURG — Summer is here, temperatures are rising and there are so many things to be grateful for; not to mention the three “Fs” family, fun and especially food.

In the African-American culture, food has been the center of social interaction, making it challenging to maintain a proper diet during summer family reunions and special occasions. The African-American culture is known for its soul food, which contains large amounts of meat, fat, salt and sugar.

This diet originated during slavery, in which slaves received the leftover scraps of animals from their slave owners. The African slaves learned and incorporated different styles of cooking from their slave owners who were British, French, American and Spanish. These styles included frying, boiling and roasting dishes using pork, pork fat, corn, sweet potatoes and local green leafy vegetables. The slaves brought other vegetables such as black-eyed peas, rice, yams, okra, and watermelon from their origin country.

Food Chart, featured

For years, it has been difficult to encourage African Americans to eat healthier. On average a person should consume three meals per day and two snacks. Being healthy does not mean eliminating all the foods you love, but the key is proportioning your servings.

An example plate should consist of one serving of a meat the size of a deck of cards, one serving of cooked vegetables the size of a tennis ball, one serving of raw vegetables comparable to a light bulb and one serving of a starch the size of a computer mouse.

The typical diet according to the traditional FDA food pyramid is not tailored to African Americans.  Therefore, we have provided a “Black Plate” guide catering towards the African- American diet.

Instead of fried meats, a healthier option would be to oven-fry, bake, boil, roast, or grill meats. We encourage the African-American community to eat less meat and put the emphasis on vegetables and fruits. Simple substitutions such as using 1% milk instead of whole milk, eating wheat bread instead of white bread, using reduced fat margarine, and limiting the amount of desserts to once a week are steps to eating healthier while not losing our culture.

To African Americans, food is about preserving tradition and fostering strong family ties. Therefore, we want to encourage healthier eating habits and options on how to cook soul food in healthier ways. As your neighborhood pharmacists, we hope that you take away three tips from this article: first is the history of “Soul Food,” second is the “Black Plate” and lastly healthier cooking options. In order for our culture to stay alive we must begin with cooking healthy.

Writing By:
Jasmine LaVine, PharmD Candidate
Joshua Peterside, PharmD Candidate
Florida A & M University, College of Pharmacy, Tampa Bay Division
Charlie W. Colquitt, PharmD, CPh
Associate Professor of Pharmacy of Pharmacy Practice
Florida A & M University, College of Pharmacy, Tampa Bay Division
Clinical Pharmacist
Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Inc.

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