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Opinion

Lay off soul food for your health

Soul food is an American tradition, one that’s causing diseases of all types, including cardiovascular problems.
 
 Dr. Timothy
Moore

Did you watch the movie “Soul Food” starring Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, and Nia Long, and the subsequent TV spinoff? I did, and it still brings back fond memories of my own family sitting around the kitchen table with grandmother and grandpa and how we could talk about any and everything as a family.

Sunday was the big day when we’d gather joyfully and guzzle down grandmother’s culinary delights: collard greens, neck bones, golden fried chicken, double cheese macaroni and cheese, hot water cornbread, and who could forget the sweet tea that was so sweet you could make three glasses out of one.

Soul food is an American tradition, one that’s causing diseases of all types, including cardiovascular problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that African Americans, more than any other race of people, are seriously obese due to their over abundance of soul food.

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice on every corner in the inner city some type of fast food restaurant selling or delivering soul food. The prices are very affordable, but the food is fattening and loaded with salt. Now that’s a powder keg waiting to explode.

A noted restaurant recently announced a major overhaul of its kitchen menu and the way food is prepared and served. This is a good start for the restaurant to address the consequential health problems that will spring up for sure as a result of one’s gluttonous appetite for soul food.

The key to good health starts with education. Do you know what ingredients cooks employ when they prepare food? I wish. I understand when you complain that soul food has to be tasty and enjoyable. In a sense, however, we’ve grown use to food that momma makes, which, I’m certain, still activates the saliva gland when the aroma of down home soul food wafts across your nose.

If you want to blame anyone for your insatiable appetite for soul food, start with your taste buds. Those little sensors on your tongue can help you differentiate the kinds of food that’s good or bad for you. As toddlers, we were given food to control our crying and emotional outbursts. As adults, we still use food to control emotions, feelings, and desires.

Food is comforting and satisfying, but one in three Americans has diabetes. That ratio will triple in 2050, according to the CDC. So, if your health were in jeopardy, would you try to curtail your appetite for soul food? I would hope so.

The American staple that we call soul food is changing across the horizon. Restaurants are noticing that customers are looking for a menu change; they want to know how food is being prepared. These health-conscious Americans have decided that enough is enough. They are seeking ways in which to enrich their lives without diving head first into a mile-high plate of soul food.

If you want to kick soul food to the curb and eat the right portion of healthy food, starting with vegetables, you’ll be able to take back your life and rid your body of devastating illnesses. A plant-based diet and a lifestyle change are factors in restoring optimum health, and eating green leafy vegetables and drinking pure water will get you there faster.  

The CDC has pointed to evidence that a vegetarian diet can arrest some health problems, and even reverse them. I’m certain that not all people are connoisseurs of soul food. Fresh fruit and vegetables can just as easily satisfy the taste buds and quell hunger panes. Whether steamed or eaten raw, fresh fruit and vegetables contain all the nutrients that your body needs to function.

The season is changing, so beware of those stealth health problems. They’ll pop up when you least expect them to. However, by consuming more fruit and vegetables, you’ll be able to ward off colds and strengthen your immune system. If you lay off soul food and eat your vegetables, you’ll notice a difference in your overall health.  

I did enjoy the tender moments and camaraderie that I shared with family around the kitchen table in years past, but I learned quickly after ballooning to 300 pounds that what tastes good is not always good for you.

(Dr. Timothy Moore can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit him on the Web sites at www.cheftimothymoore.com or www.twitter.com/cheftimmoore.)

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