Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora
Chrystal Leary is a Los Angeles resident who also maintains the site, Sexy Diabetic. She is an insulin-dependent type two diabetic who has dedicated much of her time to educating the public about diabetes awareness and management.
Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the African-American community. It is often misunderstood. Even though food and diabetes are commonly associated, one does not have total causation in its development. Education and nutrition awareness is the best way to bring purpose, Nia, and restore our community health. Sharing traditions and eating food is always a part of the holiday season. While partaking in this holiday period, take time to reevaluate your food choices, food preparation and portion sizes. Proper food decisions and portion sizes can help prolong and/or thwart the development of diabetes mellitus. Kwanzaa is a celebration of healthy living and lifestyle.
Some traditional foods in the African-American community do not offer a healthy regime. During the Karamu is a wonderful time to practice Kuumba and introduce alternative healthy versions of traditional cuisines. It is also a time to explore and create new health foods and start a tradition. Add a green salad or vegetables to increase the fiber in your meal. Include foods with high water content, such as broth-based soups. Experiment with other flavorings, lean pork products and vegetarian meat substitutes. Some foods like sweet potatoes and black eyed peas are very fibrous, but they are also high carbohydrate veggies. Eat them in moderation.
Probably the most important principle for the diabetic is Kujichagulia. The principle of Kujichagulia teaches self-determination. This means being determined to regularly test, being mindful of portions, and defining for yourself how you will manage your diabetes and accept your diabetes. This is also about loving yourself as you evolve with diabetes. It takes self-determination to do what’s best for your health and to not be in denial about your condition.
Throughout the year, all African-Americans should practice Ujimaa. Family and friends should support healthy food choices and diabetic prevention and management. Maintaining the diabetic lifestyle is not easy and can be frustrating. Diabetics may find themselves under the influence to overindulge or to make the wrong food choices. Supporting the diabetic in your life will help them to stay healthy and to ward off complications like blindness and amputations. It will also build self-confidence.
After the Karamu, take the family for a walk around the neighborhood or a park. Walking with family members will build a sense of community, Umoja. Walking is the best exercise to decrease blood sugar levels after eating. With a little planning and application of the principles, each day of Kwanzaa can also be a celebration of your diabetes life and the opportunity to have a positive impact on the community as a whole.