Tips to help African Americans improve health

Although March is officially National Nutrition Month, anytime is a good time to eat more nutritiously, points out the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). SOPHE offers 10 tips to help African-Americans eat more nutritiously.

“National Nutrition Month is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about nutrition and try new and healthy foods. Eating healthy foods can help weight management and lower risk for many chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, which especially affects many African-Americans” said Elaine Auld, CEO of SOPHE.

Go fresh. Choose fresh seafood, lean poultry, and beans as your protein source. If using ground meats, choose 93 percent lean ground turkey or ground sirloin beef.

Measure portions. It is easy to overeat on snacks. Measure one serving so you can save room for the main course.

Favor whole grains. Brown rice is a whole grain and has more nutrients than white rice. Buy or bake whole grain breads and baked goods.

Use the plate method. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Fill one quarter of your plate with a lean protein. Then fill one quarter of your plate with a starchy food, like a baked potato.

Use healthy cooking methods. Grill your chicken, fish, or vegetables. You can also try baking, steaming, or broiling. Small amounts of vegetable oil, olive oil, or cooking spray are better options.

Beans make a great protein source. Use dried beans when you can. They are lower in sodium than canned varieties. Always drain and rinse canned beans to remove excess sodium.

Go easy on the cheese and sour cream. Cheese is high in saturated fat and in sodium. Try reduced-fat cheeses. Non-fat Greek or plain yogurt and non-fat plain yogurt have a similar taste and texture like sour cream for much less calories and fat.

Cut your portion size when eating out. If you eat out, split the meal with someone else, eat half the meal and bring home leftovers, or order a kid-sized meal.

Snack on fruits and vegetables. Keep a bowl of fruit out on a table or counter to encourage healthy snacking. Pre-cut veggies and make “grab and go” packets.

Pack your lunch. Skip eating out and bring your lunch.

Eating healthy foods and changing habits can lead to positive results, notes Auld. Researchers report that nearly half of African-Americans are obese.[1] Auld is working with SOPHE members and other partners to decrease those numbers.

“We want to help African-American communities, families and individuals overcome the barriers to good health,” said Auld. “We want to make healthy living easier where people live, learn, work, and play.”

The Society for Public Health Education is partnering in a three-year nationwide project called the National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are 97 projects in communities across the nation assisting people and communities in living healthier lives. Learn more at #Partnering4Health and www.partnering4health.org.

Infographic available: Download “Eat well. Spend less” (if you need assistance downloading infographics, please email ami@steppingstonellc.com)

Photo available by request – contact ami@steppingstonellc.com for photos

Some tips adapted from the National Diabetes Association.

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The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) is a nonprofit professional organization founded in 1950 to provide global leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion. SOPHE contributes to the health of all people and the elimination of health disparities through advances in health education theory and research; excellence in professional preparation and practice; and advocacy for public policies conducive to health. See www.sophe.org