SO, WE have a problem.
People of black African origin are up to three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white people.
High blood pressure and obesity are also a huge problem within our community.
I went on a OMAD (One Meal A Day) diet. And I can honestly tell you it worked amazingly for me.
So I want to talk to you about traditional foods and how they can improve our health and our wellbeing.
It doesn’t help, that where, and how you live will eventually determine the level of care you receive if you were to develop T2D or any other illnesses in comparison to white people.
So we are already at a disadvantage, but that still doesn’t stop us from doing a bit of self-help by changing around a couple of things. Like I’ve been doing recently.
And our food and eating pattern is always a good place to start; We must change, because, you are what you eat. You’ve heard that before. And there is some truth in it, but to some of us change can really be quite scary.
Especially for Caribbean black’s, any suggestion of tampering with their eating habits or traditional cooking styles can prove to be very painful indeed. You will hear cry’s of, sell-out and even the in fashion call of cultural appropriation been thrown around.
But what I am saying is to: Cut down the wrong stuff, which we so love, those extra added salts and sugars, they re what’s doing the damage. So its clear, we all need to take a deep breath and stop laughing at our selves, at our food and stop the jokes about our bad habits. Check this out, of that high risk group, the Diabetes.org site goes on to say, that black Caribbean male and female are at a greater risk than other ethnic groups Including black African, Bangladeshi and Pakistani.
Most importantly I noted that it also said that of all the serious diseases, Type 2 Diabetes has the strongest association with obesity. So, it is avoidable then.
No one is saying to completely cut out traditional methods of preparing your food, especially for meats and fish, but you really need to get to taste the true flavours of your food, and not only the powdered seasonings you slapped on 24 hours before.
Trust me, I know about well seasoned; but what was good for back in the day, when our mothers and grans use to cook that way, when sugars, salts and seasonings was more than just taste and flavour, now to us they have become a danger.
Them people, they were much fitter too, they ate organically, had less pollution and no GM food.
So their internal system, they worked perfectly; turning the good stuff into energy and rejecting any toxic elements, along with your waste material at the end of the day.
Remember the old saying “What doesn’t kill you fattens you”? that came from our elders, but its not strictly true, they didn’t know what we know now.
They also ate less too. Meal times were punctual and not a lot of snacking in between either (if they did snack it was mainly on fresh fruits, shoots, seeds and nuts). And because of it people slept better, worked harder and lived longer.
But sadly, our modern day bodies are constantly under attack by new super strains of colds, flus and all sorts of epidemical viruses, so by the time we get to our middle age our immune system is pretty much like burnt toast!
So I do believe that it is not about what you eat. But more about how you eat it, how you cook it, prepare and finally when you consume and enjoy that food.
I much prefer this old song lyrics “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it…”
Nowadays I will always try to measure my added seasonings; with one eye on my taste and flavour mantra; Too little’s better than too many.
Still, I never truly understood how the body works when it comes to what it did with our food after we have swallowed it.
Like many of us I took that part for granted, so recently during lockdown, I started to pay a lot more attention to that and to my weight and wellness. I’ve always taken regular check-ups so I knew that I didn’t have T2D, but I wasn’t waiting around for it, I wanted to be one step ahead and protect myself against it.
It started when my seven-year-old son called me fat. We were playing around one day when he said “Daddy I love your nice fat, squishy belly…” oh lord-have-mercy, I knew I was a little heavy but I wouldn’t have said fat, no, at 15 stones on a 6”1’ body frame, I thought that that was not bad at all…But in fact I had been increasing in body weight for about a year without even realising until my suits didn’t fit as snug as they used to.
Working in the food and drink industry didn’t help either as creating recipes, cooking demonstrations, samplings, testing and tasting products daily, they all came with the territory.
Plus, I had been taking blood pressure tablets daily for many years after being diagnosed with hypertension and the side effects were causing me problems.
And so with Christopher’s words “fat squishy belly” kept ringing in my ears, I decided to act, to lose weight, two stones to be precise, and to bring my blood pressure under control. And, I wanted to do it naturally, without medication.
First I needed to take an on-line crash course in human biology, on how the body works; particularly when it comes to nutrition.
What I discovered has changed me forever and at the age of 62 I am now feeling better than I ever did. I lost the two stones in just two months and lowered my blood pressure rate to an all time low, all by paying attention to what I ate and to when I ate my meals.
I learnt that; I needed to respect and pay attention to my gut and to protect my immune system. Because those guys, they’d been over-worked, my digestive system was fatigued and exhausted. They needed a break, needed some TLC.
Like most of us, I was always eating, drinking, all day, everyday snacking, chowing, swallowing, breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, supper, bedtime snacks etc. It didn’t mater when, if I was hungry I ate, it was that simple.
And the worst, most troubling thing is that most of the food and drink consumed in that time are unhealthy processed products which are a little tougher for our digestive systems to deal with.
Give them a rest, guys, please. It’s easy; if it comes in a tin or is already cooked, then its probably not good for you. That is the rule.
The diabetes.org.uk website tells us that diabetes remission is possible and that remission is strongly linked to weight loss.
It recommends that losing some 15kg within three to five months significantly increases your chances of remission.
I had always thought that losing weight had had to include rigorous exercising and a lot of running. And the thing was I hadn’t been to a gym in over 20 years and I wasn’t planning on joining one just then.
My research had showed me that it is possible to lose loads of weight and do it quickly without excessive exercise.
I had begun my weight loss journey with getting rid of the three most dangerous item to us blacks; among all the food in my kitchen; Sugar, Dairy and Bread (Flour).
I call them the Devil’s essentials, I had enjoyed them all my life, never stopped, never even thought about reducing my huge sugar intake. But it had to go, get rid of it.
I was notorious for my sweet tooth, cakes, buns, snickers, choc bars. My PA always carries Snickers bars around for me in her handbag. Its that bad. No wonder I suffered from stomach ulcers.
From I was in my teens, back in those days’ full cream milk was recommended by GPs as a remedy for such illnesses as gastric ulcers, so I drank loads of it, no one ever told me that I was Lactose intolerant until I found out for myself. I spent all my life in pain, until I gave it up.
And then bread, the last of the deadly three health hazards I had to ditch, or to keep under strict control in order for me to get in the shape of my life.
I went on a OMAD (One Meal A Day) diet. And I can honestly tell you it worked amazingly for me.
The weight simply just fell off in front of my eyes. I know it sounds crazy but believe me, guys my body took to it like a duck to water.
I discovered that I really could survive on only certain fruits, nuts, natural juices and water during breakfast and lunch, then to have only one proper balanced home cooked main meal six-eight hours before bedtime. Amazing.
It’s like this. When we over-work parts of our bodies, or we get strains or muscle fatigue, usually the most sensible thing to do is to simply give that particular part of the body a rest. Chill out. Let the body repair and heal itself.
So the same must stand for when we are internally feeling unwell, like when we’re under the weather, tired for no apparent reason, not sleeping well etc.
These are all signs that you perhaps might need to take a look at your eating pattern. And to perhaps get a full body MOT check up.
My best advise is to reward yourself with some good nutritious foods, and to take regular Junk food holidays, away from all that processed stuff, reduce all bread, dairy and carbohydrates, for a while, at least and allow your body to take care of you, naturally.
Only then you’ll get the best of yourself, its all about taking control of your life because you are responsible for your own health and wellness.
Perhaps the challenge of the OMAD diet might sound totally absurd to some of you but, the fact remains that cutting down on certain foods and changing your eating pattern are by far the first and best step towards loosing weight and protecting yourself from type 2 Diabetes, hypertension and other kinds of heart diseases.
Right now I been involved with helping a campaign working alongside NHS England with their Diabetes Prevention Programme which supports people to make positive changes to their diet, to their weight and their physical activities, to significantly reduce their risk of developing T2D.
So, I am here to reach out to everyone, especially to people like me, from African Caribbean origin who are at greater risks
So, please don’t wait until you have developed these conditions before you get to know how easy it is to avoid them.
Eat less be blessed. Think of your health, give back to yourself.
More love LR
To find out your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, visit https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start