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Photo* by Tevia Siin*on
Nathan Wilkins (Left)
helps to prepare a
healthy meal during the
Cooking Matters class
on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Wilkins said he started
attending the class to
learn how to lead a
Cooking Matters (Right)
fresh herbs during a
recent Cooking Matters
session. The class is
designed to educate the
munity on healthy
Poor diet linked to illnesses among blacks
Obesity and poor diet linked
to cancer and hypertension,
recent research shows
BY TEVIN STINSON
This holiday season while we
overindulge our favorite dishes and
desserts, we must consider the impact on
our health. Many social interactions during
the holidays are centered around food.
Unfortunately for the African-American
community, soul food is not the healthiest
As obesity and chronic disease soar in
many cultures around the world, African
Americans seem to be the hardest hit; 47.8
percent of African-Americans are obese,
compared to 32.6 percent of whites.
Overweight and obesity rates also tend to
be higher among African-American chil
dren, with obesity rates increasing faster at
earlier ages and with high rates of severe
obesity as well.
Along with the weight disparities come
other issues as well. Black people are
twice as likely as white people to have a
stroke and to be diagnosed with diabetes.
Many believe it is time for African
Americans to stop eating foods that have
been known to cause hypertension, many
of which have been staples in the commu
nity for years, such as processed meats, red
meats, and pork.
Recent research has also proven that
certain nutrients and foods increase your
chance of being diagnosed with cancer.
According to the American Cancer
Society, poor diet and being inactive are
two key factors that can increase a person's
Cancer survivor John Ray said that
once he stopped eating those types of
foods, his health improved and he started
to feel better as well.
"The African-American community as
a whole has to do better," he said. "I know
many of us were raised on pork and fried
foods, but it is time to leave those foods
alone. They are slowly killing us."
Ray also encourages the community to
make regular trips to the doctor. He men
tioned that if it wasn't for a close friend
forcing him to go to the doctor, he may not
be alive today. "I was suffering from very
bad stomach pains. I refused to go to the
doctor because I didn't think it was any
thing serious," he continued. "When I
finally did go, they diagnosed me with
colon cancer. It was that day I realized how
important going to the doctor really is."
It has been proven that lower incomes
and poverty correlate strongly with an
increase in obesity since less nutritious,
calorie-dense foods are often less expen
sive than healthier foods.
Cooking Matters, a six-week cooking
class held at the Winston Lake YMCA and
local churches, was designed to combat
those issues in Winston-Salem and Forsyth
Thie class is sponsored by Cancer
Services and is designed to teach members
of the community how to cook healthy on
Outreach Educator Felecia Bennett
Giles said she started Cooking Matters
because so many African-Americans are
affected by chronic disease.
"It's important to educate the commu
nity because so many of us suffer from dis
eases like diabetes and cancer," she said. "I
tell the participants if you eat healthy, you
can add an extra 14 years to your life. I'm
just trying to get people to eat better and
During a recent session held at
Morning Star Baptist Church, 1400 Fitch
Street, Nathan Wilkins said that after much
persuasion from his wife, he decided it was
time to change the way he has been eating
"As a diabetic, I felt it was important to
learn about eating healthy," he continued.
"I want to be healthy and live as long as I
Here are a few tips to remember
when shopping for groceries to prepare
your holiday feast, as well as grocery
shopping year 'round.
?Make a list before you go shopping
and stick to your list. This will help you
avoid "impulse" buying, which often
means picking up unhealthy foods.
?Avoid convenience foods like frozen
dinners and "instant" foods, which will
cost you more than making them on your
own, and are likely to be less healthy than
meals you prepare.
?Try drinking water instead of sodas.
Not only is it healthier, it can save you
money when you go out to eat.
?Don't always plan your meals around
meats. Instead, let your main course be
whole grains, such as rice, or beans like
bean soups and re fried beans in wraps.
?If you have freezer space, purchase
frozen vegetables, which arc fresher and
often cheaper than canned vegetables.
?Choose lean protein meats such as
chicken, turkey, and seafood.
?Try making your own snacks and con
venience foods at home.
?Read labels and follow serving sizes.
?Cook once, eat twice. (Freeze foods
for later meals)
?Combine exercise with healthy eat
High Five award
The SECU Family
Program was awarded
HandsOn Northwest North
Carolina's sixth annual
High Five award on Nov.
The High Five award is
designed to recognize and
honor a nonprofit within
Forsyth, Davidson, Davie,
Stokes, Surry or Yadkin
Counties that has demon
strated an imaginative or
creative way to improve
program and/or service
delivery, create a new pro
gram, or develop a unique
or inventive method to
address a particular prob
lem or challenge.
The winner is selected
through a competitive
process from local nomina
tions. The award comes
with a $5,000 cash prize
that can be used at the win
The SECU Education
Program was created in
2012 by a physician who
was concerned about the
failure to incorporate care
givers into medical discus
sions and treatment plans, a
lack of appreciation for the
skills and perspectives of
those working in various
health care disciplines, and
a lack of medical student
interaction with caregivers. '
With that need in mind, the
SECU Family House
developed and piloted the
Education Program, which
between health care stu
dents and the guests who
stay at the Family House.
The program also pro
vides enhanced care and
individualized services to
the guests of the Family
House, as well as a unique
environment for health care
students. The SECU
Family House a 45-bed
room non-profit lodging
facility that is specially
designed to provide afford
able, comfortable lodging
for families and patients
who are in Winston-Salem
for treatment of long-term
or chronic conditions.
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