Green is the new Black: Rethinking the Black American Diet

Why was this ridiculous picture above the only one I could find of a black person eating vegetables?  I’ve said it before & I’m not going to dwell on it too long but eating healthy & incorporating green juices & living foods into your diet is not a white thing, it is not a rich thing, it is not a new-age or California thing.  Real talk: I only have two friends of color (and out of those 2, only 1 black friend) that strive to eat a clean diet.  I’m not talking about my Facebook friends or any other online community.  I’m talking about the people in my immediate everyday life.  When I say clean I mean no preservatives, packages foods & refined sugars.  A clean diet is about leafy greens, fruits & vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbs & healthy fats–fresh & organic, & grass fed, free-range, hormone-free & wild if you eat meat and/or seafood. I want to see people of color in the United States eat healthier, live longer & be more informed about what they are putting in their bodies.

I’ve always been a free spirit & ready to try something new.  When I was younger & I would do something to potentially have my blackness questioned, I would immediately feel self-conscious & insecure.  First it was swimming, then skiing, then sushi.  Well, I grew up & I got over it.  I realized there was nothing wrong with me because it’s not a “black thing.”  Random black person: “You eat that shit?  Black people don’t eat that.”  Yes, they do…because I am.  Or I love this: “Oh your on that peace & overstand holistic ish.”  As if I’m going door-to-door trying to save the sinners. It’s so sad that The Man has us thinking healthy foods are not for us or that eating things “sugar-free,” “fat-free,” or “all-natural” is equivalent to eating healthy.  Reprogramming 30+ years of misinformation is & continues to be a heavy task for me.  Even at 8 and 4 years old, my boys believe that McDonald’s is treat; that it’s some place special, a reward.    That’s my fault.  When I was growing up, McDonald’s was a treat.  I remember on special occasions going through the drive-thru with my mom.  We would eat a couple of the fries & then seal the bag tight to keep the “freshness” in until we got home.  We didn’t eat it every day. My mom & dad cooked often.  But things done changed & fast food became a weekly, oftentimes daily thing of convenience for most people.  It was a cheap substitute for the real thing.  You know what BAD stands for?  The Black American Diet. Why do you think there are so many fast food & carry-out spots in the ‘hood?  Why do we get almost no info on how to plan a proper diet & our kids are eating chicken nuggets & bagged chocolate milk at school?  Since starting this blog 2 weeks ago I have had no less than 15 people of color tell me they went out & bought a juicer, want to do the juice feast, or are making consciously healthier decisions about their diet as a result of the blog.  I’m over the moon because I want black & brown people to be informed & equipped with the tools to be healthier, happier & more beautiful.  Don’t get me wrong, I want white people to eat healthy too…I love white people.  Some of my favorite people are white (a shout out to Mom & Dad!) but with the obesity rates, diabetes, hypertension & heart disease at alarming rates in the black community there clearly is a need to give green some swagger.

Many of you have been inboxing me on Facebook or emailing me about how to get started juicing because I think many of you are really interested but I’m guessing there are three issues: A) it’s a daunting endeavor B) you don’t have a juicer and; C) you are a lil’ lazy…yes, I said lazy. We live in an instant gratification society & that’s how we got in this packaged processed mess in the first place.  I’m not going to lie, as counter-intuitive as it seems, learning to eat healthy is damn hard.  First mangos are the hot new item, then it was soy soy soy, ok, now research shows soy is bad for you, next green tea is the miracle extract, then pomegranates, acai, goji berries, coconut water…and the list goes on.  We are a marketers dream.  We pick it up in a package or a bottle.  It’s labeled “all-natural” or organic so why bother reading the labels, it’s good for us, right?  Green smoothies & juicing are all the rage.  Companies like Naked Juice & Odwalla offer on-the-go options like “Green Machine” so why bother making them at home?  We are deceived into thinking we are taking control of our bodies & making a healthy impact.  WRONG!  I can think of a gang of reasons why you should juice & blend at home but the first that come to mind are cost, quality of the ingredients & efficacy of the finished product–meaning, how much nutritional value there actually is in a bottled drink that has been pasteurized (heated, killing live enzymes), bottled (peppered with preservatives to give it shelf life) and refrigerated for long periods of time.  Blending & juicing your own is much cheaper, you can control what is going into your food–no hidden ingredients–and it can’t get much fresher without being plucked straight from your garden.  So no juicer?  I bet you have a blender… 😉

A glass of fresh squeezed juice or a blended smoothie should be consumed within 30 minutes of juicing in order to get all of the benefit & to avoid oxidation.  (Oxidation occurs when oxygen hits the exposed fruit–think apples or avocado browning). So imagine how very little nutrients are left in a Naked juice sitting in the grocery store.  Pretty much zilch.  Sorry to burst your bubble if you just stocked up on cases of Naked juice at Costco…but they taste good, right?  Not nearly as good as yours after you have perfected your own!  So I would love to help y’all through this process.  I started juicing seriously about three years ago & before that I had about a year of Googling & YouTube-ing everything.  My hubs bought me an inexpensive but effective juicer for Christmas (Jack Lalane which many of you use) & I got to experimenting.  It took me almost that whole year to get over my fear of greens & veggies in my juice.  I thought green juice had to taste nasty in order have life-changing benefits.  But for once, I was wrong.  😉 I have made a couple of not so tasty juices but as I got more knowledgable & efficient, I started sharing my juices and smoothies with friends & family.  I was getting pleasantly surprised looks & sincere compliments from even the biggest non-believers.  Trust me, they wanted so badly to think it tasted nasty & prove me wrong.  But the greens don’t lie!   I’m still working on my mother.  She just can’t get past the color even after my dad who didn’t eat Chinese food until the new Millennium (true story) gave it two thumbs up.  But I’m working on her.

I’ll be honest…I’m not sure where to start as far as helping you because I’m not sure what info I can provide in order to get you where you want to be.  I started the blog with a few posts on getting started but it really is so much info, I may have made some assumptions or left out something critical to your individual success.  And yes, some of you are just lazy & want me to just give you the nitty gritty without all the filler or background.  I love talking about this stuff…that’s why I started this blog.  However, if you are emailing me & asking me things I already covered in the blog, I will refer you back to…the blog.  After you have perused my posts on juice feastingsetting goals & planningpoor planning, and my recipe for sexy green lemonade (my ride-or-die green drink recipe) comment or ask questions on this post & I promise I’ll answer every single one.  If it’s too detailed or too personal feel free to email me at kimcheeandcollards@gmail.com.  If I can’t answer it, maybe someone else can or I will get the info for you.  I have a long way to go myself & I’m discovering new foods, sweeteners & supplements every day.  So remember, every question is relevant because we are all at different places with regards to our health & diet.  No one will laugh at you or point & stare…unless you are eating a bag of Doritos & washing it down with an ice-cold soda.  Just kidding, even then I won’t laugh at you (to your face).  Again, kidding!  Some of you are interested in dabbling & others are trying to make this a life change.  No matter what your goals, incorporating green juices & smoothies on a regular basis will affect you in so many positive ways! You may even find yourself juicing more & more over time. It’s that much less junk your eating, you’re getting your fruits & veggies in & you may even lose some weight, have more energy, sleep better, poop easier, have clearer skin & eyes, stronger hair and nails & cure ailments like allergies & migraines you never knew could be cured with food.  You can read all you want but until you try it yourself, experiment with the flavors, the amounts, etc. you won’t truly “get it.”  I am personally moving towards a majority raw diet.  Sounds crazy, I know. Sounded crazy to me 4 years ago too but now my goal is to make green the new black.

Ask away!  Until then…

love & light,

MK

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12 thoughts on “Green is the new Black: Rethinking the Black American Diet

  1. You said that juicing doesn’t cost that much more…how does cost play into a weekly meal planning grocery trip? Will it add a lot more to your weekly costs since you are buying so many more vegetables? I buy a good amount of raw vegetables now at the regular grocery store, but would imagine adding even more to my grocery list with juicing.

    • Great question. It will take some getting used to & I won’t lie, there will be some trial & error. Don’t be too ambitious initially because you’ll end up throwing some away and thats definitely not cost-friendly. I would tell you to first buy enough ingredients to make a serving or two. Start with a bunch of spinach, a couple green apples & a lemon. Try the spinach & apple first. Do you like it? Pour a little into a cup and add a lil’ lemon. Do you still like it? More or less? Next time try chard or kale in addition to in place of the spinach. Do you like that? And so on…
      To answer your question, ideally juicing/blending should replace a meal. If you find yourself too hungry, stick to smoothies for awhile because they will fill you up. As you discover portion control your stomach will shrink & you won’t need all that extra food. Make sure you are eating small snacks/meals every 3ish hours.

  2. I’m interested in the concept and all the benefits but my concern is that my husband are “thick” if you will and most of my diets fail bc we are always hungry! My main reason of interest would be weight loss so are their certain greens that target that specifically?

    • Tosha, if you are eating the right foods you can eat as much as you want. Of course you want to limit your fats & grains but pretty much everything else is open. For example, anytime you got hungry it would be ok to eat something like roasted veggies (just toss in olive oil & sea salt or whatever spices) topped with your favorite natural marinara (Newman’s is a good natural & accessible brand) and a handful of cheese.

      Weight loss is a great reason to eat cleaner. I’m not sure if you are talking about the juice feast or eating cleaner in general but knowing you & hubs I would start off slow & focus on cutting a few things at a time. If it’s belly fat that is the main concern (that is mine!) then I would cut your white stuff & processed foods. I bet with that alone he would see a difference. Focus on that & continue to eat whole grains like brown rice & quinoa but try to limit it to one serving a day still trying to keep your diet as clean as possible. At dinner portion things out, cook as much meat as you know you should eat & if you are still hungry eat more vegetables. (Rule of thumb: palm size piece for weight loss, to the first finger joints to maintain & to the tips to gain.) Email me if you need some hearty dinner ideas. My hubs has a healthy appetite as well!

  3. Thank you for all of that. Fist pumping….you tell us like you mean it. I’m about 3 weeks into it and finding it easier each day to continue

  4. Preach! I agree 100% I love to cook and I try to make as many of my meals from whole foods as possible. Admittedly, I don’t always buy organic, but I do buy local and I eat over 80% of my food from scratch. It’s a shame that people think they don’t have time to eat well. My schedule is insane, but I double up on healthy meals and put half in the freezer. I make steel cut oats overnight and to have them ready for breakfast during my commute. We need to do better!

    • Yes, Keeley! All great points…even if a person isn’t ready to make a ton of changes at the very least try to eat from farom to table as much as possible. I don’t always buy organic either…I am on a budget & it can get expensive sometimes but I try to as much as possible. With fruits and veggies if not organic I peel the skins. And SO on point with the advanced prep. I cannot stress enough how planning for the week can make all the difference between success and failure. I try but don’t always succeed at making sauces, salads, juices on Sundays to make my life easier during the week. making steel cut oats the night before is a great idea since they take a while to cook. Do you wanna share your oatmeal recipe?

  5. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
    I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉
    Cheers!

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