Part 2 of Health Tips for Black Americans will answer the question, “Where do I start, in creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself and loved ones. Part 1 and Part 2 of Health Tips for Black Americans should be read together to take full advantage of this valuable information.
This fact sheet1 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides an excellent guide to improving your health. Black Americans must find ways inexpensive ways to improve our health!
Why is this Health Info Important?
The Office of Minority Health2 (OIH) supplied the following stats about African Americans:
Economics: According to a 2012 Census Bureau report, the average African-American household median income was $33,762 in comparison to $56,565 for non-Hispanic White households. In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 28.1 percent of African-Americans compared to 11.0 percent of non-Hispanic Whites were living at the poverty level. For 2012, the unemployment rate for Blacks was twice that for non-Hispanic Whites (10.3 % and 4.8 %, respectively). This finding was consistent for both men and women.
Insurance Coverage: In 2012, 50.4 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 74.4 percent of non-Hispanic Whites used private health insurance. Also in 2012, 40.6 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 29.3 percent of non-Hispanic Whites relied on Medicaid, public health insurance. Finally, 17.2 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 10.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured.
Better health can save you money that’s needed elsewhere.
How could Obamacare Repeal Affect You?
As a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act looms with no obvious replacement, many experts are already painting a dire portrait of what that may mean for Americans: One million lost jobs, longer workdays, and delayed retirement says an NBC report3 .
As noted above, the future of health care will be adversely affected. You now know some of the reasons why these health care tips are so valuable.
Where do I start?
It can be hard to control your weight when you are not sure what to eat and drink, do not know the best ways to be physically active, or have limited time and money.
Start by talking to your doctor about ways to improve your eating, drinking, and physical activity habits. Consuming healthier foods and beverages and getting regular physical activity may help you reach and stay at a healthy weight. And write down your own questions before your visit, so you are prepared. Jay Harold has a post that could be helpful, “10 Questions To Ask Your Doctor: And More!”
What if I can’t drink milk?
Milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D. If you can’t digest lactose (the sugar found in milk), try these foods for calcium:
- dark leafy vegetables like collard greens or kale
- “lactose-reduced” low-fat or fat-free milk, or soy beverages with added calcium and vitamin D
- orange juice with calcium
Practice making good food and beverage choices
Healthy food and beverage choices give your body the fuel it needs, helps you stay full longer, and improve your health.
The federal dietary guidelines advise adults to consume these foods and beverages:
- fruits and vegetables
- seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans, and unsalted nuts and seeds
- fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, including fortified soy beverages
- whole grains like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice
Think of ways that you can add healthy foods and beverages to your life.
Try these ideas:
- Cover half of your plate with fruits and veggies and choose high-fiber foods like beans and whole-grain breads and cereals. Fruits and veggies may be fresh, canned in 100 percent fruit juice, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. Look for low- or no-salt options when buying canned or frozen veggies.
- Choose a healthy option like a salad topped with grilled chicken (not fried) or ask for a side of steamed veggies instead of fries when you eat away from home.
- Choose water, fat-free milk, or sugar-free coffee or tea rather than sugary beverages.
Write down your ideas for changes you could make to eat and drink healthier and a date when you will start. At first, make one change. Once you have made one change, you can add another.
Tools You Can Use:
Choose foods and beverages with few or no empty calories.
Some examples of foods and beverages that provide nutrients, shown in forms with and without empty calories, are:
|Foods and Beverages with Some Empty Calories
|Foods and Beverages with Few or No Empty Calories
|baked chicken breast without skin
|fruit canned in syrup
|fruit canned in 100 percent fruit juice
Making better choices, like baking instead of frying chicken, can help you cut down on the added sugars and solid fats you eat or drink.
Commit to eating and drinking fewer foods, beverages, and snacks that have solid fats and/or added sugars.
Many foods and beverages have empty calories (calories from solid fats and/or added sugars). Calories from solid fats and added sugars are often called empty calories because they have few or no nutrients.
- Solid fats (or saturated fats) are fats that are solid at room temperatures, like butter and shortening. Some solid fats are found naturally in foods. They can also be added to foods like potato chips by food companies.
- Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added when foods or beverages like soda are made.
Solid fats and added sugars can add a lot of calories to what you eat and drink. As noted in the above chart, fried chicken, whole milk, and sugar-sweetened cereal are examples of foods and beverages with some empty calories. Baked chicken breast without skin, fat-free milk, and whole-grain cereal are examples of foods and beverages with few or no empty calories.
Jay Harold, like many Black Americans, must improve his food choices.
A few empty calories is okay, but most people get too many. You can limit empty calories by consuming foods and beverages with empty calories less often or by decreasing the amount you eat or drink.
Try these ideas to reduce or cut empty calories:
- Replace snacks like chips and sweets with fat-free yogurt or baby carrots. And buy low-fat and sugar-free versions of your favorite snacks to limit the amount of empty calories you eat or drink. Check that these products have fewer calories than the regular products.
- When planning get-togethers, find ways to cut back on sugar, salt, and fat as you prepare your favorite recipes. For example, instead of frying meat and veggies, bake or grill them to cut down on the amount of fat. And use low-fat, low-sugar mayo and dressings.
- If you love dessert or have a sweet tooth, replace cakes, cookies, and other treats with fresh fruit and low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
Think of ways you can cut empty-calorie foods and beverages.
Write down your ideas about how you will replace empty-calorie foods and beverages with healthier options. Once you have made one change and are used to it, you can make another.
How many calories you need to stay healthy depends on your age, genes, sex, height, weight, and how active you are. In general, men need more calories than women do, and younger adults need more calories than adults in midlife and older. Talk to your doctor about your calorie needs.
Sodium (salt) can increase your blood pressure. The Dietary Guidelines advise that African Americans should aim for no more than 1,500 mg a day, including sodium from processed foods.
Before buying packaged foods, read the Nutrition Facts label to find out how much sodium, solid fat, and other nutrients are in one serving of the food. The label also tells you how many servings are included in the package.
For more information and tools to help you plan healthy meals, read the WIN brochure Just Enough for You: About Food Portions4 .
Hair Care Tips
You can be active and still keep your hair looking good. Talk to your hair stylist about a hair care routine and style that fit your active life. Try these ideas:
- a natural hairstyle or a style that can be wrapped or pulled back
- a short haircut
- braids, twists, or locs
How can I be more physically active?
To improve your health, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week (or 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week). This type of activity speeds up your heart rate and breathing. You should be able to speak several words in a row while doing aerobic activities, but you should not be able to have a long chat.
Physical activity can be broken up into 10-minute sessions throughout the day. For example, take a brisk 10-minute walk before work, one after lunch, and another after dinner to get to 30 minutes a day.
To lose weight and keep it off, you may need more activity. Aim for 300 minutes per week (or 60 minutes a day, 5 days a week).
Try these moderate-intensity activities to reach your goal:
- walking briskly
- water aerobics
As you become more comfortable, consider adding more vigorous activities. Examples include these:
- aerobic dancing
- heavy gardening (digging and shoveling)
In addition to aerobic activity, on at least 2 days per week, try activities that strengthen your muscles. Examples are exercises that use hand weights or your own body weight.
Think about your weekly goal and the activities you will do each day to meet your goal.
Try these ideas:
- Ask a friend or family member to be your workout buddy and plan an activity together. Sign up for a low-cost fitness class at a local center or make plans to visit a park or museum where you can walk together safely.
- Take a daily 15-minute walk if your schedule allows and you can do so safely. If the weather is bad or, you don’t have a safe place to take a walk near your home, visit a local shopping center and walk indoors.
- In addition to your moderate-intensity activities, build physical activity into the things you do every day. This can be very helpful when your time is limited, or you need to care for your children. Do housework with energy, park farther away, or get off public transportation one block earlier and walk the rest of the way.
Write down your goal for getting more active and how you will meet it. Track your progress to help you stick with it.
|Goal and How I Will Meet It
Beat your physical activity roadblocks!
|Then Try This…
|don’t have child care
|Be active with your children: bike, play tag, or walk together.
|don’t like or don’t want to exercise
|Do something you enjoy, like dancing to the radio or planning active outings with family or friends.
|don’t have a safe place near your home to be active
|Work out in your home to a video from the library or walk in a local shopping center.
Stay on track.
Once a physical activity becomes a part of your routine, you need to stick with it. Keep things interesting, avoid slip-ups, and find ways to cope with what life throws at you. Try these ideas if you start to slip:
- Plan ahead to avoid setbacks. Find a backup activity you can do in case of bad weather or injury. If you do have a setback, regroup and focus on meeting your goal again as soon as you can.
- Mix up your routine with new activities, physical activity buddies, and healthy rewards.
- Make fitness a social event. When you invite your friends and family to join you, physical activity can be fun. Perhaps members of your place of worship may want to start a physical activity program or walking club.
For more ideas, see the brochure Changing Your Habits: Steps to Better Health5 .
The path to improving your eating, drinking, and regular physical activity habits isn’t easy. But don’t give up. Remember, consuming healthy foods, beverages, and snacks and getting regular physical activity over time are key to a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” You can and must fight the battle to get and stay healthier.
Please take this advice of Muhammad Ali and give back to others. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” ~ Muhammad Ali