Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cultural Eating Habits

This article is about a Puerto Rican woman who found out that she was at risk for some health issues like heart disease.  She notes that it is not part of her culture to eat certain types of healthy foods.  This is an issue that hits close to home for me, and many other I know.

As an African-American, and a member of a 5-person working class family, I grew up eating what I will call "not the best" foods.  We ate a lot of pre-packaged foods, a lot of pork, a lot of cheaper cuts of meat, canned vegetables, and indulged in our favorites like mac and cheese what I would say is too often.  Not to say that I grew up on Pop Tarts alone; my mother was a stickler for presenting a square meal to us at dinner-- protein, starch and vegetables every night.  But those things weren't always fresh or homemade, only to the extent that time and income allowed.

I venture to say that this is not unlike many Americans.  Culturally, minorities tend to lean towards these types of foods for a bevy of reasons including access, income, tastes and time.  And also because these types of foods that are bad for you tend to also be very good, in their own kind of artificially flavored, high fructose corn syrupy, sodium packed sort of way. 

Today, many of us know much more about how to choose healthier foods but there is still that pull towards what our parents and families have done for years that is hard to let go of.  I can't lie....I gets DOWN at Thanksgiving! Mac and cheese, turkey with gravy, stuffing, the works.  But the rest of the time I try to limit my beef consumption, skip meat at least once a week, eat only lean meats, and eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies with a huge side of water.  In my opinion, choosing a healthy life doesn't mean letting go of some of the cultural food traditions that are not so good.  It just means limiting those indulgences; plus, when you have them they taste soooo much better!


jannel said...

This is so spot on. I grew up in a similar household and being an adult it shocks me when I think about how unhealthy we ate. I love fresh veggies and fruits but I think growing up with a quantity over qualilty is something I still struggle with. Now having a family of my own I make different choices in food. I want my kiddos to grow up with healthy eating habits and for the right foods to make them happy.

The Sukkar Chef said...

We have no other choice! Every single day I have see the consequences of the bad eating habits of people I love. It's hard, but all I can do is do better for myself. When you know better, you do better!