Written by Daman De Leon, Health and Wellness Editor, The Star of Zion
During the mid-to-late 1990s there was a common commercial catchphrase that was marketed throughout the country: WWJD. “WWJD” are the initials for “What would Jesus do?”. It was a very interesting phenom, to say the least, and as usual, it was used for the commercial marketing agenda to increase the commerce of selling merchandise. It is one aspect of what I call “Commercial Christianity”.
However as entertaining and catchy as this seasonal gimmick was, it has its prolific purposes. Needless to say it can be thought-provoking when there is genuine conviction, and so I’d like to create an umbrella of imagination with this article: “WWJE” (What would Jesus eat)?
Almost half of U.S. adults, or 46%, have a poor-quality diet, with too little fish, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans, and too much salt, sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats. Additional research shows U.S. kids are doing even worse: More than half, or 56%, have a poor diet. The typical American diet is too high in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, and does not have enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium, and fiber. With an obesity rate of 90%, Tonga is one of the world's unhealthiest countries and boasts an average diet that is high in saturated fat. Although free-range meats are available, most meat comes in a tin and is packed with sodium.
African-Americans, specifically those who live in low-income neighborhoods of lower socio-economic status, have less access to quality foods and sufficient healthcare. According to a report on the state of obesity, approximately 47.8 percent of African-Americans are obese compared to 32.6 percent of Whites. In order to access how culture influences have effected the African-American diet, it is necessary to look briefly at the history of African-Americans in the United States. Different types of foods caused by the cultural fusion of the English settlers, native Americans, and African slaves was the basics of Southern cuisine. The African slaves learned how to fry, boil, and roast dishes using pork, pork fat, corn, sweet potatoes, and local green leafy vegetables which were the styles of cooking used by the British, French, Americans, and Spanish. The Africans slaves brought black-eyed peas, rice, yams, okra and watermelon from their country. A lot of the foods that Black Americans eat today are influenced by the dominant American culture. Most of us believe that by eating healthy we are giving up part of our culture and are more reluctant to giving up the soul food. We want to be good hostesses, and social graces prevent guests from asking for healthier foods. Many friends and relatives are resistant to eating healthier types of soul food because they feel that it will not taste as good. Let me assure you that it will. I eliminated Pork from my diet many years ago, along with a significant reduction in Red-Meat consumption (yep, that Sirloin Steak), and moderation of social drinking. Smoking (of any kind) is one of the worst things you can do to the human body.
by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC
We as humans only have one body, and we are to be good stewards. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Since the typical soul food diet involves large amounts of meat, fat, and sugar, there is a large risk of health related illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, and stroke resulting from eating this type of diet. African-Americans typically choose foods such as fried chicken, barbecued ribs, baked macaroni and cheese, sugary fruit drinks, and sweets such as sweet potato pie, which are typical soul food meals. In his article, “Exercise and Good Diet Play a Major Role in Longevity of Most African-Americans,” Donald Scott (1999), writes about the health problems that plague minority groups. Many ethnic groups have higher incidences of diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart disease when compared to the white population. Another study published in The Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that 35 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S may be attributed to dietary factors. Education is also key to helping African-Americans eat a more healthy diet. Many African-Americans receive their nutritional information from television and radio. They also tend to receive nutritional information from their doctors. It has also been reported that many Black Americans have problems understanding nutrition guidelines. According to Dixon (1997), “Media focused on African-American audiences have much credibility, particularly if the sources are people of color” (p. 3B). If churches and other organizations held seminars to encourage healthier eating habits, it would help the community to make healthier choices. It would also help to teach more adults about their African ancestors and how they ate, since they ate much more differently than African-Americans do today. With this knowledge, they wouldn’t have to feel like they were giving up their culture. In a study titled “Cultural Aspects of African-American Eating Patterns” (Airhihenbuwa & Kumanyika, 1996), it was found that many African-Americans did not know the origins of soul food and were under the assumption that foods such as sweet potatoes and chicken originated in Africa. The study also found that many Black Americans feel that soul food is unhealthy and that the food should be modified so that it would contain less saturated fat and salt. It is possible to pass down healthier cooking methods to future generations of African-Americans (Airhihenbuwa & Kumanyika, 1996).
So what was the diet that Yeshua (Jesus) ate?
Well, Jesus essentially ate a Mediterranean diet rich in whole grains, fish, fruit and vegetables and with modest amounts of olive oil, meat and wine. Raised in a Jewish household, he would’ve adhered to the Kosher Dietary Laws of his culture.
Moderation is key!!
ADA survey says African-Americans’ nutrition attitudes differ in many ways. (1997, September 15). The Tennessee Tribune, p. 24. Retrieved November 3, 2007, from Ethnic News Watch (ENW) database (Document ID: 495735451).
Airhihenbuwa, C .O., & Kumanyika, S. (1996, September). Cultural aspects of African-American eating patterns. Ethnicity & Health, 1(3), 245. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database.
Black culture contributes to obesity. (2004, October 3). Philadelphia Tribune: Obesity, p. 3. Retrieved December 8, 2007, from Ethnic News Watch (ENW) database (Document ID: 732404361).
Clark, L. (1999, January 27). Poor eating habits - African-Americans at risk, survey reveals: Food guide pyramid; path to better nutrition and better health. Sentinel, p. C10. Retrieved December 8, 2007, from Ethnic News Watch (ENW) database (Document ID: 490560711).