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An Honest Conversation About Health, Black People & COVID-19

April 13, 2020

 

It seems my past few articles have been peppered with COVID-19 talk but it’s hard to talk about contemporary times and issues without mentioning it. Especially considering that black people and especially, black women, are the most affected demographic. In Louisiana alone, black people make up only 33% of the population, yet make up 70% of the COVID-19 cases. These trends in the virus are virtually mirrored in Illinois, Michigan, and the Carolinas.

Statistics show that in counties, or areas with predominantly black residents, there is a two to three times rate of infection in comparison to predominantly white communities.The reasons for many of the deaths are pre-existing health conditions such as: Heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, auto-immune issues, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, and lung disease. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease run in my own family and it is a little known secret that the reasons these diseases are so prevalent in the black community is because of our lifestyles.

Once it became clear that not only yes, black folk can get The Rona but that it is disproportionately affecting us, I began to see a lot of think pieces coming out about the structural and racial implications of these statistics. I am not here to refute the cries of structural racism as part of the reason but let's be honest...That’s not the full story. Ladies, the way we eat, our rampant obesity statistics, and our lack of exercise culture is leading us down a path of ill health. In the age of Corona, it is more important than ever to be mindful of our habits and how we are treating our bodies. 

I think one of the most important things we should examine is our diets. Health is mostly the fuel, or foods that you are feeding your body with and what you are giving your body to make it function. That means eating more leafy greens, lentils, putting more variety of vegetables on your plate, and eating more low sugar fruits such as berries, as well as cutting down on red meats, and eating more lean meats. It also means forgoing fried foods, high sugar foods,  and highly processed foods.

The meal by meal breakdown of buying whole foods and preparing them is also cheaper than buying “cheap” fast food everyday. For example: a meal at McDonald’s, depending on what you get, costs around 7 bucks and if you get one meal everyday, comes to around 50 bucks a week. However, 50 bucks at Fry’s buying mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, spices and chicken breast, buys me enough food for two weeks. Shopping on the outer edges of the grocery store is also a good way to easily pick up healthy foods you need while forgoing the overly processed stuff. 

Growing your own food is also a good way to monitor what you're putting in your body. There is no better time to start learning how to do so than now, in my opinion. With the quarantine, leaving the house is more risky now and run of the mill grocery trips can lead to exposure. It is also spring, which is growing season for some of my favorite veggies and fruits. I am lucky enough to now live in a house with a nice backyard for gardening but I started growing my own food on the windowsill of my studio apartment, so no excuses! It’s not only a relaxing hobby but it helps me stay connected to mother nature, whilst teaching me necessary survival skills.

I really hope that we as a collective realize that we have an unhealthy connection with our food. We as black women go through a unique life experience and unique mental stressors because of this. Many of us eat the way we do as a form of comfort. Which is understandable but certainly not okay, as it reflects in our dismal health statistics. You can make healthy food taste good and if you make the excuse that you live in a food dessert but somehow still find a way to put those weaves and wigs on your head, then you can travel a little further to a grocery store.

Liv is a new blogger for DDS Magazine. She graduated University in 2018, with a degree in History & English Lit and in her free time is an avid creative writer, History & Fashion enthusiast, as well as a cat-mom to three kittens. When she is not creating, she works at a children's non-profit and enjoys spending her weekends doing Pilates, hiking, shopping and indulging in Sci-fi novels. 

 

 

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