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Greasy Foods - The Holy Grail Of African American Diet

I do not know about you, but when I was growing up, my mom cooked fried chicken (no, not oven "fried" chicken, we are talking about southern deep fried chicken), macaroni and cheese topped with tons of butter and mounds of cheese, collard greens cooked in chicken fat, hot buttered biscuits and brown gravy for dinner - at least twice a week.

Yes, I know you are salivating right about now. Here is another past time favorite to which I am sure you can relate - deep fried catfish, red beans and rice soaked in oil, candied yams with tons of butter, sugar, and cinnamon and deep fried pork chops.

I can relate. I grew up in a family of 9 where food portions were humongous. I mean we are talking about a 9-year-old whose plate was filled to the edges that was even too much for an adult! Years later, with the same poor dietary habits intact, I ballooned up to 213 pounds!

My Food History Repeated Itself

So there I was 20 years later weighing 185 pounds. I thought I could control it. The smallest I had ever been was 140 pounds. But my weight went up and down my whole life. Finally, I crossed the line where I could not stop eating. I was addicted to fried foods, white flour and sugar, but I did not know that until 3 more years of food agony and an additional weight gain of 18 pounds.

My Health Deteriorated

I come from a long line of strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and high blood pressure. At age 29, severely overweight and a heavy smoker, I was headed down the same path as my ancestors.

My Aha Moment

There was a voice inside me that said, "Shalisha, you are lost when it comes to food. Get help." I did. I was introduced to a food plan that was abundant, healthy, delicious, and made me lose 90 pounds in 6 months. This was no diet. It was a lifestyle change. So here are the top 5 reasons I think the African American diet is in dire need of an overhaul:

1.The African American diet is extremely high in fat
2.The African American diet is extremely high in sugar
3.The African American diet lacks fruit
4.The African American diet lacks vegetables
5.The African American diet is extremely high in sodium

If you want to start eating healthy and lose weight:

1.Stop deep frying and start broiling
2.Cut out sugar and white flour
3.Include at least 5 servings of vegetables daily
4.Include at least 3 servings of fruit daily
5.Drink plenty of water (8-12 cups)
6.Take the salt shaker off the table

One more thing - dare to be different! Demand that your neighborhood Key Food supermarket carry Fage Fat-Free Greek Yogurt. Demand that your friendly neighborhood Met Food supermarket carry organic fruits and vegetables.

All it takes is one person to lead the way. Be a power of example and show other African Americans in the community that it is not only okay to eat healthy - it is a matter of life and death. By making those 6 small dietary adjustments, you will go a long way to improving your health and losing weight.

Shalisha Alston is an African American weight loss consultant. She lost 90 pounds in 6 months and you can do the same.

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