Admittedly, we all chow down around the holidays. It does not matter whether we are Caribbean -American or African-American. Some of us make a conscious decision to go on a diet before Thanksgiving and Christmas so that we can make room for the extra calories that we are going to consume. And from Thanksgiving to sometime after New Years Day, we feel like we have a free pass to eat whatever we want.
Turkey, stuffing, candied yams, ham, mac and cheese, rice and peas, a little curried chicken, jerk chicken on the side. We are determined that a little bit — oh heck — a lot of everything is gonna fit on our plates and we are gonna have ourselves a good ole eatin’ time, even if we feel like we are busting at the seams.
We didn’t eat like that back home. Most of us rarely had seconds at the dinner table. The majority of Caribbean folks who lived in rural areas on the islands would be consider working-class people. We mostly had feasts for weddings and funerals. We ate extremely healthy meals. We did not eat a whole lot of processed foods because nature is what we had. We picked fruits from the trees in our yards or harvest food and root vegetables from the land.
It was not until moving to the United States that we all started developing stomach ailments such as acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, gastric issues, Crohns disease and other diseases that we never heard of.
Folks need to get control of their newly developed eating habits and reel them back in. Get serious about eating healthy and about addressing our stomach issues head on. Do not act like it does not exist. We gave this advice before, but it is worth reiterating. We have to make a conscious decision to eat breakfast like a king or queen, eat lunch like a prince or a princess, and dinner like a pauper. What does that mean, well it means that we need to flip your meals and eat our heaviest meal in the morning, a somewhat lighter meal for lunch and an even lighter meal (breakfast food) or a smoothie for dinner.
How can we possibly eat a super-light dinner during the holidays? Well, it just takes some self-control and planning ahead. We can take a look at the Thanksgiving spread on the table and “choose” to put healthy portions on our plate.
Choose to put a tablespoon or two of candied yams on the plate, a couple tablespoons of greens/callaloo, a small slice of turkey or a small (palm-sized) piece of meat on the plate and just enjoy it. When you are finished eating, grab yuh takeout container and pack it full ah rice and peas, curry goat, some turkey, some more candied yams, oxtails, greens. Take all that good food home and enjoy it for the next two mornings at your king-sized breakfast. Give yourself all day to digest it.
On the University of Technology’s Institute of Food Technology Warsaw website, an assistant professor points out that “when you eat breakfast does matter.” She said that people “should eat breakfast within an hour of waking up because then, the level of glucose in our bodies is really low and we need to boost it by eating a balanced, wholesome meal.”
In addition, she pointed out that it is easier to digest food in the mornings because the gastric juices in the stomach are flowing more. Remember that eating breakfast on a regular basis increases the metabolism and contributes to weight loss or weight maintenance so it can be done.
Turkey Day may not be a traditional Caribbean holiday but since it is now a part of our American family celebration every year, we most certainly can bring our own flavor to it. And for those of us that are dealing with stomach ailments, we can still eat with our families and not have to suffer by eating the wrong foods and over-stuffing our plates just because we can. Here are some suggestions for eating a king-sized healthy breakfast as a regular part of your diet:
Caribbean dishes that will make you feel like a champion as you cut back on the grease: Steamed cabbage (or callaloo) and saltfish is a good meat dish substitute. Ackee and saltfish always yum!! Add a boiled egg for extra protein. Another popular dish is steamed fish topped with lots of chopped onions, tomatoes, okra, carrot and celery. Adding Grace fish soup mix for flavor is amazing. Unprocessed carbs that are commonly served with these dishes are boiled green bananas, boiled yams (AKA Name) yellow or white. Chicken broth is a great substitute for oil or margarine. Or use a healthy oil, such as coconut oil (scientists have confirmed the benefits of coconut oil).
Consult your physician before making any changes to your diet.