Mental health and nutrition go hand in hand, however that is not spoken about often. Everything we put in our body impacts us either positively or negatively. Whether it be food, drugs/alcohol, or even media consumption, it impacts your mental health. Traditionally as an African American we were given the scraps of foods and expected to make delicious and filling meals with items our slave owners refused to eat. Those were often not the healthiest options but it was all we had. According to studies, nearly 48% of African Americans are considered obese. Not only does obesity affect physical health but mental health as well.
There are several factors contributing to the obesity rates of American Americans such as lack of access, lack of education, and lack of physical activity.
The most important factor driving the obesity rate of African Americans is the lack of access to healthy and affordable foods. Most predominantly owned black neighborhoods are food deserts. Food deserts are defined as, "an impoverished area where residents lack access to healthy foods." If I live in a community where the closest food market is not in walking distance but I have access to fast food restaurants or corner stores and gas stations, unfortunately those are my only options.
The next driving factor of the obesity rate is lack of education. We are not being taught how to cook healthy foods, the benefits of foods, or the importance to our longterm health and quality of life by eating healthy. There is a taboo in our community that healthy foods are nasty such as fruits and vegetables. There is also a taboo that healthy foods are expensive. I will debunk that theory later. We have the power to make anything taste great! Our ancestors are guiding our hands in the kitchen adding the perfect amount of spice and great flavors. Everything we put in our body either has a positive or negative impact. Fruits and vegetables are high in iron, vitamins, antioxidants and the list goes on. Natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats are also beneficial for mental health and wellness.
Last but not least, we as African Americans are not as active. Several factors impact that such as our schedules, balancing work, life, and family. Plus there is a wage gap affecting our. ability to afford a gym membership. Also, most of our neighborhoods are not walking friendly or safe to work out in the community. We have to be creative in our journey of becoming active.
As a woman on a budget myself, I am always searching for healthy pocket friendly stores to shop in. My favorite store for groceries is Aldi. I can find everything I need and want from Aldi at an affordable price. I shop weekly for groceries never spending more than $85 a trip. Last weekend I shopped for the week and only spent $61 on fruits, vegetables, herbs, and salmon. Take a look at what I brought below.