Diabetes and African Americans: Myths, Spirituality and More
African Americans are at especially high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In recognition of National Diabetes Month, I interviewed Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN, author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes. She is an award winning registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, national speaker and Huffington Post blogger.
Jill: You wrote a terrific book, The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes. Why did you write a book specifically for African Americans?
Constance: Despite the numbers of African Americans who have or are at risk for diabetes, there are very few books that address the health concerns that are unique to this population—and fewer still that are written by someone who shares the culture, history and health concerns of the readers. The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes was written specifically for African-Americans—a group that suffers disproportionately from diabetes. It speaks to the reader in a voice that is warm and familiar, but that holds a decided cultural and medical authority.
Jill: How does spirituality affect diabetes control?
Constance: Generally speaking African Americans tend to be a community of believers—and the spirituality that infuses their lives has an impact on how they feel about physical affliction, healing, and the relationship between faith and medicine. Individual beliefs have an overt or subtle influence on how one copes with diabetes. This is why each chapter in my book closes with a passage called “For Your Spirit,” an inspirational, encouraging message that brings home the connection between what’s going on in the body and what’s happening in the soul.
Jill: Let’s bust a couple myths about diabetes. What are a couple of your favorites?
Constance: I have a section in my book Myths, Mystery and Misinformation, where I discuss some of the myths about diabetes. Here are two of the most common myths.
Myth #1: If you love bread, potatoes and pasta, you’re out of luck. Carbs and starches are off-limits if you have diabetes.
Fact: Carbohydrates and starches are part of a healthy diet—even for people with diabetes. You have to control your portions, but you can enjoy a nice pasta salad or a few potatoes if you like.
Myth #2: If you have diabetes, you can expect to lose your sight and limbs eventually.
Fact: Having diabetes doesn’t mean you’re doomed to sightlessness or amputations. Keeping your diabetes under control can prevent the most serious complications.
Jill: Please share a diabetes-friendly, heart-healthy meal that you can put together quickly.
Constance: Here’s a quick meal idea for lunch or a light dinner.
1 cup Black-Eyed Pea and Mushroom Soup, 1 small roll, mixed green salad with vinaigrette, apple and a no calorie beverage
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.
Leave a Reply
Welcome to my Blog
Like most of my patients and clients, I lead a busy life. You probably do too. Fortunately, you don’t need weeks, days or even hours to start living better and healthier. This blog offers timesaving strategies and bite-sized nutrition and health information. Come by often for tips and inspiration to healthy living – no matter how busy you are. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist offering credible, practical nutrition advice to keep busy people healthy. Yes indeed, we can be both busy and healthy.