Comunidad al día, Alimentación Saludable con Sabor CaribeñoComunidad al día, Healthy Eating with Caribbean Flavor

SADM #80 Sep/Oct 2018

Paula Thaqi, PhD, Director, Florida Health Department for Broward County

A group of nutrition and fitness advocates is rewriting “healthy eating” information to give it a Caribbean flavor, hoping it will have a bigger impact in the community.

They needed the advice of the community and they offered a $ 25 gift card for their time. The group looked for eight volunteers from the following countries: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

The volunteers attended a focus group meeting and gave opinions on how to make cooking demonstrations, brochures and nutrition lessons more meaningful. The group believes that typical advice on healthy eating is not the most appropriate for many people in the Caribbean. Why? Because they often promote the consumption of vegetables, fruits, cereals, lean meat and dairy products that are not part of their regular diet.

Nutrition information is accepted better if it focuses on healthy foods that island people are familiar with, or if it shows how to substitute their favorite ingredients with healthier options.

For example, cook healthy meals with callaloo as well as kale or spinach. Make picadillo with shredded turkey instead of beef. Use lean ham, multi-grain bread and lower-fat cheese to make a healthier Media Noche sandwich from Cuba. Mix grated cauliflower with white rice.

“People from the Caribbean would be much more receptive to cooking and eating healthy if they recognize the foods or if they learn how to use healthy ingredients in their recipes,” says Farzanna Haffizulla, M.D., Principal Investigator in the project.

After the focus groups give their advice, nutrition advocates will give cooking demonstrations, make presentations on nutrition and distribute flyers and brochures.

It’s called the Caribbean Diaspora Healthy Nutrition Outreach Project, led by Nova Southeastern University’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine (NSU MD).

The idea for the project came from the Nutrition and Fitness Task Force, led by the Florida Department of Health in Broward (DOH-Broward). Dr. Haffizulla, a native of Trinidad who is NSU MD’s Assistant Dean for Community & Global Health, secured a $15,000 NSU grant to make it happen.

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