Break Room: Getting Healthy

When First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move! campaign we were all ears as the initiative focuses on childhood obesity. The alarming numbers caused us to gasp, as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that approximately 12.5 million children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 are obese, with rates from 2007 to 2008 showing African American girls at a greater risk. Clearly, our children are unhealthy. We want them to grow up without the worries of diabetes or hyper tension. However, do we as adults really understand and have a grasp for what is a healthy model for daily nutrition; not only for our children but for ourselves?

The research marketing firm TNS conducted The DuPont Teflon Be Cook Aware consumer survey. Out of 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 37 percent report they are cooking more often and 23 percent say they are eating more natural and organic foods. Still, numbers from the CDC reflect that African Americans are at a greater risk when it comes to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer; with 38 percent of African-American males reported as obese and 54.2 percent of African-American females as obese. It is evident that while we may get the message we still have work to do.

“The key is to set realistic goals for your lifestyle and forgive yourself if eat something that’s typically not good. You have to not fear failure,” says Feaster.

“There is a gap between knowing what to do and how to do it,” says Chef Tianna Feaster.

Feaster passionately addresses this gap with her Feast Your Eyes on This brand. As an entrepreneurial personal chef, Feaster has committed herself to educating her clients on how to make healthier food choices and maintain feasible eating habits. She helps her clients plan out their menu, shop for the healthier ingredients, meal preparation and how to properly store leftovers.

Feaster uses herself as an example. At 35, she is constantly on the go giving cooking demonstrations and consulting with clients. She also has fibroids, but by balancing a healthy diet that works for her and exercise, she manages her fibroids pretty well. She plans out her menu for the day, with breakfast being an essential meal. She exercises three times a week and does not eat a lot of carbohydrates. She may crave the taste of a greasy hamburger, but it is not often. Drawing from the days when she and her father would pick fresh vegetables and herbs and make their own hamburgers, she will satisfy the craving and more than likely cook it up in her own kitchen.

Potential clients often approach Feaster about wanting to change their eating habits, but not necessarily knowing what it means or may be a bit reluctant on the account of flavor and taste assumption.

“Some people come to me using buzz words like ‘diet’ or ‘vegetarian’ and then when they hear certain words like ‘organic’ or ‘whole grain’ they may start to freak out. Immediately people want to go ‘yuck!’ when they hear you speak on eating healthy, because they assume it won’t taste good. We have to dispel the myth that when you make healthier eating choices you don’t have to sacrifice the flavor.”

Carlisa Brown-McCain loves to experiment with her spices. “You have to experiment. That’s the trick,” says the 64 year-old vegan.

Brown-McCain started out as a vegetarian before transitioning into a vegan. She took the initiative to commit to healthier eating habits after researching how food is prepared.

“For 30 years I had stopped eating beef, but I continued to eat poultry. I decided to go vegetarian after my research. When I learned how hormones are added to certain foods I said, ‘oh no!'” says Brown-McCain.

Brown-McCain took online courses provided by the Vegetarian Health Institute for a year. She learned how to cook and eat as a vegetarian. Naturally for her the next step would be to go the vegan route. To start, Brown-McCain did a 30-day cleanse that included a 21-day vegan kick start. She eliminated poultry, but continued to eat cheese. Having been a vegan for a little over a year, her diet includes all fruits, vegetables, grains and all beans except butter beans.

“I just don’t like butter beans,” laughs Brown-McCain. She also indulges in limited amounts of raw sugar and loves to make hummus out of chick peas. Because of her healthier eating habits, Brown-McCain has been able to maintain a slim physique.

“I feel energetic, my skin is clearer and my hair doesn’t fall out or shed as much as it use to,” says Brown-McCain.

The downside Brown-McCain has encountered is limited choices when it comes to dinning out.

“Dinning out can be a problem. There aren’t many restaurants that cater to or have vegetarian dishes. If a place doesn’t have a vegetarian menu I end up asking a lot questions about the food, such as is it whole grain or organic. It can be a bit much,” says Brown-McCain.

When it comes to the issue of price for vegetarian products, Brown-McCain does not think it is really an issue. For her, while the prices of vegetarian products are high, she feels it equals out as you are making a nutritional investment for your body.

Even Feaster has her own tip when it comes to pricing healthier food products. “Buy seasonal foods. For example, strawberries are consumed mostly in the summer. You don’t need them all year round,” says Feaster.

In order to successfully change your eating habits, both stress that it is a process and that it takes commitment.

“Take small steps to the ultimate goal. We have to be really committed to changing our mindset about healthy food choices and educating ourselves about living a healthy lifestyle,” says Feaster.

“Take it very slow. One step, one day and one hour at a time. Start by removing your favorite meat and see how long you can last. If you do ok, then move on,” says Brown-McCain.

For more information, including recipes and tips from Chef Tianna Feaster visit