Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean that we’re not real, and nowhere are actor and activist Jesse William’s words more apt than the area of our health. People of colour are susceptible to a whole range of chronic health issues and often times, cultural issues and superstitions are a barrier to treatment and prevention.
Pharmacist, Funke Adeniji, is a woman on a mission to change the perception of healthy living within the African Caribbean community through her debut book, The Truth About Health Exposed. We interviewed her to shed light on what are some of the biggest misconceptions and obstacles that she has come across.
Melan Mag: Give us a brief overview of what you do?
Funke Adeniji: I’m a pharmacist, author and CEO of a sports initiative called Women’s Elite Sports Empowerment Initiative (WESIE), which uses sports as a health and social empowerment tool.
MM: What made you want to write such a book?
FA: I felt there was a need for people to have a more holistic overview of what being healthy is as it is a lot more than just having your ‘five a day and fitness’. In addition, I felt there was a need to make being healthy less complicated than often portrayed by inspiring people to create their own unique healthy lifestyle that suits them as individuals as one size doesn’t fit all.
MM: What are the main health issues faced in our community?
FA: I think there are many health issues facing our community and the fact is that there are a lot of us at high risk of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension as a result of our ethnicity. I feel the emphasis should change to us looking inwards at our health-related behaviours with a view to improving these as that’s what we have the power to change.
MM: What three things should we practise to give us the best chance of a healthy life?
FA: Hmmm….that’s an interesting question. I think I would make reference to my book and pick out three of the 10 principles listed which are:
1) To focus on habits rather than effort.
2) To be creative in your approach.
3) To focus on living active rather than being active.
MM: What’s the strangest reason you’ve heard given by a person not looking after their health?
FA: A diabetic telling me that he doesn’t like the taste of water hence insisting on taking his diabetic medicines with coke!
MM: How would you explain the concept of use it or lose it to a couch potato?
FA: The concept highlights the importance of regular exercise which involves working your muscles. Being on the couch represents inactivity and we know muscles need to be worked to be stronger or maintained (stay toned). Where they’re not used regularly, by remaining immobile they become weak and gradually lose their ability to function.
MM: Traditional Afro-Caribbean food diet isn’t always the healthiest. What tips would you give to incorporate a healthier diet?
FA: I think creating a food diary such as the one freely available at www.truthabouthealthexposed.com can be of great help in planning your diet until you’re able to form a routine. I think doing this will help give you an overview of your diet and decipher or allow for little indulgences. In addition, as mentioned in the book take a ‘step by step’ approach in gradually cutting out the less healthy stuff replacing them with more healthy food choices.
MM: You look quite fit yourself. What’s your fitness regime?
FA: I try to make sure I hit the minimum recommended levels for physical activity, however I often do twice as much of that for set periods. How much and what I do depends on my routine which largely depends on things such as work commitments or if I feel I’ve gained a pound or two. Details of most of my ‘secrets’ and tips can be found in the book and associated ‘HIP’ (Health improvement programme) detailed atwww.truthabouthealthexposed.com/hip/what-is-hip/
The Truth About Health Exposed is available here.