As a nurse practitioner student, I completed my clinical rotation in a rural and underserved clinic in the southeastern United States. Overwhelmingly, I treated patients that suffered from chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Initially, the volume of patients that suffered from mostly preventable conditions perplexed me because many of the patients verbalized the potential adverse effects and complications. Yet, they continued to eat an unhealthy diet. Infamously, the South is known for higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Certainly, I can attest to that statement since a majority of the patients that presented to the clinic experienced at least one of those conditions. So one day, I finally mustered up some courage and asked an older African American gentleman why he snubbed the idea of implementing healthier food choices. Amazingly, he admitted that he had no desire to change his diet because the food symbolized his heritage and doing away with soul food denounced his upbringing.

Because of his sentiments, I decided to research food and its subsequent influence on culture in African American communities. Through my investigation, I stumbled across a dynamic and enlightening documentary entitled Soul Food Junkies, and it explored the significance of traditional food within the African American community. Byron Hurt, director and principal actor, eloquently merged a multi-layered story that explored the significance of traditional food in the African American community and most importantly his family. After watching this short film, I gained incredible knowledge regarding the traditions of family and togetherness that are embodied in the preparation and consumption of soul food. So, as a clinician, I have expanded my cultural competence; as a result, I will cultivate and encourage new recipes that symbolize the traditions but utilizes healthier ingredients. If you are interested in discovering modified soul food recipes, click on the links below.

See also
Inclusion, Part 1: Your Role in an Inclusive Work Environment

Also for your viewing pleasure, I have included a link to the full documentary Soul Food Junkies. Click the link below. Thanks for checking out this post! Check us out every day to gain the newest scoop in the nursing world. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

Ashley Wagner
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