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Dear Black Boys, Your Life Has Value

In 2013 my husband and I sat down and wrote a letter to our unborn son. It was fueled by the frustration and racial inequalities in our educational institutions, justice system, and media representation that reached a fever pitch after the death of Trayvon Martin. Here we are seven years later mourning the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Things seem to be getting worse.

Our son is now three years old and I am more fearful, angry, and disgusted by the lack of empathy, compassion, and courage from our government and local leaders. As an author, I wanted to share these words in hopes that they will one day become untrue and out of touch with America’s reality. Until then, please let our black boys know that their lives have value and that they are a child of God.


A Letter To My Unborn Son
by Dr. Anthony and Belinda Mays

To my future son,
Your life has value.

Despite what America feels, says, or does
You will always have your mother’s love.

Society will try and throw you out,
By lowering expectations and instilling doubt.
But just know that you are wonderfully made,
created by the same God as they.

They will fight against me terminating your entry into this hell,
But once you are here,
They place you on a fast track to jail
Or early grave.

You’ll be expected to fail,
Surprise people when you speak well,
Because the image of you has been defined and exploited,
By hypersensitive media and hip hop’s distorted
Views of what it means to be black.

Saggy pants and hat twisted back,
Ruthless thugs who hate women and love drugs,
Always up to no good shoot ‘em up HIV having thugs.

Uneducated lawless trash.

These are the lies they want you to believe,
And they’ve created systems to insure you see,
That your life is of very little value.

A dead dog warrants more jail time than your lifeless body,
They fear you so they kill you
Physically, Spiritually, Financially.

So, I will do my best to prepare you to fight.

I want you to value education,
So that you’ll recognize the injustices you’ll be facing.

Ignorance is still bliss,
And I want you my son to be pissed
When you’re disrespected, threatened, or dismissed.

I want you to be respectful and always aware,
That you can help redefine the images of black males that’s out there.

My son as you travel in this life there will be challenges at every turn.
Be prideful and always keep your crown held high as others wonder, stare and pass vile judgment.

As difficulties arise, it is important to stay physically agile, mentally nimble, and spiritually fit.

I ask myself will the world be any different upon your arrival.
More learned?
More loving?

Keep your eyes focused forward, mind sharp and avoid the cold box that awaits your first mistake.

Despite the statistics, tea-leaves, or fortunes told, your actions and wise
choices will dictate your faith.

A criminal among other things is what they will deem you. Your hue will be their fantasy, their fear, your curse and strength.

Be reflective and diligent as you grow to know society’s worst. Dispel all the worlds’ myths.

Your destiny will demand the discernment of our maker, courage of a lion, power of an elephant, and collective wisdom of our forefathers.

For you will be mistreated, abused, forgotten, disregarded, misused even by your own brother.

Within the throws of it all don’t fall to a common pathology but continue to love and fight.
Meeting every challenge that arises with spiritual vigor, intellectual prowess and physical might.

Labor intentionally and know that there are no weaknesses in your DNA, no shortage of chromosomes, no less.

Created in excellence, an imitation of God, divinity within, a regal figure.

You are not a nigger!

You are Powerful, Wise, and Confident.
You are God’s child,
Exceedingly and wonderfully blessed!

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Leftover Oatmeal Muffins

Leftover Oatmeal Muffins

OatmealMuffins

In 2015 my family and I took the pledge to do Meatless Mondays and challenged ourselves to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat. When we first started I made oatmeal every Monday because I could not think of any other breakfast that didn’t include eggs. (We have since agreed that eggs are not considered meat in our household.)

We often had leftover oatmeal and I kept wondering what to do with it. I felt bad about throwing it in the trash, so I decided to reuse it and make what our family calls left over oatmeal muffins. We eat these for breakfast or in lieu of cornbread.

Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup left over oatmeal
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup melted butter
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl. You can use a blender but my oatmeal usually has raisins in it and I like to keep them whole so I mix by hand.
Spray a muffin pan and spoon in batter by the tablespoon. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until muffins bounce back when you touch them. It makes one batch in a 12 muffin pan. I have replaced half the brown sugar and butter with a 1/2 cup of applesauce or a banana and that adds moisture and more fruit.
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Healthy Pasta Primavera

Healthy Pasta Primavera

pasta

My husband loves pasta! If he could he’d eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Over the years I have tried various recipes in effort to find a healthy pasta dish that my husband would love that won’t send me into a diabetic coma. So with a few modifications to the traditional pasta primavera this is what I came up with. Try it and let me know what you think.

 

Ingredients
12 ounces whole wheat or rice angel hair pasta
1 small yellow squash sliced
1 small zucchini sliced
2 carrots chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 small onion sliced
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
15-20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Italian Seasoning

 

Directions
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.
Meanwhile, heat 1/4 the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add all the remaining vegetables, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the carrots soften, about 2 minutes.
Drain the pasta and pour the vegetable mixture over the pasta. Add parmesan cheese and more olive oil if desired.
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Renewing My Vow To Be Healthy

Austyn4mos

After I had my second daughter in August of 2014 I fell off the healthy lifestyle road to success. I stopped working out, stopped checking my blood sugars, and started eating more sweets and fried foods than I had in decades. I attributed most of the changes to the new baby but in realty it was just a lack of discipline.

This year I am renewing my vow to be healthy. I want to live to see my daughters finish high school, graduate from college, marry and one day have a family of their own. In order to do so I pledge to start back working out two days a week and recommit to limiting fried foods to once a month and limiting sweets to once a week.

The Inflammation Cure

In addition to Type 2 Diabetes, I also have ulcerate colitis and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis which are both linked to inflammation. I recently read The Inflammation Cure by D.r William Meggs. In the book Dr. Meggs mentioned that one of the underlying causes of Type 2 Diabetes is inflammation. He also suggested that eating less meat and eating more fruits and vegetables will help keep inflammation down.

On January 2, 2015 I took the pledge to incorporate  meatless Mondays in hopes to reduce the inflammation associated with my chronic conditions and recommit to living a healthy lifestyle in 2015. This will be very challenging but I am willing to try it. What changes are you planning to make in 2015 to renew your vow to be healthy?

 

 

 

 

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Private Selections 100% Whole Wheat Sugar Free Bread

I love bread! As a little girl growing up in the South I used to make sandwiches out of every meal. Pork and beans and rice turned into a pork and beans and rice sandwich. Meatloaf and rice turned into a meatloaf and rice sandwich. No kidding.

So naturally when I learned that I had Type 2 diabetes cutting back on bread became a real struggle. I managed to transition from white bread to wheat bread without feeling that I was sacrificing taste. However, 100% wheat bread still would elevate my blood sugar levels higher than I’d like. I also tried various gluten free breads but have yet to find a brand that was pleasing to me.

Two weeks ago I ran across the Private Selections Sugar Free 100% Whole Wheat bread in my local Kroger. On first glance I thought it may be a gimmick but decided to give it a try since Private Selections makes fairly decent products. I was pleasantly surprised. The bread is delicious and the loaf is large enough that one slice can truly make one serving when cut or folded in half.

INGREDIENTS

whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, resistant corn starch, maltitol, wheat bran, contains 2% or less of soybean oil, calcium sulfate, salt, raisin juice concentrate, yeast, soy flour, vinegar, monoglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium propionate (preservative), ethoxylated monoglycerides, azodicarbonamide, sucralose, reduced iron

PROS

The smooth taste won over everyone in my household so it will become a new part of our family meal planning. In addition to being just 100 calories per serving, the bread did not raise my blood sugar as much as regular 100% whole wheat bread does.

CONS

The bread is made with an artificial sugar alcohol, maltitol, but it is listed as the fifth ingredient. I purchased the bread on sale (two loafs for $4), however I think the regular price was over $3 per loaf which may be pricey to some.

SUMMARY

I would recommend this bread. It tastes great and is made with fairly decent ingredients which may explain way I do not see a major spike in my blood sugar levels after eating it.

Have you tried it? What were your thoughts?

 

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How To Control Diabetes

Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of blindness for adults. Although there is no cure for diabetes you can prevent the complications associated with diabetes by keeping your blood sugar levels under control. Diet and exercise are key to keeping your blood sugars at a normal rate and may also be used to decrease the amount and or frequency of medication needed to manage your diabetes. Here are my suggestions for Diet and Exercise.

 

Exercise
Try to exercise 30 minutes at least twice a week. You can break the 30 minutes up into 10 minute increments by taking the dog for a walk, dancing to a few songs or playing chase with your kids or grand kids. Be creative and have fun!

Diet
Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. I like to add spinach to eggs, top hotdogs with mixed greens and throw in blueberries with oatmeal, yogurt or cereal. When dining out order a salad for your appetizer. That way you know you had a serving of vegetables before your entree even comes out.

Don’t buy junk food when you go grocery shopping. If you don’t have junk food in your house then you will be less likely to eat junk food. In addition, I found that eliminating cow’s milk, soda, white bread and white rice have helped me to keep my blood sugar levels under control. I have replaced cow’s milk with almond milk but I encourage you to try alternatives like soy, coconut milk and rice milk.

Finally, eat more foods that help regulate blood sugar levels. Foods such as sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados and salmon are known for lowering or helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Education

Aside from diet and exercise I encourage you to read anything you can get your hands on that mentions diabetes, nutrition or health.  You are responsible for taking control of your diabetes not your doctor and in order to take control you have to become educated. In addition to learning about how diet and exercise effect your blood sugar levels, I also recommend seeing a nutritionist or dietician. They can help you learn how to read food labels and create a meal plan based on your age, weight and nutritional goals.

Doctors will often prescribe medication without discussing the importance of diet and exercise in controlling blood sugar levels. Many will simply suggest you loose weight. For skinny diabetics like me we don’ t necessarily need to loose weight we just need to adopt healthier eating, and exercise habits.

 

When making healthy lifestyle changes, I suggest that you start with a few changes and stick to them and most importantly relax since stress can also raise your blood sugar.

Have you tried any of these tips? Do you have other suggestions for helping others take control of their diabetes? Let me know what works or doesn’t work for you and feel free to share any additional advice that you may have.

 

 

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What is Diabetes?

Although there are over 29 million diabetics in the United States and over 371 million world wide, I’d be willing to bet that many people do not know what diabetes is. In fact, I have met several people at various health fairs and events here in North Texas who have been diagnosed with diabetes but cannot explain what diabetes actually is.

Here is my attempt to define what diabetes or diabetes mellitus, as it is called in the medical field, really means.

 

WHAT IS DIABETES?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when your body either does not produce any insulin, does not produce enough insulin or is not able to use the insulin produced well enough to keep your blood sugar levels at a normal rate.

If your body does not produce enough insulin or does not produce any insulin then you develop an insulin deficiency. If your body does not properly use insulin then you develop insulin resistance. Both insulin deficiency and insulin resistance cause  diabetics to have higher blood sugar levels than non diabetics.

 

WHAT IS INSULIN?

Insulin is a hormone that is produced in your body’s pancreas to help regulate your blood sugar levels. The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach. The beta cells in the pancreas produce insulin. For diabetics the beta cells in the pancreas either do not work at all or do not work very well.

Contrary to popular belief, insulin treatment is not the worst case scenario for treating diabetes. Insulin injections are actually the most natural why to treat diabetes. However, most people, including myself, don’t like the idea of needles so we prefer to take medication instead of insulin.

The Role of Insulin in the Human Body

TYPES OF DIABETES

There are three types of diabetes:

Type 1

  • No insulin production
  • Typically diagnosed in young adults and children

Type 2

  • The body does not produce enough insulin or does not use the insulin well enough to regulate blood sugar levels
  • Most often diagnosed in adults
  • Accounts for an estimated 80% of all diabetics

Gestational Diabetes

  • Occurs during pregnancy
  • Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing Type 2 after pregnancy

 

PREDIABETES

Prediabetes occurs prior to full onset type 2 diabetes. It is the period when a person’s blood sugars are high but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. You can be prediabetic without knowing it.

target blood sugar ranges
Target Blood Sugar Range

I  failed to recognize or heed the warnings when I was prediabetic. My mother would suggest I have my blood sugar checked and talked to me about the symptoms of diabetes because of our family history.

I now recall being told on two separate occasions that my after meal blood sugars were higher than normal. Each time I would try to rationalize why my sugars were high by making excuses such as having pancakes or muffins that morning.

The truth is I probably could have either prevented developing type 2 or prolonged the development of type 2 if I had not ignored the warning signs of high blood sugar. But since I was young (twenty something) and thin I just assumed that diabetes would not impact me.