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Change your holiday diet with more holistic approach


Health eating from wellness coach Queen Afua

By Alysha Conner | OW Guest Contributor 

‘Tis the season for overeating, rehashing unresolved trauma, and inclement weather illnesses. 

But, this year, what if we mirror the lyrics from the late rapper Tupac Shakur’s hit single “Changes” (“I’d love to go back to when we played as kids, but things change and that’s the way it is”)?

While the holidays can be rough for people from all walks of life, there is ongoing concern regarding African-American eating habits.

One thing that happens during this time is that people are looking for love. But then tend to turn to comfort foods when love cannot be found. 

Also, during this season, with cold temperatures, people become more isolated and likely to consume comfort foods.

Moreover, whether it be the search for love or “shelter from the storm,” a common temptation during the holidays is comfort food. 

I recently spoke with holistic health advisor Queen Afua, for insight on how African Americans can enjoy the holidays while also prioritizing good health.   

 “Black people are filling up the hospitals with heart conditions and high blood pressure and strokes,” said Queen Afua.  

“Around the holidays, people are eating more starch because starch is more emotional. And the emptier you feel about life, the more starch you want to take in. If you feel that you want sweetness, kindness, and love, you go to the cookies and the pies. And then it becomes havoc. The food becomes a violent reaction to the system.” 

Research presented at the 2021 American Heart Association Health Conference showed that almost 6,000 Black adults ages 45 and older who ranked within the top 25% of all participants for consumption of ultra-processed food were 55% more likely to have high blood pressure compared to white adults who consumed a similar amount of ultra-processed foods.

While Queen Afua does not discount embracing culturally relevant holiday foods, she does suggest using healthier alternative ingredients. She also highly suggests incorporating natural herbs and supplements–not just during the holidays–to better address any and all health concerns.

Below are four natural remedies Queen Afua recommends to prevent common illnesses generally heightened during this season. 

1.  “Garlic or taking Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract can help to reduce blood pressure. This is particularly true for African-Americans. That helps get rid of the infection and expands the lungs so the mucus will drain out the ears and sinuses. It also gets rid of parasites from eating a lot of meat.

2.  “Cayenne pepper will also help to break up the mucus. Take it with lime juice, and that will break up a lot of the congestion.”

3.  “Beets and berries (blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries) help with wound healing and blood cleansing.”

4.  “To help regulate your colon, put okra into your soups and your salads. Colon cancer is the second highest cancer in the United States because people are constipated by all the fast food, junk, and processed food.”

Those who onced tested positive for COVID-19 were told early on to “stay home.” This regimen, in turn, led to a rise in seeking advice from holistic health practitioners like Queen Afua.

“The pandemic shook a lot of people into waking up,” said Queen Afua. “When it happened, people said, ‘Where's my ginger? Where's my elderberry?’ We had to begin detoxing and cleansing because life was going to get more challenging if we didn't.”

With more than 40 years of experience as a holistic health practitioner and wellness coach, Queen Afua has inspired and transformed the lives of more than a million women, men, and children worldwide through her workshops, retreats, products, digital content, and New York Times best-selling books. Her most notable books are “Heal Thyself for Health” (1991) and Longevity and Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit” (2000).

Queen Afua has devoted her life to reeducating the world about utilizing the power of food, self-care, and holistic healthy choices as an empowering lifestyle.

“All walks of life come to sit down with me,” said Queen Afua. “And I receive them to the fullest extent. From the sacred women to the vixen girls. Because we all need healing.”

Queen Afua has a special call to action for Black women to pay attention to their health during the holiday season. 

“We're feeding off of the foods that create that tumor and the relationships that we keep recycling,” said Queen Afua. “So, between relationships, toxic food, and the cold weather, we’re in a deep crisis. But we could shift that.”

The foundation of Queen Afua’s herbal remedies and practices stems from African-American ancestral wisdom.

According to the established holistic professional, the first step to healing is to seek the messages brought from Africa to the United States.

“Holistic health is from antiquity, from our African ancestors,” said Queen Afua.  “We took them from the motherland. We brought them with us. And so we have those qualities. We have to now go back to nature to restore us.”

“We've been indoctrinated not to trust ourselves,” said Queen Afua. “There was a point after slavery when we had to rely on ourselves. And now we go outside of ourselves to heal ourselves rather than inside to become that for ourselves. And start to go to the herbalists, midwives, holistic healers, study nature then live it.”

Again, the words of Tupac Shakur can resonate as a person–and their food traditions–advance over time: “You see the old way wasn't working / So it's on us to do what we gotta do to survive / And still I see no changes.”

It is long overdue for a radical shift as a collective in systems and patterns of coping with life. Will you start this holiday season?

“My goal is to create a healer in every family, at least one in every family and every household,” said Queen Afua. 

“So, let's all get prepared during the holidays not to eat heavily. Start to exercise so that you can work out some of that emotional baggage that you have. Then you will be able to push the plate away and not overdo it because you're hurting.”

To learn more about Queen Afua’s health recommendations and services, visit or follow her Instagram, @queenafua.

In Queen Afua’s parting tradition, she has left an affirmation to recite this holiday season. 

“I give thanks in advance for complete healthy living. In body, mind, and spirit. May I be a vessel of pure health and vitality that I may be able to uplift my friends, my family, and all my relations for all healing in and around my life begins with me as I heal myself. I heal and recharge and uplift all my relations. May I accept healing, may I see holistic healing as a pathway out of suffering. So, on this day and each day, may I grow stronger and stronger in my resolve to heal myself. And so, it is.”