A few small changes can help you avoid health harms without compromising your traditional Southern charms.
Sometimes a habit is so ingrained we don’t think twice about its effect on our health. Simple tweaks can help you and your loved ones live a healthier life while still enjoying these Southern traditions:
1. Sitting down for a nice, long chat.
Sometimes nothing’s better than an evening on the porch, catching up with family and friends. But that time might be better spent out of your rocker.
Solution: Walk and talk. Walking briskly 30 to 60 minutes with others is one way to get more activity into your day. The activity is good for your heart, lungs and waistline, but it offers other mental perks that are less obvious. Read about the 10 surprising benefits of walking here.
2. Being polite when it comes to tough topics.
We Southerners are known for being well-mannered and respectful, particularly where our elders are concerned — but don’t let that become a negative. If you have parents in their golden years, waiting to discuss health plans could lead to stress and confusion when medical issues occur.
Solution: Don’t be afraid to talk about important health topics. Check in with loved ones regularly to confirm they’re getting important screenings and staying on top of medical issues. Also, make sure legal documents have been drawn up, including an up-to-date will, a power of attorney, a living will and a health care proxy. Also discuss your role in their future housing, financial and medical care needs.
3. Sticking to traditional family recipes.
Some of our favorite Southern foods — though delicious and comforting — are only unhealthy because of the extras. For instance, grits are a great source of vitamin B and iron, but add in butter, cheese and cream and the fat can offset the benefits.
Solution: Consider ingredient alternatives. A few quick-and-easy substitutions can transform your grandma’s favorite recipes into healthier dishes that cut fat without eliminating flavor — or tradition. Check out our Southern Cooking Substitutions for ideas.