COLUMN: Thanksgiving provides food for thought

Angela Oliver

I always get excited around this time of year.

Tuesday, I’ll be gleefully traveling down Interstate 65, keeping myself awake by bopping to my hip-hop music, of course, and making my way home.

Final projects are hanging in the balance, graduate school applications cover my nightstand and my winter break job hunt is on.

So, I look forward to the Thanksgiving break as a chance to relax and spend time with the people who mean more to me than anything in this world.

Whenever I think about gatherings with my relatives – graduations, weddings, holidays – Kanye West’s “Family Business” loops in my mind.

The song, only known and appreciated by ‘Ye fans like myself who realize his freshman effort “The College Dropout” is still his best work, is filled with powerful imagery of family occasions. Maybe it’s not so powerful in wordplay or metaphors. But it’s relatable; there’s not a family who hasn’t experienced some of the things he rhymes about – loss, struggle, the admired elder, the infamous arguing aunt and uncle, pride in your relative’s success and breaking bread together.

There is one destructive issue he leaves out, though.

When my family and I see each other next week, we will join hands and say grace around a table covered with Southern favorites so rich in aroma and aesthetically pleasing, you can taste them before you even carve the turkey.

And though the food might be good for the soul, it’s not always good for our health.

While West reasons that family problems shouldn’t be exposed, I say if they’ll increase awareness and prevention, let them all out.

Most of the adults older than 40 in my family have hypertension. My grandmother died from complications with diabetes. And my grandfather lived through several heart surgeries until he was 88.

But apparently none of that was ever enough to make me or any of my relatives pay attention to what we eat or change our eating habits.

The Centers for Disease Control states that 23.6 million adults and children have diabetes in the U.S, with African-American and Hispanics affected disproportionately. We are also more likely to suffer from hypertension, kidney failure and stroke, all complications of diabetes.

I’m guilty of using the holidays as an excuse for indulging in foods cooked with oil, pork fat, butter and mounds of sugar and salt.

Like I’ve said before, since I’m from the South, those foods are all I’ve known. And years of consuming them have resulted in some extra pounds.

During seven years of all-season and competitive cheerleading, I was never out of shape. But that was years ago, and now I know it’s beyond time to get active again.

During this holiday season, I can’t promise I’ll walk away from that glorious dinner table. I’m thankful to be blessed enough to have such an abundance in the first place.

But I can promise I’ll try to work off every calorie I eat. And I’ll encourage my family to do the same.

After all, I want all of us to be around for holiday celebrations to come.

This commentary doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the Herald or the university.