|Reviewers Comments: ||Body & Soul has a strong history of successes in African American churches around the country. The program is based on the recommendations from MyPyramid and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It addresses cultural barriers to healthy eating faced by African American families and strongly emphasizes the importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet.
It is made up of four parts, or pillars, and all four pillars must be in place to build an effective Body & Soul program. The four pillars of Body & Soul are:
- A pastor who is committed and involved
- Church activities that promote healthy eating
- A church environment that promotes healthy eating
- Peer counseling that motivates church members to eat a healthy diet.
The Program Guide has tools and handouts to get started, and resources for more information. The guide outlines step by step how to enact the program and keep it running well over time. It is sprinkled with motivating examples of how churches from around the country tailored the program for their own needs. There are also tips for forming a Planning Team, working with grocery stores, and maintaining the program.
The Peer Counseling Coordinator’s Guide includes information about recruiting peer counselors, training peer counselors, enrolling church members and maintaining the peer counseling program. A Peer Counselor’s Handbook is available to help the peer counselor, as well as a free Body & Soul Peer Counselor Training DVD, which can be ordered over the phone.
Templates to download and create bulletins are also available online, which can be used to help promote the program. There are four separate bulletins available, plus a downloadable banner. An online image library includes professional quality Body & Soul images, which can be used to promote Body & Soul events on flyers, bulletin boards, church bulletins, or a church web site. Images include fruits and vegetables, people and other food; all are 300dpi JPEG files saved in RGB color format. A resource directory includes links to relevant resources related to cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, nutrition and/or physical activity and general health.
The program uses the A Taste of 5 A Day Cookbook, which includes a collection of healthy recipes developed by church members from the Black Churches United for Better Heath project. The cookbook includes recipes for appetizers, soups and breads, fruit drinks/beverages, salads, fruit and vegetable side dishes, vegetable casseroles, main dishes, and desserts. All recipes are traditional “soul food” cuisine made healthy, and include select nutrition information (calories, fat, calories from fat, % calories from saturated fat and sodium). Recipes are indexed in alphabetical order and by chapter.
The second half of the cookbook contains valuable information on modifying recipes, choosing, buying, storing, using and cooking fruits and vegetables. Some of the tips given include how to increase fruit or vegetables in a recipe so each helping has at least one serving, how to reduce the fat in recipes (both total and saturated), and how to add less salt and sugar and lower salt foods in recipes. A substitution list for recipes is also included. The second section would be most advantageous when it is read completely, rather than when it is used as a reference guide. The cookbook frequently mentions “five a day”, but also discusses fruits and vegetables in terms of cups.
All of the Body & Soul program materials are available to download and order from the program web site.