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About the Food and Nutrition Information Center

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Title:Body & Soul: A Celebration of Healthy Eating & Living
Alt. Title:Body & Soul
Pub. date: Originally developed 1998, revised 2005
Includes: multifaceted program
Audience: Multiple Audiences, African American church members
Language: English
Description:Body & Soul is an evidence-based health and wellness program developed for African American churches. The program encourages church members to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables every day for better health. Four unique components make up the program: pastoral leadership, educational activities, a church environment that supports healthy eating and peer counseling. All of the Body & Soul program materials are available to download and order from the program Web site, and can be tailored for specific use. Other nutrition assistance programs could use these materials with similar audiences.
Funding Source: National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Organization: National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Phone: 1-800-422-6237
Pilot Testing: Body & Soul is based on 10 years of successful programs in African American churches across the country. Two programs were combined to create Body & Soul: “Black Churches United for Better Health” and “Eat for Life.” These programs were conducted in churches of various sizes and denominations. The churches were located in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Regardless of the location or size, each of these faith based programs was highly successful in helping church members eat more fruits and vegetables.
Assessment instrument Used? yes
Use Restrictions: May copy for educational purposes.
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.

View/download files: 
Program Web site:
To download program materials:
Contact the Distributor:
    Distributor: National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    Phone: 1-800-422-6237
    Ordering: All materials available online or can be ordered by phone.
    Order URL:Web Address
    Cost: 0.00 per
    Avail. in Qty: No
User FeedbackDate
This is a wonderful program and it is truly needed.
    –Cecelia Jerome

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