The only way NeNe Leakes would ever shrink herself is if her waistline is involved! And that is exactly what is happening. In case you haven’t noticed, the Real Housewives of Atlanta diva has lost a lot of late recently, and it’s because she has taken her diet and health much more seriously in the wake of husband Gregg’s cancer crisis. Leakes reveals that she has adopted a pescetarian diet as a way to clean up her health and recently lost 12 lbs.
“I’m not doing anything crazy like doing the elliptical or riding the bike or running. I started being a pescatarian and he was plant-based, so I started there. It did help me and I felt different,” she told Hollywood Life, adding that her goal is to lose a full 20 pounds in the next few months.
Clearly, it’s working for her.
“I lost a couple of pounds. I’m not a big eater. But what I started to do, was just have small portions. I feel like I eat about four times a day – four, sometimes five – just nibbling on stuff, and I feel really satisfied.”
So what exactly is a pescetarian diet? Most importantly, will it help you shed those unwanted pounds?
First, the pescetarian diet is someone who consumes a mostly plant-based diet (vegetarian) but also eats fish and seafood, and if they want, dairy and eggs. Translation: That means goodbye to burgers, steak or Popeye’s chicken sandwiches and hello to leafy greens, low-sugar fruits like strawberries and blueberries and salmon.
“Weight loss and weight management in general in this day and age can be challenging, especially if you are eating what we term commercial non-organic ‘feed-lot’ meats that are typically found in the average grocery store. This meat often contains hormones and antibiotics which both increase the inflammatory response in the body as well as can contribute to the breakdown of the lining of our gastrointestinal tracts, which in turn can cause more issues with inflammation, Njeri Jarvis, a registered dietitian, and licensed nutritionist, explained to HelloBeautiful.
“Over time this can cause nutrient deficiencies that along with inflammation can contribute to hormonal imbalances making it more difficult to manage or lose weight,” adding, “So, when you remove this meat from the equation by eating fish as your main protein source, particularly those that are cold water and wild-caught and particularly if you are also eating large amounts of vegetables, It can be a weight loss and total body game-changer.”
Njeri Jarvis runs Bear Nutrition and Herbs in Washington DC. Her nutrition practice covers a range of health issues like body composition, cancer, autoimmune disorders, endocrine and kidney imbalances, cancer, food-sensitivity, etc. We got a lot of gems from her about why a pescatarian lifestyle may be an ideal option for Black women, and how those of us who are interested can incorporate it into our lifestyles.
For starters, fish are a great source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc and Selenium. Jarvis explained that Zinc and Selenium are key minerals needed for the body to produce and utilize our body’s biggest detoxifier, glutathione peroxidase. Zinc also plays a role in cell growth, wound healing, the breakdown of carbohydrates, and more. The combination of the nutrients listed above is important for maintaining healthy thyroid function as well.
“For Black women, in particular, transitioning to a pescatarian lifestyle also means getting greater amounts of fat-soluble vitamins [Vitamin A, E, D and K]. Food-based vitamin D is essential as is getting doses of sun based vitamin D,” says Jarvis.
“Individuals living in the northern latitudes of the planet tend to have lower vitamin D levels, especially if their skin is darker. This puts Black women at risk for low levels of vitamin D.”
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine suggest higher levels of vitamin D are associated with decreasing risk of breast cancer. This is important as Black women were recently classified as a high-risk group for breast cancer. We know that people who carry excess weight are at higher risk for developing high blood pressure, high blood sugar, type 2 diabetes, etc. In other words, being mindful of what and how you eat is important. Given that Black women disproportionately suffer from all three of those chronic illnesses, this is definitely a way of eating we should consider adopting.
But there are some factors you should look out for too. Metal pollutants in marine fish are a global issue. Nearly all fish may contain some mercury, but the FDA has issued a warning for pregnant women, women considering becoming pregnant, nursing mothers and young children to avoid specific fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.
Opt for low mercury fish like canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, shrimp, sardines and catfish, and keep it to about 8-12 ounces per week. Most importantly, how you prepare it matters too! Salmon doesn’t mean anything if you the only you cook it in a deep fryer. So opt for grilling, pan-searing on the skillet, baking in foil or even an air fryer, which doesn’t rely on unhealthy oils for that crispy texture you may crave.
“Planning is key to transitioning. First, on your next run to the grocery store, plan and commit to buying only marine protein. Stocking your freezer with good quality plain frozen fish and frozen shrimp is an easy and affordable way to have healthy fish on hand for any family meal,” Jarvis suggests.
“Keeping sardines, muscles, oysters canned in olive oil or water is another affordable staple that can be packed in a to-go bag along with a big salad for a healthy mid-day lunch at work or at school. Making tuna salad or preparing salmon cakes is another affordable and easy way to have a tasty meal that fits the bill.”
You can also tap trusted women in your life to be accountability buddies. You can schedule workouts together, or even short walks, talk each other off the ledge when you’re not meeting goals or craving something counterproductive, share recipes, and generally be a support system working toward success. If you got it like that, it also doesn’t hurt to consult with a nutritionist. Njeri Jarvis can be reached via her website, which was hyperlinked above, as well as on social media, but you can also check with your primary care physician for a referral to trusted nutritionists. Finally, read up more on the pescatarian diet here and here.
BEAUTIES: Are you a pescetarian? How have you benefited from the lifestyle? Are you thinking about becoming a pescetarian? How did you make the transition? We want to hear your thoughts!