Harlem Word: Health Tips from Organic Soul Chef, Madea Allen-Gueye

Madea Allen is a personal chef and certified holistic health coach. She is also a Community Chef and Food Educator with Just Food. Madea became a health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she studied over 100 dietary theories, practical lifestyle management techniques, and cutting-edge coaching methods. Here she gives five ways to be healthier starting now.

Q: What are a few simple tips about health that GHH readers can use right away?


  1. Drink more water! A lot of conditions like hypertension and diabetes are related to being chronically dehydrated (never having enough water). So when you first wake up in the morning, have a glass of water before anything else. No coffee, no tea. Don’t go for the Cheerios, just hydrate yourself. That’s a great thing to do because water gets your digestive system moving and intestinal health is really important. Along those lines, dark leafy greens are great for digestion and nutrition, too.
  2. Have something raw in each meal. Raw foods are full of enzymes. Enzymes are needed for lots of things like breaking down the food and other processes of digestion. You don’t have to be 100% raw, but raw food is great and there is a lot of value in it.
  3. Don’t eat on the go, running down the street, or when you feel stressed. Take five minutes between working and eating to just pause and relax because when your body is more relaxed, you digest more efficiently and get more nutrition from the food you eat. While eating, Be aware of signals from your body. Ask yourself, “Am I still hungry?  Am I satisfied?”
  4. Don’t eat until you are stuffed. Experiment with eating to the point when you are just starting to feel full. You don’t have to finish your plate like your mom used to tell you. I have that problem, too. Don’t fix a huge plate that your body can’t even digest.  Being aware of portions is important.
  5. Eat different colors at each meal.  Enjoy greens, reds, oranges, yellows and try to make your plate a beautiful rainbow. Digestion really starts in the brain because when you see the food, you start to salivate. Saliva has amylase, an enzyme which digests carbohydrates. It all works together.

Q: How do you judge portions for food and water?

A:  Let’s talk about food first. You don’t have to eat a huge amount to feel full. The denser the food is nutritionally, the less you need to eat for a portion. “Nutritionally dense” food means food that has more vitamins, minerals, etc. in a smaller amount. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of food. If you eat a lot of white rice, you might be hungry in an hour. However, if you eat a smaller amount of brown rice or quinoa, you might feel full for a longer time.

For water, a good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water per day or 24-hour period. For example, I weigh about 110 pounds. Half of 110 is equal to 55, so I aim to drink at least 55 ounces (almost 2 quarts) per day. If I’m in a hot kitchen or working out, I’m going to drink more because I’m sweating a lot. Water is extremely important! Our bodies are 70% water.

FOR MORE INFO:You can contact Madea and get more tips and information at her website 

Harlem Word is a series of interviews with Northern Manhattan health experts, written by HHPC and reviewed by our Health Advisory Board.

Leave a Comment