What’s in your grocery bag? By Gbeda Tonya Lyles

Our bodies need food and water to continue to function.  Intuitively we know that all “food’ is not food. How do you shop for quality, nourishment, and longevity? More and more research shows that our food quality is diminishing from mass food production, insecticides, and hormone injections. In addition, good food is limited by pre-selected food availability, the quantity of local organic growers, and access to small farming industry products. Your ultimate health comes down to what you pack into that grocery bag and bring home. This could determine your health and quality of life.  How do you know what you are truly eating; how do you make better food choices; and what are the food myths or fallacies to health and nutrition? The secret to wellness is often in food, movement, and stress management.  The focus here is food. Unlearning and relearning what is healthy for your body can be a lifelong lesson, but worth investigating and changing.


Supplementing your nutrition with medicinal herbs is also of great value.  Medicinal herbs are often regarded as the ‘forgotten foods’. There are certain herbs that should be available in your kitchen that have medical benefits. Examples of these dried or fresh herbs are licorice root, cinnamon sticks, Astragalus root, burdock root, yellow dock, Echinacea, goldenseal and turmeric root.  Some therapeutic grade essential oils can be safely ingested and cooked with as well.


For people who ‘do not cook’, eating out is often a risk. The quality of food choice and the way it is prepared is in someone else’s hands. We hope those hands and kitchens are clean! We know that fast food isn’t the answer and that slow cooked meals are an asset to health and wellness.  Choosing to prepare more of your meals at home can be a life saver.


Ideal nutrition balances the body. Nutritious foods help to bring the body to its ideal alkaline balanced state, making it harder to nourish disease living in an acidic body. To balance the body, it is important to eat fresher living foods, move closer to a plant-based diet, and drink enough water to help release toxicity.  When looking into your food consumption, access the following.  What foods are alkaline or acid? Which foods give the body more yin or yang?  What type of food gives you life, based on your body’s constitution? Let’s consume the good stuff that raises your internal vibration. Start a revolution in your kitchen.


Gbeda Tonya Lyles is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and sound therapist. Her nutritional experience with food therapy comes from treating clients with gastrointestinal disease, studying Asian food theory, learning holistic and folk medicine, recommending dietary changes, and researching professional health and wellness literature. She is the founder of Gbeda Acupuncture and Sound Medicine in East Austin and is pursuing a doctorate at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. For an appointment gbedaacusound@gmail.com or  512-426-4595. Gbeda.com is coming soon!
We invite our QPOC community members to continue this conversation with us Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 from 6:00pm-8:00pm at allgo during our “What is in your grocery bag?” discussion group facilitated by Tonya Lyles of Gbeda Acupuncture and Sound Medicine.


Why preventative care matters to QPOC

The term ‘preventative care’ is often used when talking about health, but it’s never really talked about in depth. What is Preventative care? And why is it important to QPOC? Preventative care may be taking steps to care for yourself, or meeting with a healthcare provider, before you are sick or experiencing symptoms of sickness. By doing so, you may be able to reduce the chances of becoming very sick, and increase the chances that you and your provider will be able to notice any new changes to your health. Currently most insurance providers cover preventative care and yearly wellness check-ups at no cost to you.

Why is it important?

First off, it keeps you healthier. For some people going to a provider or doctor before you are sick may seem counterintuitive, but many sicknesses, diseases and medical conditions are easier and less expensive to treat if noticed and treated earlier. And often times as QPOC we, for many reasons, avoid going to a health care provider unless absolutely necessary, which can lead to us receiving diagnoses for health conditions later and begin treatment further in the progression of the disease.  Annual or regular preventative visits to your provider can help you and your provider track any changes that are happening, as well as giving you an opportunity to ask questions about health and wellness. We should not wait until we are in pain or discomfort to begin to take care of ourselves. This point intersects with all aspects of our health, but is especially noticeable when it comes to our mental health. Many people do not put the time or effort into caring for their mental health. Preventative care for mental and spiritual health is just as important as physical health.

It can save you money

It has actually been shown that preventative care can, for some people, lower the overall cost you end up spending on health and wellness. For some sickness, diseases, and medical conditions the more time that passes before treatment begins the more it can cost to effectively treat or care for those conditions. As well as the fact that most preventative care will hopefully be small costs at regular intervals instead of large unaccounted for treatment costs.

Things you can do to practice preventative care:

Annual wellness check-ups can help you and your health care provider stay on top of any changes that are happening with your body and health.  Annual Wellness check ups are often covered by most insurance companies, and some providers may offer a sliding scale or reduced rate for people without insurance who wish to have a wellness check up.

Preventative care doesn’t always have to mean going to your health care provider. Something as simple as tracking your blood pressure may help you be aware of when things are happening in your body. High and low blood pressure can be signs of many different things happening in your body and regularly checking can help you to understand what you are experiencing. You can buy blood pressure monitors from most pharmacies. It is a good idea, if you have insurance, to call your insurance company before you buy one, as some companies may reimburse some or all of the cost to purchase one. In fact it’s a good idea to call your insurance before buying any medical device as they may cover a lot more than most people expect.

Working out for at least 30 minutes a day may help prevent many different health conditions and has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Working out may also help improve sleep, relieve stress and help regulate sugar levels.

As I said above, it’s a good idea to know the things that your insurance covers, and some insurers cover more than some people know about. Many insurance companies make money by having many people pay for coverage, but few that access services. Meaning that they have money coming in, but not going out. In this way they are incentivized to not let you know about all the services that they cover, or offer to you at no cost to you. Currently, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all marketplace policies, and a few others, to cover certain preventative health care services at no cost to you. Some policies which are not available on the marketplace still follow these guidelines. At the bottom of this blog we have included links that will let you know what services are covered at no cost to you by ACA and other insurance plans

Preventative Care can have a large impact on helping to make our QPOC communities strong and healthy. It might be a good idea, with all that is happening around the ACA to schedule an  appointment with your healthcare provider now.

For people without insurance, there are many free or low cost wellness services offered through local and state health departments and community organizations. The City of Austin Health Equity department has some free and low cost services that can be accessed by many people. We have included links to some of these services below.

Let’s work together as a community to ensure that our QPOC community members are able to live long, happy, healthy lives. How do you practice preventative care? What recommendations do you have for other QPOC around health and wellness? Let us know, and make sure to send this to someone who can benefit from knowing more about preventative health care.

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Links to Preventative Care Services:

Click here to see all the Preventative Medical Services available at no cost to adults who have a ACA health care plan, click here for services specific to women’s health, and here for services specific to children’s health. Remember that these services are required under the ACA to be covered by your insurance company at no cost to you. Also remember that many plans that do not fall under the ACA must also offer these services at no cost. If you do not have insurance some providers may have a sliding scale program for people wanting to access preventative health care services.
Click here to see how to access low to no cost vaccinations through the City of Austin (CoA). The CoA also has a Mobile Van Program where you can receive blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checks, as well as pregnancy, and HIV/STI tests, click here to see more information. Click here for free services in Austin to help quit tobacco. The second Saturday of every month from 9:00am-2:00pm HEB pharmacies offer free blood sugar and blood pressure checks, click here to learn more.


Walk, Roll, or Stroll with allgo

That time of the year is here again; registration is open for people to sign up to participate in the 30th annual AIDS Walk Austin! The AIDS Walk Austin is an annual gathering and walk that benefits ten local organizations in and around Austin which are providing services to people living with and affected by HIV. allgo, who has participated in the walk for all 30 years, is one of the beneficiary organizations and the money raised supports the health and wellness work that we do with our queer people of color communities.

The walk will take place Sunday, October 29th, 2017 at the newly reopened Republic Square Park. The festival will begin at 11:30am with live music, food trucks, vendors, and activities, and the walk, roll, or stroll will kick off at 2:00pm.

allgo has started a team that is open to anyone who would like to walk, roll, or stroll with other QPOC community members and supporters of allgo. This is a great opportunity to come out and enjoy a day in the park with community. And for those of us who have been telling ourselves that we are going to get out there and get in our steps or distance for the the day, this is the perfect way to do that. Every year for the last 30 years allgo has participated in the walk, and it is because of our community members and supporters that we are able to continue doing the work that we do. We invite our QPOC community members and allgo supporters to join us for a day together.

YOUR participation will make a huge difference!

Please consider joining or donating to the allgo team.

Register before July 20th and receive a discounted registration fee of $15.


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