Dr. Qadira Huff is a proud wife, mother, pediatrician, and lifestyle medicine physician who aims to educate families about the benefits of a health-promoting lifestyle. She was even on the Wellness Panel for our Plant Power to the People event back in October!
Her business Sprouting Wellness reflects her personal mission with its slogan being “Family-centered lifestyle change for lifelong health”, especially since she’s a lifelong vegan with veg family.
Learn more about her and her wonderful work with her profile below!
1. Where were you born and raised?
Washington, DC native.
2. What were your favorite foods growing up?
Mom's cast iron skillet enchiladas and BBQ gluten were hard to beat!
3. How did your platform begin?
Soon after getting certified in Lifestyle Medicine in Fall 2019, I felt compelled to share the message of evidence-based lifestyle approaches with as many people as possible, especially communities of color who experience worse health outcomes virtually across the board. There are many restraints in primary care in terms of time limitations and taking more creative approaches to teaching kids and families. These factors and others inspired me to found Sprouting Wellness as a new vehicle to educate and promote healthier lifestyles for families! My business's slogan is "Lifestyle change for lifelong health" - and it really highlights that we have so much more power than we realize in creating our healthiest selves through the power of our everyday habits. I created my platform to help inspire families to take control over their own health - since true health takes root at home - not in a clinic!
4. What do you do outside of your personal and professional work?
In my pre-COVID19 life, I was an avid traveler - like as soon as I returned from a trip, I'd start planning the next adventure. In 2019, I was blessed to travel to Malaysia, Morocco, and Iceland. I am grateful I was able to scratch the itch last year, since 2020 has been a grounded year. Over the past several months, I have become a Peloton cycling enthusiast and gotten more into audiobooks.
5. What's your vegan story?
I'm proud to say that at 36 years old, I've never eaten meat. I was actually raised in a plant-based household growing up - both of my parents stopped eating meat and consuming dairy in the 1970s. This move came in the context of their involvement in the Black Liberation movement and a deliberate return to an unprocessed, whole food, plant-based diet that was more reflective of an Afrocentric, heritage style of eating. This lifestyle change was a move towards greater self-empowerment as Black people, and a recognition that our plates are a prime gateway to health that we can control! Growing up, our family meals were always somewhere on the spectrum between vegetarian and vegan.
Fast forward from my largely whole food, plant-based childhood to my years of medical training, I got caught up living the "anti-lifestyle!" Due to the demands of training with long hours, high stress, and inconsistent sleep and movement, I found myself falling back on processed convenience foods full of sugar, salt, and fat and consuming high amounts of dairy. Pretty much every lunch and learn session at the hospital featured free pizza and pastries of some sort! Feeling tired, stressed and hungry, I happily ate these foods. Reckoning day finally came, though, when I finished my training having gained a LOT of weight, and feeling even more exhausted in my body than I did while training. I also felt the discomfort of realizing that I knew better and that I wasn't setting a good example for the young patients I was seeing daily in clinic.
Before getting pregnant, I started slowly making changes to cut down on processed foods, then incrementally over the postpartum period, I kept making small changes to build meals around unprocessed plant-foods. After getting certified in Lifestyle Medicine, and learning more of the compelling data around the adverse health effects of dairy and poultry, I cut those animal products out of my diet. I've since been raising my preschooler on a fully plant-based, whole food diet! I feel that it's one of the best gifts I can give her - to teach her to love plant-foods in their natural form as a powerful tool to live her healthiest life possible!
6. What's your best advice for helping someone go vegan?
I'd recommend starting small and building from there. You can start by veganizing just one meal a day and once that's a consistent habit, then add on another meal and keep building. It's so easy to get caught up in going big and then potentially losing steam quickly. I advocate for incremental change and also change that's rooted in a strong underlying reason for making this monumental lifestyle change!
7. How can someone begin doing food access work today?
Start in your community by supporting local food banks, food policy councils, and local community-based agriculture. Even before getting involved with volunteering or donating resources, there is a wealth of information out there to educate oneself on the historical context of food insecurity, food apartheid and systemic racism woven throughout the local, national and global food landscapes.
8. Who inspires you?
My parents remain my biggest inspiration in terms of the power of finding your own niche through which to positively impact the world around you. Being of service to others in your own unique way is the cost we pay for being alive, I think. Early on I witnessed my parents sacrificing all they had to build an empire of Black-owned independent bookstores (DC-based Pyramid Bookstores) to serve the Black community because they believed that Black folks - young and old - deserved and needed to learn about their history to guide their future. I grew up witnessing this deep sense of community-engagement and that was my model as I pursued medicine. I knew that I wanted to be of service in my own unique way through my calling as a physician.
9. Why is community important when it comes to Afro-Veganism?
On a political level, Afro-Veganism is about self-empowerment and cultivating the sense that we have what we need within our own communities to thrive. The exploding local agriculture movement in Black communities is an important example of community-building and self-empowerment in action. There is nothing more powerful than growing one's own food - other than doing that in community and showing the next generation the ropes. Food is power because food can either cultivate or diminish life itself.
Just fantastic! You can check out more of Dr. Qadira’s helpful content on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @qadirahuffmd & her business' website at sproutingwellness.com so you can feel educated and liberated. Enjoy!