Distinguished Diva sat down with HolistiCitiLyfe founder Leslie Carrington.

HolistiCitiLyfe is a community collective of wellness practitioners.  Leslie and her team specialize in engaging the community in healthy lifestyle practices for women of color, who are far too often the caregivers for everyone else, and rarely take the time to care for themselves.

HolitiCitiLyfe curates wellness travel retreats for women of color all around the world, from Sri Lanka, Italy, Greece and more.

Leslie’s motto is, “we have to value that goddess within, no matter what society says. We have to own the beauty inside of us.”

The spaces we place our bodies is important, the people we allow into our lives is important, but there is so much value in what we put into our bodies.  The food and substances that we use to fuel us, are usually just coping mechanisms. The toxic food, the alcohol, the drugs, that all help the daily pains subside, can be a major contributor to many of our daily frustrations. Depression, anxiety, and lack of focus can all be linked the food we place inside of us.

Leslie shares a few tips on how to transition to a plant-based diet that is accessible and convenient.

1. Start small. You may not be able to buy all organic foods, but you can clean your produce with a water based apple cider vinegar mix to cut back on pesticide consumption.

2. Salads are easy to grab on the go and easy to prepare when you don’t have much time.

3. Chicken is great for those who can’t give up their meat as long as

4. Sweet potatoes and yams are a great source for energizing us, and they are a southern specialty for black people in America.  You can have this without adding maple syrup or marshmallows, or butter. They are naturally sweet.

:   Many ethnic celebrations are rooted in the food that we cook and consume together. Food is a major source of joy and there is lots of community building and togetherness that is built around the experience of eating.  Everything from pealing the peas together, shucking the corn, tasting the stew, are all quite intimate bonding experiences, so how do we alter the way we consume food if this means taking away our primary source of joy? 

Leslie: As we evolve as a people we began to recognize the high instances of hypertension, high blood pressure, and diabetes that are killing people off in our culture, we have to shift. We must find new ways of gathering and showing love that are also healthy.  What use is celebrating family and abusing our bodies?  We can stick to old traditions that are killing us, or we can rearrange and tweak the way we celebrate.

Patti Labelle is a good example of a pioneer who is changing the way she cooks and speaking out about it publicly. She’s using less sugar and salt and advocating for healthier eating in her cookbooks. She has tweaked her love for food to adjust the way she celebrates life while still valuing her own.

Change is not something that happens overnight. Change is a progression, especially lasting change.

On our journey for self-love, we must keep in mind to explore new avenues.

To find more tips from Leslie,
check out what she has going on  holisticitilyfe.com