Lifestyle "maven" B. Smith knew early on that she'd pursue a career in fashion and entertainment. A television and radio talent, author, restaurateur and home décor authority, Smith is now using her popularity to promote healthy lifestyle choices as well. Recently honored with the National Kidney Foundation's Visionary Award, Smith says she knows all too well what it's like to be hooked up to a dialysis machine. Her father was diabetic and her brother died from complications of kidney disease due to diabetes, so she's determined to spread the word about the importance of diet and exercise in protecting the kidneys, especially in the African American community.
Smith has spent lots of time and energy on diabetes education because "three-quarters of African American women are obese and so many health problems stem from that. These women resign themselves to the fact that they will get the ‘sugar' as they refer to diabetes. But I want them to understand that Type 2 Diabetes, which causes kidney disease and so many other problems, is totally preventable," says Smith. She feels that being healthy is not just for the sake of the individual, but rather for the greater good. "People who work hard to stay healthy avoid the huge health care costs, terrible strain on relationships and the horror of passing disease down as a legacy through generations."
Smith partners with a company that creates healthy meals which are sent to soldiers in the U.S. army. "If soldiers aren't at the right body weight and they're not eating healthy, then they can't properly defend all of us and that is truly a national security risk," says Smith.
Smith works to make healthy food appealing, doing menu makeovers for diabetics by substituting healthy ingredients for those that are high in fat and sugar content. Adding fiber, vegetables and using whole wheat pasta are some of the ways she enables them to enjoy the basic dishes they've always liked. The lifestyle entrepreneur and veteran restaurateur also has a line of olive oil, yet another way she encourages others to use healthy alternatives in their recipes.
Smith, who recently made her Off-Broadway debut in Nora and Delia Ephron's award-winning play "Love, Loss and What I Wore," says she's thrilled to have a starring role in helping the National Kidney Foundation spread the word about kidney health and the life-saving power of organ donation.