Here’s How an Acclaimed Poet Defines Healthy

updated May 30, 2019
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If Lamaya Williams’ business cards listed all of her accomplishments and abilities, they’d have to be the size of billboards. She is an acclaimed poet and author, a college lecturer, and a mother of three children, and she sits on the executive board of her local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. She also makes good soup.

We found out about Williams’ soup-making skills during a recent conversation, when she also told us about her approach to healthy eating, the challenges of going vegan, and what time we should stop by for dinner.

1. When we were setting up this interview, you mentioned that you’d like to be vegan?

Yes, in my mind, I really want to be vegan, but it’s hard. I’ve done it before — my husband and I recently did a 21-day cleanse — but it’s hard to make multiple meals [for myself and the rest of the family] so that’s why I end up kind of failing. Mentally, I do understand why I should be vegan and I would love to get to that point. I just haven’t been able to implement it and stick to it.

2. Is that because of time constraints or family constraints or … ?

I could give you a list of excuses, but I really just need to do it.

3. Why do you think that you need to be vegan?

It’s a combination of health-related reasons, and just the understanding that I really shouldn’t be eating animals. I’ve been able to put a similar restriction into practice with sugar. I can cut out refined sugar for months at a time, then I’ll get back on it and I’m buying Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes and sodas and things I’m not supposed to. But I think it would be harder for me to cut out the sweets than to cut out meat.

4. How do you define being healthy?

It’s feeling good emotionally and mentally, eating the things that I need, and getting adequate exercise. For me, it’s more of a feeling. In my writing, I talk a lot about how I struggle with sizes — I’ve been everything from a six to a 16 — but I’ve gotten away from that. I know how my body feels when I’m doing the right stuff, so I try to do the things that I need to be doing. That’s when I feel the best.

5. What does healthy eating look like for you?

It’s eating a ton of fruits and vegetables, and making that 75 percent of my diet. It’s also cutting out refined sugars, or not drinking my sugar — that’s one I really try to stay away from. I do like vegetables, though, so it’s just trying to be consistent with going to the grocery store, buying them, doing the prep work, all of that stuff.

6. Does planning meals in advance work for you?

It does. We’re actually heading to the grocery store right now, and trying to plan for the week. I was taking notes about what we need to pick up. It’s more challenging than it seems, but it does work. It helps us with our budget, not going to the store every two days, which happens with a family of five. I have a growing girl who eats like a 20-year-old boy and I have a 10-year-old boy who eats like a 20-year-old boy.

7. Do you eat together as a family?

Yes. We don’t necessarily all sit around the table — somebody might be at the computer, somebody’s at the island, I’m standing up — but we’re all together.

8. What’s your favorite healthy breakfast?

I’ve been drinking an organic plant-based protein shake that I mix with cinnamon, instant coffee, and almond milk. It’s quick and it’s filling, which I love.

9. Do you have a favorite grocery snack?

The Cheez-It snack mix! It’s totally not healthy, but it’s really good. I try to buy regular Cheez-Its at Costco for the kids, so I can have a little box of snack mix for myself.

10. What’s your go-to healthy dinner?

I make a lot of soups, and I’m pretty good at it. Anything I can put in one pot is really good.

11. What time should I be at your house for dinner?

It should be ready about 5:30 p.m., so come on through.

12. What do you eat when you’re too tired to cook?


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.