In honor of Juneteenth, we're beginning a series to highlight BIPOC creators that are making an impact in the food and wellness space. We’ve interviewed experts across the wellness industry, from chefs and foodies to medical professionals, and we are so inspired by them.
Meet Medical Student Brooklynne Palmer
Brooklynne Palmer @beetsbybrooke is a vegan medical student and social media content creator who uses her platform to explore the intersectionality of all things health and wellness while sharing insights into her life as a future plant based doctor.
1. What inspired you to pursue medicine?
With my love of science and the human body along with my interpersonal skills, I felt drawn to medicine as a field - especially after becoming more knowledgeable about the healthcare disparities seen in the US. This inspired me to one day strive to be a voice in this field for the communities that often need medical services the most yet with the most amount of barriers to care. I was also inspired by the vast amount of information we had about food impacting health and wanted to help empower people with personalized knowledge to achieve the quality of life they desire.
2. What do you wish more people knew about plant-based/vegan eating?
I wish people knew that living this way typically comes with a lot of privileges (access to a variety of food, cooking skills, mental health stabilities, and more) and to not be deterred or defeated if you're not able to go 100% especially right away. Whatever someone's goal is to live/eat this way, there is a wide spectrum and any push along that spectrum will help achieve that goal. On a lighter note, I also wish people knew that GI upset/bloating with more plant-based foods is typically a sign that your body needs to adjust to the fiber and it's good to take it slow and not give up if that happens!
3. What are 3 things you'd like to see more of in the healthcare space?
Recognizing our role in weight stigma, understanding the importance of food and collaborating with our RD teammates more, and that prioritization of the wellness of healthcare providers so we can show up our best selves every day.
4. We LOVE and share your views on anti-diet culture. What are your thoughts on dieting/fad diets, and food guilt?
My thoughts on dieting is that diets CLEARLY don't work - because if they did, we wouldn't see a new fad diet every few months (because we'd just lose weight and be done with them, rightt?). People need to remember that the diet industry is a business, and the best thing a business can do is to have loyal customers that keep coming back. A major predictor of disordered eating AND weight gain is dieting. Additionally - any form of food guilt is harmful and sadly often normalized in our society. There is space for all foods that you love and restricting or shaming ourselves usually results in negative outcomes - including lower satisfaction in life. No thanks!
Meet Food and Lifestyle Blogger Alexi
Alexi is a food and lifestyle blogger, mom, and creator of the blog @eatwell.withlex with over 14K followers. She focuses on easy, approachable, and wholesome recipes families will love with pockets of inspiration from home and motherhood.
Q: How did you get started in the food space?
I was a Jamaican American, first-generation college student and athlete at a PWI wanting to eat good, feel good and live good. That felt far-fetched and unattainable because I did not see anyone that looked like me doing it. I saw the need for a shift in mindset regarding health and wellness for Black people, new approaches to living well, and more women of color voices in the industry.
This inspired me to start sharing my journey on Instagram from my lifestyle practices to easy, affordable and wholesome recipes. I wanted young Black women to know that living well is attainable without eating a salad everyday, doing pilates, sacrificing flavor or emptying their pockets.
Q: How do you balance motherhood and recipe creation?
By the grace of God. This is a season in my life where I just go with the flow and figure it out each day. Some days I look at myself in the mirror and say “Wow you are killing it” because being a mom and content creator is probably the hardest thing I've done. I often struggle with finding balance but I've learned to do what I can. Pre-baby I would film, edit and write the copy for recipes in one day but now I have to do things in segments which requires a lot of early planning, prioritization and time management. What's been working for me lately is creating content weeks in advance so I have enough time to film and edit without stretching myself thin. Most days I wake up at 5am to get as many things done and at least one recipe filmed before the baby wakes up. Her nap times are my power work hours and whenever she is awake she gets my undivided attention. If I absolutely need to work she is generally right by me in the kitchen playing with pots and cups.
Q: How do you stay inspired?
There are a few things that keep me inspired. I have a future benchmark of achievements that encourages me everyday to work towards my dreams. In addition to that, my mission is to help women and seeing the significance of my impact inspires me to keep going in order to give more.
Q: What is your favorite food memory?
For me this is a collection of childhood memories from growing up in Jamaica and eating lots of fresh fruits and flavorful dishes. From jerk chicken on Fridays, fried fish and festival at the beach and eating freshly picked mangoes under the tree at my grandmother's house. I loved and missed it all.
Meet Registered Dietitian Johane Filemon
Johane M. Filemon, MS, RDN, CLT @blacknutritionistmama is a Registered Dietitian with 10 years of experience in the field of Nutrition, is a Mom of 5 boys, and an expert in Gut health nutrition inclusive of culture.
1. What inspired you to want to become a Registered Dietitian?
In the beginning, my goal was not to be a Registered Dietitian believe it or not. I didn’t even know of dietitians as a career. I was headed to medical school because I always thought becoming a doctor was what I wanted. During my pre-med exercise science route, we were required to take nutrition courses. This is how I discovered the field of dietetics and nutrition! I became enamored with the field mainly because of my love for food. I grew up in a house where my dad was a French chef, and my mom also went to culinary school as my dad did but only for fun. It was always an explosion of good food at my house. Being able to merge my passion for medicine with my passion for food was a no brainer!
There have been lots of obstacles in my path as a Black woman in the field of nutrition. Not seeing anyone else that looks like me. Not knowing who to ask for support that would really understand my history. Feeling guilty for loving my cultural foods that I knew were healthy even though the books I was learning from were not promoting them as healthy foods. It has been a crazy journey getting to where I am at now. Social media has done what others have not been able to do over the years, which is bring together as many people of color as possible who are pushing the same message of inclusivity when it comes to nutrition. I love that I’m able to educate and show those who are completely lost because they see themselves nowhere in health recommendations that they do not have to give up their identity to live a healthy lifestyle.
2. We know you’re a gut health expert. What are small changes you can make to your diet to make a big difference in your gut?
Start with the basics. People often think they need to start with drastic measures to get their gut health on track. What should first be examined is if they are doing the very basics. Are you limiting foods that are deficient in nutrients? Are you consuming mainly lots of colorful plant-based foods? Are you well hydrated? This is where you start first. If you are doing these things, which means you are consuming adequate fiber and foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (following the plate method is great way to do this), drinking enough water to assistant in bowel movement and you are still experiencing abnormal digestive issues, then it is time to seek a specialist.