by Taylor Joseph, Community Connections Intern
WAITER: That’s an interesting choice you’ve decided on.
ME: Ya!!! I love the Seared Ahi Tuna Salad. It’s my favorite.
WAITER: You know the tuna’s raw, right?
ME: Ya I know. I said it was my favorite…
This is just an excerpt of a conversation that took place with me, a young black woman. My friend who order the same thing, wasn’t questioned by the waiter. I found it a bit odd. This made me ponder how many people viewed it as weird, that a young black woman would order something delicious and nutritious?
I’m a Nutrition and Food Science major at Texas State University, so I understand the importance of eating healthy. I also understand the difficulty of doing so while in college. Between tight budgets and accessibility to healthy options and then add in ridiculous stereotypes of who should eat what, it can be downright difficult.
I’ve mentioned the phrase, “healthy foods.” As a nutrition student in college, I would define healthy foods as nutrients that promote the well-being of the body in addition to preventing disease. Knowing some of the health risks that black people face across the country, I try my best to treat my body kindly. For the most part I try to avoid foods that are high in sodium and loaded with artificial sweeteners. My kitchen is stocked with a variety of fruits and veggies that I can afford and know how to prepare. I love bread and that’s something that will never change, so I make an effort to ensure that it’s whole grain bread. But I will admit that I’m no saint. Every now and then I breakdown and have a Patty Melt from Whataburger. As cliché as it sounds it is all about moderation for me. Eating a diet that’s balanced makes my body happy.
Before we can solve the problem of eating healthy in college, it is important to define healthy eating. I view it as fueling not only your body, but also your spirit and mind. You can’t have one without the others. Having a healthy body, mind and spirit are the building blocks to everything else in life.
Going to a predominantly white school, sometimes I feel that there’s a sense of shock with my personal food preferences among people I know. Often I choose healthy foods that are considered by some, “white foods.” I’ve even been asked why I’m not eating “black foods?” Since when did certain foods belong to a certain race? When did healthy belong to a certain race? Well they don’t.
Eating healthy while black and in college has its challenges. I realized it’s not about conforming to what other’s think I should eat, but to what nourishes my body, mind and spirit.
Taylor Joseph is a Community Connections Intern with Food for Black Thought. A military child, she’s lived in many different states and traveled to many countries. Her dad’s family is from Belize, and her grandmother has always prepared Belizean dishes. Part of her love for food comes from experiencing various cultures and cuisines. In December 2016, Taylor will graduates with a Bachelors Degree of Science in Food Consumer Science (minor in Health and Wellness) from Texas State University-San Marcos.