By Danielle Henderson
Faculty, College of Nursing and Health Care Professions
Growing up, I remember always being disappointed when vegetables were put on my plate, but I never asked myself why. In high school I was excited because we were allowed to go off campus for lunch, which meant I had one meal of day with “freedom.” There were plenty of fast food options within walking distance and once my friends and I started to drive, possibilities were endless.
As a freshman in college I continued this eating out trend. But once I moved off campus, I began to cook often. While I was eating healthier than I had ate since living at home, it wasn’t until I graduated and began teaching health in a Brooklyn, New York high school that I started to learn the power of food.
The health teacher before me left materials in the classroom, including a yellow DVD titled King Corn. Out of desperation for an in-class activity one day, I played the DVD, which discussed corn in America. I learned that everything, and I mean almost everything is made with corn. This led me to watch a second documentary about food, titled, Food, Inc.
After watching Food, Inc., I decided I was done eating meat. I thought this would last one week, but it turned in to six years of being a vegetarian. My family was skeptical, my friends were skeptical, but I stuck with it. My main motivator was that I wanted to practice what I was preaching to my students.
Fast forward six years, I came home one day, and my mom was watching a documentary about food. I asked, “What are you watching.” She replied, “A new documentary, ‘What the Health’, I’m going to become a vegan.” I looked at her with a blank stare, sat down and we started it over. We were both surprised to learn how food has cured chronic disease in so many.
After reading more books (two of my favorites are “How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease” by Michael Gregor and “Food: What the heck should I eat?” By Mark Hyman) I decided to embody a plant-based lifestyle. But really, the biggest thing I’ve learned, is to pay attention to how food makes me feel. It’s not about losing weight or the new fad diet.
Food is fuel.
When I eat fried food, I don’t feel good. When I eat a fresh salad filled with vegetables, nuts and an olive oil based dressing, I do. To date, I have been plant based for almost two years. I still eat out, for there is always a healthy option. Sometimes I have to be bold and ask the waiter or waitress, but I have never been turned away. I’ve learned to cook so many new things and really I embrace the journey I am having with food. I encourage everyone to find the foods that make them feel good physically and mentally. It is one thing you can do to be the best you.
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- Anderson, K., & Kuhn, K. (Producers), & Anderson, K. and Kuhn, K. (Directors). (2017). What the health. [Video/DVD] Santa Rosa, CA: A.U.M. Films & Media.
- Greger, M. (2015). How not to die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. New York: Flatiron Books.
- Hyman, M. (2018). Food: What the heck should I eat? (1st ed.). Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
- Kenner, R. and Pearlstein, E. (Directors). (2009). Food, inc. [Video/DVD] Los Angeles, CA: Magnolia Home Entertainment.
- Cheney, I., Ellis, C., & Woolf, A. (Producers), & Woolf, A. (Director). (2007). King corn. [Video/DVD] Balcony Releasing.