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The Black Health 365 podcast delves into food insecurity in Black communities. How did we get here, and how does it affect Black health today?

On this episode of Black Health 365, hosts Jackie Paige and Britt Daniels discuss how food insecurity has impacted Black health with guest Jessica Wilson, MS, RDN, a clinical dietitian and author of It’s Always Been Ours: Rewriting the Story of Black Women’s Bodies.

Wilson traces deep-rooted food insecurity to the centuries of trauma inflicted on Black people in America dating back to the transatlantic slave trade.

“A lot of us will say it’s food apartheid. ‘Food desert’ implies there’s a lack or it’s naturally occurring, but it’s super intentional,” says Wilson. “We have legacy, we have post-traumatic stress [and] intergenerational trauma. We have so many things that are impacting our health today that have nothing to do with our circumstances today.”

Food insecurity has impacted not only physical health but body image as well. “I don’t think we can separate [body image], especially as Black folks, from how we’re taught that our bodies should be or conform to what whiteness demands of us,” says Wilson.

She also discusses the relationship between BBLs and disordered eating in the Black community, body privilege, and society’s treatment of Black women’s bodies.

Wilson’s approach to healthy eating and a healthy body image is rooted in understanding that the Black community faces challenges around these issues that are unique to the Black experience. “[The] pressures are different for us. We may not want to be the thin ideal or the beauty ideal, we may just want to be safer in society and shrinking ourselves can be one way to do that,” she says.

In other words, the key to better health may not be as simple as making general “lifestyle changes.” Understanding how we got here, at a systemic level, is equally important in solving the problem. “We can’t undo these centuries worth of stress, trauma, adverse childhood events,” Wilson notes.

As a clinical dietitian, Wilson explains her decidedly individualized approach to healthy eating: scrap the labels. “I don’t label, because that inherently pathologizes and problematizes some foods. And that’s always going to be cultural foods,” she says.

Instead, Wilson acknowledges the cultural background and cuisine of each individual client in her practice, challenging conventional approaches to healthy eating.

Listen to the full conversation with Jessica Wilson on Black Health 365 here.


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