Confession #2

Couple years ago, I was asked to be a part of an organization. I was still a student. I was the youngest person there, but a lot of them were older women, older white women. They were kind of, in a way, a little bit clique-y, I would say. Maybe they just so weren’t aware that there might be someone who’s younger, who had a different background than them, who would see the world differently.

Were in a meeting, like an annual meeting. they were talking about food, they were talking pretty, I would say racistly, about how they, as women, or one of them said that they would never visit Chinatown, because they were afraid of it. And then we got talking on the topic of Indian food, for some reason, because apparently there was a social with Indian food. One of the ladies made some comment about how her clothes were so stinky after. How she brought the smell home with her and how she didn’t like the smell and all the other women laughed and thought it was really funny.

And I was sitting there like…. that’s racist. So anyways, I noticed that right away, because POC and despite the fact that I am a light skinned Asian person… I decided with this group of ladies that I was going to call it out. And I called it racist, white privileged and that comment was unacceptable.

They wrote back a letter to me saying that I was wrong, that I judged them all as women and I don’t know them. And that I was the one who was inappropriate. I felt that if I didn’t say anything, no one would say anything.

What they had demonstrated as a group of women, they demonstrated something called white fragility, which is a very common thing when you call out racism or when you call out white privilege…. It’s just so hard for them to fathom that being called the racist is worse than actually experiencing racism.

Johane Filemon


My name is Johane Filemon and I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with over 15 yrs of experience in the field of nutrition. My academic background is in Exercise Science and Dietetics with a master’s degree in Food and Nutrition Science.

I started my private practice, Wonderfully Nutritious Solutions, LLC, in 2014 after a few years in the clinical setting because I wanted to be able to control my own time. My practice is focused on healing gut inflammation which can often lead to other symptoms that one would think is not gut related but is actually gut related. I am also the co-host of Nutrition Lifestyles with Kim & Johane. A podcast geared towards millennial women. Informing on nutrition, wellness and lifestyle with an entertaining flair.

I’ve never found the field of dietetics to be diverse. Even in school I was often the only black person in my classes, especially in grad school. I wasn’t always encouraged in school to be a dietitian. I was once told that I should know that working for WIC did not require me to be a Registered Dietitian. Which was all sorts of disrespectful.

Living in Atlanta has been a blessing because I feel like I live in a black Mecca so to speak LOL. Many of my clients have come to me specifically looking for a black dietitian. I’m very passionate about supporting those who are coming after me and encouraged POC to be part of my field.

Food Insecurity in Canada

Food Insecurity is the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints.

How does it impact us?
Food insecurity can cause difficulty managing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and mood disorders. It can also cause malnutrition (excess or deficiency of nutrients in diet), poor mental health and obesity.

Who does it affect?

  • 1 in 8 Canadian households (12.7%) are affected. This accounts for 4.4 million people and 1.8 million households.
  • 25% of female lone parent households
  • 7% of couples with children
  • 16% of male lone parent households

Black households are 3.56x more likely to experience food insecurity than white households.

Other Resources:
Centre for Studies in Food Security – Ryerson University
McGill Institute for Global Food Insecurity
PROOF – Food Insecurity Policy Research
Food Secure Canada
Food First

Tarasuk V, Mitchell A. (2020) Household food insecurity in Canada, 2017-18. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from
Melana Roberts / February 03, 2. (2020, February 3). Black Food Insecurity in Canada. Retrieved July 29, 2020, from
Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 2017-18

Reem and Zeinab

BFNSc, ’23

Hello! We are Reem and Zeinab from Of Mint and Rosewater. Reem is currently a second year nutrition student and Zeinab studied biochemistry during her time in university.

Reem wanted to share her experience being a Muslim hijab wearing female in a nutrition program in Canada.

The nutrition program that I am in is only offered in french so it feels extremely exclusive. In my year, there are a few BIPOC, but it’s staggering how few there are. Interestingly though, there is a handful of fellow Lebanese students.

Due to the nature of the program being a French program, there seems to be a large number of white French speaking students and you get a sense the everyone is a bit cliquey. Not overwhelming so but the program does feel a bit cliquey where everyone just sticks with their own group and doesn’t really socialize much outside of their groups. However, I will say that as a person of colour, I personally have never felt excluded or treated differently in any way. I personally have never felt like other students or professors treat myself or any other BIPOC any differently.

Food Privilege

Simply put, “food privilege” is the ability to choose between a variety of food options, that people without privilege may not have. Food privilege can appear in different ways. Here are a few forms:

  • Ability to afford nutritious food
  • Ability to afford “organic” or “free range” produce
  • Ability to choose between different diets
  • Access to grocery stores
  • Access to cultural foods
  • Safe drinking water
  • Time to cook a variety of meals
  • Eating out at nice restaurants
  • Consulting nutritionists/dietitians without medical need
What Influences food privilege?
  • Income: Income determines your ability to afford food at all OR picking between Walmart or Whole Foods. People with a low income may choose the highest calorie for $ value foods to feed their families.
  • Free Time: Eating nutritious food often requires cooking, prepping and cleaning food yourself. Convenient healthy food is often expensive.
  • Race: Black children in America were more exposed to junk food advertisements, in relation to white children.
  • Geographic location: gaining access to grocery stores within a few miles/kilometers is a big determinant of food privilege. Keep reading to learn about food swamps and food deserts.

Food Insecurity: food insecurity is the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints. It is a serious problem that negatively impacts physical, mental, and social health, and costs our healthcare system considerably. In Canada, 1 in 8 people or 4.4 million people (12.7%) are food insecure. This is approximately the population of Panama. In America, 1 in 9 people or 37 million people (11.11%) are food insecure. This is approximately the population of Canada.

Food Desert: An urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. Food deserts are common in economically disadvantaged locations in America.

Food Swamps:

Geographical area with adequate access to healthy food retail, but that also features an overabundance of exposure to less healthy food and beverages.

Tarasuk V, Mitchell A. (2020) Household food insecurity in Canada, 2017-18. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from

Noura Sheikhalzoor


My name is Noura Sheikhalzoor. I’m originally Syrian born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I graduated from the dietetics program from the United Arab Emirates University. I then immigrated to Canada with my family. I have always been interested in cultures (including foods, beliefs, celebrations, and more). I then studied at Ryerson University and the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. I felt always different but in a positive way sharing my culture, food and celebrations. I talked about topics on food security, Ramadan and diabetes, Muslim community in Saskatoon, and more. I’m still interested in learning about cultures, and this is what I learn from my clients everyday. I also mentor a group of dietetic students on PCOS and cultural sensitivity. I believe we have a lot of work to do to learn, unlearn, and relearn and have an open mind testing our own beliefs and biases and understanding others.

What is Privilege?

As this blog discusses social justice and how it intersects with food, it is important to recognize what privilege is and how we can use it to help others.

Privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

This can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Racial privilege
  • Male privilege
  • Cisgender privilege
  • Heterosexual privilege
  • Socioeconomic privilege
  • Able-bodied privilege
  • Educational privilege

Here are some resources to enhance your understanding of privilege:

Okay, I understand what privilege is. What can I do about it?

  1. Recognize your privilege. This step will be a LONG process. Know that you will need to keep learning in your journey for social justice.
  2. Start learning about experiences of underprivileged people. Read individual stories and learn about systemic injustices.
  3. Use your privilege to speak and act. Voice your concerns about injustices, ask questions and amplify voices. Sign petitions and donate money to organizations that actively fight against injustices. There are many ways to use your privilege to serve others.
  4. Be aware of your privilege when engaging in difficult conversations. Keep in mind that some issues may not affect you the way they affect others. Be mindful of others’ experiences in your social justice journey.

Lina Rahouma

BASc, ’20

Hey there! My name is Lina and I’m a recent graduate of the nutrition and food program at Ryerson. Being Egyptian, living in Kuwait and US and studying in Canada, has provided me with a rich cultural background that contributed to my diverse lens and perspective in dietetics. Over the course of the past couple of years, I have gained a wealth of experiences that include working with vulnerable populations, research, education, food service and multiple international opportunities.

One of my most memorable experiences was spending a month in India working on a research project with a group of Ryerson students.

I will be continuing my studies at Sick kids Hospital for the dietetic practicum. If you have any questions about any of my experiences, the program or even just about being a student, feel free to reach out!

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

with accredited nutrition programs

What is an HBCU?
Historically Black colleges and universities were post secondary education institutions that were established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was the education of Black students in a safe, inclusive space.

There are 101 HBCUs in America.

So which are accredited?

Alabama A & M University: Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and General Dietetics
Oakwood University: Bachelor of Science in Dietetics
Tuskegee University: Bachelor of Science in Dietetics

Delaware State University: Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutritional Science

District of Columbia:
Howard University: Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences
University of the District of Columbia: Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics

Fort Valley State University: Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition

Southern University and A & M College: Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences, concentration in Dietetics

Morgan State University: Bachelor of Science in Nutrition
University of Maryland Eastern Shore: Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology: Dietetics/Nutrition

Alcorn State University: Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics

North Carolina:
North Carolina A & T State University: Bachelor of Science degree
North Carolina Central University: Bachelor of Science degree

South Carolina:
South Carolina State University: Bachelor of Science degree

Prairie View A & M University: Bachelor of Science degree
Texas Southern University: Bachelor of Science degree

Norfolk State University: Bachelor of Science degree
Virginia State University: Bachelor of Science degree


#HBCU #HistoricallyBlackCollegeandUniversities

Nadina Villacis

BASc, ’22

My name is Nadina Kavita Villacis. I’m a Canadian-Guyanese-Indian woman. I was born in Canada after my parents immigrated from Guyana. My South American origin has always played a large part in my life, especially when it comes to food. I love being a part of so many cultures and mixing them into my cooking. Guyanese and Indian dishes have similarities but also so many differences that make them unique.

Two years ago, I decided to make the switch from psychology to nutrition. I’m excited to mix my psychology background and knowledge with nutrition. I have a passion for nutrition and my future goal is to be a Registered Dietitian (RD).

I’m grateful to be featured here (Thank you Christabel for creating @nutritiondiversified) and hope to bring more to the BIPOC community. As a woman of colour, I know what it feels to face racism. Sadly, even to this day my family faces racism. But as a woman of colour I’m also excited to be entering the dietetics field. I’ve just dipped my toes into the field, but I can see that there is more to be done, and I can’t wait to be a part of the growth of diversity in dietetics.

I think that in this community, there is a lot to learn about different cultures. As future health professionals learning about how other cultures eat and cook is a great way to support and connect with the BIPOC Community.

You can find me @nadinaskitchen, putting a healthy spin on everyday favourite recipes, sharing a variety of dishes from different cultures and sharing evidence-based nutrition information.