Interview with a Nutritarian: Talia Fuhrman
Talia Fuhrman, the oldest daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Fuhrman, may possibly be one of only a handful of young adults in the US that has now been eating high-nutrient foods since birth. I thought it would be motivational to interview Talia, age 25, not only to inspire the young people of America, but also to encourage all the parents who are doing their best to raise children to eat for health in a culture that promotes just the opposite.
What was it like for you growing up in a home that had ample selections of delicious and healthy foods to eat at all times?
As bad as the American obesity and disease epidemic is today, times were certainly different when I was a child and a teenager. These days people know what a vegan means, more people are vegetarians and overall, we are seeking the birth of an increasingly health-conscious America. When I was younger, my family was an odd anomaly in our community of standard American eaters. My feelings about living in this healthy-eating environment evolved over time and became so much more positive as I grew from my childhood and into my early teens.
I definitely felt different from my peers! It would be impossible not to feel different when my parents were preparing cashew cream kale for dinner and zucchini filled “brownies” in my lunches when my friends were opening boxes of cookies and obsessing over their Lunchables lunch boxes and Lucky Charms cereal. Prior to middle school, I wanted to be like my friends and would beg my parents to have the pizza served on Fridays at my school’s cafeteria and cake at birthday parties. Fights with my parents about food often occurred at home, but they allowed me to have some of my favorite “junk foods” like pretzels at the mall and pizza at school every now and then. If they had been too strict and didn’t allow me to eat any conventional foods, I think this would have put a dent in our relationship as I grew older.
I did absolutely love the foods my parents made for me at home and I didn’t feel deprived with the plentiful selection of healthy fruits and vegetables, and it was only in social settings that I desired to be like my friends and eat what they were eating. As a child, some of my favorite foods were strawberry banana “ice cream” made with frozen bananas and soymilk, and sweet potatoes mashed with coconut milk and cinnamon. I loved organic strawberries and I have vivid memories of running around our living room while eating lettuce leaves. When my dad began preparing homemade date-nut balls, which he now sells on DrFuhrman.com as “date-nut pop’ems,” that was a very good day.
What did your parents do to help you make the transition into social settings away from home?
They taught me why it was important to eat healthy foods and the negative consequences of eating junk foods. My parents did a good job of teaching me that their desire for me to eat healthy foods was out of love for me and wanting me to be a healthy person. Once I was old enough to make my own eating choices, they let me make my own decisions in social settings. I never went to a birthday party in which my parents wouldn’t let me have a slice of pizza or piece of cake if I wanted it, and if I decided to make a poor eating choice, I was taught that I would be the one to pay the price with a stomach ache, runny nose or feeling ill.
What were the teen years like for you?
Understandably, my teenage years were very different from those of my childhood. I matured and took it upon myself to read and educate myself about nutrition and had no desire to eat the same foods as my peers. I packed my own school lunches filled with hearty salads and whole-wheat avocado, hummus sandwiches, for instance. I was the girl who ate dried persimmons and macadamia nuts for lunch and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I never dealt with weight gain, fatigue or acne and always had energy.
Tell us about your young adult years. Why did you pursue an undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell, and why are you now working so hard to develop a blog for young people?
Throughout my life, I had exposure to seeing how what we eat affects the quality of our lives; not simply whether or not we will get cancer in our later years, but how we feel on a daily basis. I spent my childhood and teens hanging out in my dad’s office where I got to meet patients who got rid of debilitating health conditions by committing to the nutritarian lifestyle. My passion for nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle blossomed when I was a teenager from the combination of seeing these success stories and my innate love of science.
When I was a freshman in college, I did go through a doubtful phase and questioned whether or not I would get sick of studying nutrition. I pursued a few other career choices but none of them gave me as much satisfaction as studying nutrition. I am passionate about helping people get healthier and never suffer from pain due to avoidable health conditions, and this is why I am developing a blog for a younger audience. The teen years and our 20s are when we start to form our lifestyle and eating habits that we will take with us into adulthood.
My goal for the blog is to foster a positive community in which healthy eating is fun and learning about nutrition isn’t boring. I want to provide all the information that I know about nutrition to a younger audience in a way that is easy to understand, enjoyable, and even stylish. My dream is that living a healthy lifestyle will become what younger people will want to do because it makes them feel good, and because they can have fun with it too. It’s not as difficult as most people think to make smart, health promoting eating choices. Yet, teens and young adults I’ve encountered are totally in the dark, and have no idea they are laying the groundwork for their future health with that they eat today. The first step will be to have the knowledge about which foods are good for us and why it’s important to consume them. After that, people just need to learn how to prepare tasty meals that incorporate these foods. It can become a creative process of trial and error and a rewarding one too. My blog will have easy to prepare, tasty recipes to help people get started in making meals and desserts that are both healthy and delicious as well as nutrition advice that is written in a fun and youthful way.
Thank you Talia ~ we wish you all the best and can’t wait to see what unfolds in the days and years ahead! To view Talia’s blog click here.
image credit: portrait by Esther Boller