Vamos Talks with Zariel Grullón

Vamos Talks with Zariel Grullón

Vamos Foods sat down with Zariel Grullón RDN, CDN. As a registered dietician, Grullón strives to create community for her audience by promoting body positivity and a healthy relationship with food. Her Dominican background serves as a foundation for her work, but her goal is to impact the entire Latinx community. 

When asked about her journey in the health industry, Grullón explained that seeing her family’s relationship with food encouraged her to promote a healthy relationship with food for others. 

“My favorite answer to this question is usually the relationship that I saw my family have with food and illness, and how they were either able to improve their condition of their health or let their health worsen,” Grullón said. “In learning about diet culture and the way that our foods, culturally, are taught to us to not be nutritious, I had centered my message around coming back to the basics, culturally, and understanding that our foods are nutritious.”

As Vamos strives to prioritize the Latinx community in the health conversation, Zariel discussed the importance of the Latinx culture as a source of inspiration for her own work. 

“I think that [the Latinx community] is the center of everything I do,” Grullón said. “Being able to understand the little nuances in the the way that we talk to each other about our bodies and our food, I feel  like being able to connect with folks that way helps to keep me grounded so that I can always stay connected to me, my culture, and my experiences and use it as a tool to have an opportunity to heal those things that come up when we’re thinking about our relationship with food or diet culture.”

Grullón takes pride in her Dominican roots, which also influence her work in the health industry. 

“Yes I’m Latina, but there are all these other things that we do as Caribbean Latinos,” Grullón said. “Connecting to our foods and connecting our foods to our African ancestry, all of that shows up in the way that I’m educating about food.”

Grullón wants her audience to feel welcome and uses the word “comadre” to invite all members of the Latinx community. 

“That relationship with that person, an actual comadre, is a unique relationship and using that word as an identifier, that’s how I want my community to feel,” Grullón explained. “The whole use of the word is something that I wanted to be very inclusive of everyone, but I want something more gender-neutral now.”

Some creative work that motivates Grullón’s audience include her social media videos. She will also be starting nutrition coaching and counseling this year. 

“The thing that gets the most reactions is when I do skits emulating a titi,” Grullón said. “We say titi but like a tia that is very pushy for food. I call her titi Claudia. Whenever I do stuff like that, that helps identify the figure of diet culture, that really helps my comadres identify diet culture in their day-to-day life so they’re able to reflect on it.” 

Grullón  has adopted a “ditch la dieta” theme to help her audience better their own relationship with food and their bodies. 

“If you look at the [ditch the diet] hashtag, it’s a very white space,” Grullon said. “I fiddled with it by doing “ditch la dieta” so people can see a Latina talking about the same things. I get messages sometimes [and] because of something I posted, [followers] decided to eat breakfast instead of skipping it. These little moments where we’re rejecting diet culture can show up because of this whole idea of ditching whatever we were subscribed to and relearning ourselves.”

Grullón shared some of her current go-to Latin flavors with Vamos. 

“Healthy Rican gifted me her sofrito and it’s a dehydrated sofrito,” Grullón explained. “I’ve been sprinkling it on everything. Platanos can be a snack any time of the day filled with a lot of delicious things like fiber. I’m always advocating for platanos to be on people’s plates.”

Grullón leaves the Latinx community with a message of encouragement, as she prompts them to pursue their career interests. 

“For Latinos entering any field, do it,” Grullón said. “We get discouraged a lot by academia, professors, and people telling us that we can’t do it because of whatever assumptions they have about us. Ignore them and do the things we want to do because we know ourselves more.”

Grullon's work and additional resources can be found here.


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