Every time you scroll through Instagram or flip through a women’s magazine, odds are that you see at least a handful of people telling you what you should and shouldn’t be eating; preaching that one food will absolutely make you glow from the inside out and cure all of your health ailments, while another might as well be the equivalent to poison.
It’s hard to figure out exactly what foods are best for us — but Wendy Lopez and Jessica Jones are here to help you, from the mouths of actual dieticians. They believe that you can get all the nutrients your body needs while still eating delicious food, and they promote their mission through their multimedia platform, Food Heaven.
Jessica’s career technically started out in the food industry, but not in the way you’d assume; when she was in high school, she worked at Hot Dog on a Stick, where ironically, she couldn’t eat anything because she was already a vegetarian.
While Jessica and Wendy were in school, they played a role in the New York City Department of Health’s Stellar Farmers Markets initiative, which promotes nutrition in underrepresented communities that are low on fruit and vegetable consumption. Jessica was a part of the founding team.
“It taught me how to simplify nutrition information,” Jessica said. “People want you to show them versus tell them when it comes to different options for healthy eating.”
After Jessica worked there for a year, Wendy joined the team, where they worked for Farmers Markets specifically in the Bronx. When the season ended, they decided they wanted to start something that continued on after.
“We wanted to continue the momentum we had going and wanted to keep spreading the word about our balance and our inclusive healthy eating message. We decided that we wanted to do a television show on Brooklyn Public Access TV,” Jessica said.
“I remember I applied with a pitch for Food Heaven, and they accepted our pitch. From there, our friends and family said that they didn’t live in Brooklyn and didn’t have access to the channel but wanted to see what we were doing and wanted us to put it online. We started on Vimeo and YouTube, and it grew from there.”
From working at the Stellar Farmers Market initiative, Jessica and Wendy learned how to express the importance of health and nutrition in a way that was inclusive and non-intimidating.
“We know from research that having a balanced diet is going to reduce our risk of getting various chronic diseases,” Jessica said. “It’s really important that people try to find that balance that is sustainable for them in the long-term. I have a lot of people who come to me and say they want to be vegetarian, but if they tell me that they love meat and wouldn’t want to be a vegetarian forever, I’ll sit down with them and talk about what the benefits of being a vegetarian would be long-term if it’s not something sustainable.”
It’s really important that people try to find that balance that is sustainable for them in the long-term.
Jessica believes that having a nutritious, balanced diet is all about making choices that are sustainable by starting with one manageable change.
“It’s all about making small changes that we can incorporate into our daily lives. Not even just with eating, but also with our overall self-care routines. Are we sleeping enough? Eating enough? Is there some sort of joyful movement that you’re doing most days?” Jessica said.
It’s all about making small changes that we can incorporate into our daily lives.
Jess and Wendy also decided to start the Food Heaven Podcast, which they started in 2015, where they talk about all things food, health, and nutrition. They’ve tackled issues like why everyone needs therapy, how to own your style at any size, and how to eat healthy while traveling.
In 2017, Jess and Wendy released a cookbook, 28-Day Plant-Powered Reboot, which is a guide to plant-based eating.
“It’s really exciting because you’re able to put all of the recipes in one place and create recipes you believe in, and hopefully have a guide for folks that is helpful and exciting,” Jessica said. “We want to make cooking fun, not complicated.”
In the future, Jessica hopes to grow the Food Heaven platform and make it a hub for people who want “balanced, evidence-based, inclusive nutrition advice.”
“I would love to see Food Heaven bigger in the conversation when it comes to wellness, even potentially having some kind of creative space or photo studio that focuses on featuring diverse talent and narratives when it comes to what’s portrayed in wellness. Something as simple as an agency that took photographs for different brands or media outlets, and instead of having a food spread with all white people, having it be people of color. I want to make things a little more inclusive with a little more representation.”
Jessica and Wendy are The Everygirls…
Favorite summer activity?
J: Night bike riding
W: Laying in my local park listening to music
Who’s the most famous person you’ve met?
J: I once interviewed and did a profile on Amy Winehouse
W: Ariana Huffington (we were honored by her organization, Thrive Global!)
Favorite food to eat for breakfast?
J: Oatmeal with chopped nuts (often almonds), and a sliced banana or berries
W: Eggs with toast! Simple and filling
Last album you played on repeat?
J: Nipsey Hussle, Victory Lap
W: Ozuna, Aura
Most underrated snack?
J: Toast and nut butter
W: Almonds, cheese, and crackers (all together!)
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
J: Beyonce. I want to see what her personality is really like.
W: Maria Hinojosa. I would soak up all her wisdom.
This article was originally published on February 7, 2020.