We’re thrilled to connect with Eat Well Connect (EWC) member Shahzadi Devje, RD as she shares her thoughts on using nutrition communication as a tool to combat fears associated with COVID-19, realistic approaches to nutrition in this pandemic reality and her perspective on how the virus has adversely affected minority populations in Canada.

And next month, Shahzadi will be participating in EWC’s Inaugural Fireside Chat event. If you’re an EWC member, stay tuned for more information on how you can attend in the coming weeks. And if you’re not yet a member, we’d love to invite you to join our global health professional network!

Given the fear around COVID-19, how can nutrition professionals contribute to evidence-based communication and combat fear-mongering?

In parallel with the fear of the virus, I think we are also battling the virus of fear due to the excessive amount of varying information coming our way. I believe, as nutrition professionals, we can contribute to evidence-based communication and combat fear-mongering with gentleness and sensitivity. Many people are already in a state of panic and heightened anxiety during these unprecedented times. 

As experts in this field, we must be extra vigilant in packaging our messages to avoid adding fuel to the fire. The community is vulnerable, confused and on edge, and we must be mindful of the terminology we use and our approach. Let’s not forget that COVID has caused disruptions in many facets of people’s lives. This includes struggles with mental health, issues relating to food access and availability and employment tensions, to name a few. It is not enough to simply offer blanket statements like, “Eat a healthy balanced diet.” Let’s go further and show people how they can do this in the current climate – staying mindful not to further alienate vulnerable groups and ethnic minorities.

As trusted experts in nutrition, we should lead the way with evidence-based communication to help filter out fake news – especially in such times of crisis. Let’s seek out opportunities to share our knowledge and spread credible information. Let’s use our platforms and networks to empower communities to take care of their health with confidence.  

It goes without saying that we must also take the time to fact-check critically and responsibly to incorporate the best available evidence in our communication.

Since the pandemic began in March, we have begun to learn how this virus is disproportionately affecting certain groups. Have different racial and ethnic populations been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in Canada? If so, how?

Indeed, COVID has hit racialized and ethnic minority groups particularly hard. People may be surprised to know that four million Canadians suffer from food insecurity. And a disproportionate number of Black and ethnic minority groups are food insecure – generally due to income inequality. On the Desi~licious RD blog, we recently tackled race discrimination in Nutrition and discussed how ethnic minorities across Canada lack many standard quality of life measures: financial resources, adequate living space, sense of independence, health, education and support. These social determinants of health are frequently the source of health inequalities that negatively affect health outcomes. Sadly, race has a lot to do with it.

As food and nutrition professionals, we know that there is no superfood that can help cure or prevent COVID-19. What is a realistic and accessible approach to nutrition that you would recommend during this time?

Manage your mental health and do what you can to help yourself and your family. Consider meal planning as a tool to consistently eat healthily, save time, money and reduce stress. Not to mention, decrease food waste too! 

Let’s also remember to be extra kind to ourselves and lose judgemental labels around food and food choices. There seems to be considerable shame and guilt around emotional eating at this time. Remember, this is a natural human response – to seek comfort in times of angst and overwhelm. So, if you find yourself diving into a bag of chips once-in-a-while — cut yourself some slack! Emotional eating is not likely your habitual pattern. But, when food becomes your only means of coping with daily stressors — this could be a red flag and indicate the need for support.


Shahzadi Devje has earned a reputation as a passionate, dedicated, and devoted healthcare professional and advisor – with expertise in delivering nutrition and wellness advice to underserved international communities. By leveraging her experiences as a minority woman, she is able to bring a unique perspective and strives to educate consumers on healthy living best practices.

Shahzadi launched Desi~licious RD Inc in 2009. She utilizes her platform to share simple strategies for healthy living with consumers, local community members, government, not for profit and corporate organizations, drawing upon credible, science-backed strategies to demonstrate how to eat for health and nourish mindfully. While growing her brand, Shahzadi was also an active community volunteer. She was invited to hold the volunteer Chairperson and Editor position with The Ismaili Nutrition Centre (TINC). From 2016 – 2019, she led the strategic vision of the international, volunteer-driven civil society, which strives to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases across 25 countries through better nutrition and an active lifestyle. During her tenure, she nurtured ongoing relationships with high-profile stakeholders at the University of Calgary’s Libin Institute, the Department of Health UK, and the Aga Khan Institutions. Shahzadi has exemplary educational qualifications, including a Master of Science in Global Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

As a food and nutrition leader in national media, she frequently appears on TV, on Canada’s number one lifestyle program: The Marilyn Denis Show and CTV’s Your Morning, along with her international appearance on Discovery Life Channel. Shahzadi is also a regular subject matter expert for Global News and other national and international media outlets. Her commentary has been featured on Forbes, AJC, NPR, Huffpost, NBC, and more.

Shahzadi has 11 years of experience working as a brand spokesperson for many health, food and lifestyle brands. Not to mention her high-profile collaborations with government, corporate and not-for-profit organizations.