How Taraji P. Henson's Health Scare Motivated Her to Help 'Save Women from Being in the Position' She Was in

"My mission is to save women from being in the position I was in. ... Those food choices led me to the emergency room and I just don't want another woman to have to go through that," the Empire star, who has partnered with Special K, tells PEOPLE

Taraji P. Henson wound up in an emergency room as a result of her food choices. Now, she’s on a mission to help women make better decisions with their diet — and prevent them from making the same mistakes that led to her own hospitalization.

“Recently, I had a health issue where it was because of food that was causing me to have really bad gastritis in my stomach, so I was forced to make better choices. And then once I started learning about what was happening to me physically — knowledge is power, and I found out that it was the food choices that I was making that put me in this predicament,” the Empire star tells PEOPLE.

“My mission is to save women from being in the position I was in. You don’t want to wake up one day and you can’t keep water down. Those food choices led me to the emergency room and I just don’t want another woman to have to go through that,” says Henson. “When it’s all because of me, that can be prevented in what we choose to eat and what we choose to put in our bodies.”

Henson, 46, has teamed up with Kellogg’s Special K — “I love Special K! I’ve been eating Special K cereal for as long as I can remember. Cereal was a part of my childhood,” she says — and is encouraging women to #OwnIt by combating any self-doubt about their food choices and eat with confidence.

Taraji P. Henson Fuels Up Backstage with Kellogg's Special K at the Today Show.
Sara Jaye Weiss/Startraks

According to a survey conducted by Kellogg’s, “90 percent of women in the United States question or doubt their food and spend 61 minutes second-guessing their choices – every day” and “59 percent of women say they spend more time thinking about what they eat than what they wear.”

WATCH: Taraji P. Henson Is One of PEOPLE’s World’s Most Beautiful

But Henson wants to help change that and is rallying to empower women to own what they’re eating without shame.

“Ownership in life gives you confidence. If you are confident about the choices that you’re making in your food, then you can own it. I know I can own something that I feel good about. You can’t own it if you feel guilty about the choices that you’re making. But once you take ownership, then you’re taking control of your life – you’re taking control of your health and that’s a better position to play instead of letting the food take control of you,” she shares.

“It’s all about choices. If you make better choices for yourself then you feel better about yourself. If I choose a Special K bar that has fiber, folic acid, vitamin A and D over a Snickers bar, it’s a better choice for me so I don’t have to beat myself up all day long about that Snickers bar or feel bad when I go to my trainer and have to admit: ‘I had a Snickers bar today. I know it wasn’t the best choice.’ So in conjunction with my workout, if I’m making great and healthy food choices, then I’m going to feel better about myself. I’m definitely going to see better results in the gym,” she shares.

On Monday, the actress — alongside a clock-inspired installation — will be in Times Square, New York, with Special K, where she will be highlighting just how much time women spend doubting their food choices and hopes to “relay to these women: take your life back.”


She also is aiming to encourage women to, “own the choices that they’re making with their food. Be confident in their food choices and hopefully give them a better option to make better choices for their health and lifestyle.”

Henson adds: “That’s what I’m trying do — free women from being slaves to food.”

Related Articles