Food Fear...and a personal apology

There’s been a bit of controversy and discussion lately on the subject of “clean-eating”, on-line nutrition information, and the pursuit of perfect health (otherwise referred to in some circles as “orthorexia”).  I’ve read a lot of great articles on this subject in the last few weeks that offer interesting perspectives, including realistic, down-to-earth and reasonable information.   I would like to list them here for your review and hope you will keep in mind the damage fear-based nutrition information can have on physical and mental health.  I would also encourage you to look at the bigger picture of health as you keep an open mind and read each article in it's entirety before making a judgment.  

Food Fear, I Have Web Fear
The Food Babe Blogger 
Food Fears
Orthorexia Nervosa - NEDA

*Updated to add:

The Logical Failures of Food Fads
Confront Death by Avoiding Fritos
How the Gluten Free Movement is Ruining Our Relationship With Food

No one, including me, is going to disagree with the health benefits of eating less packaged foods and more foods in their whole form.  There is great value in nourishing your body with wholesome foods as one part of self-care.  However, it’s easy to get swept up in food fear and lose sight of the bigger picture.  Speaking to the first article listed, I have a lot of compassion for the woman described there.  I have not only seen her in my office, I have been her.  I don’t wish to go into great detail on that decade long struggle, or just how severe it became.  I will say the great paradox is that my quest for perfect health lead to deep physical and psychological scars that I have fought hard to overcome.  And what I thought was about the food wasn’t really about the food at all, once I was able to be truly honest with myself.

I bring this up because I was a practicing Registered Dietitian at the time.  I shudder each time I think about the fact that I was giving nutrition advice to people who trusted me when I was in this state of fear, judgment and disordered eating, or who may have read blog posts I wrote when in a critical mindset.  To be honest, that has weighed heavily and something I accept full responsibility for.  To be fair to myself, I did what I thought was helpful at the time, but when you know better you do better.  Sometimes you have to go down the wrong road to find the right one.  I did it all to myself, but I will work the rest of my career in providing nutrition information that is love-based rather than fear-based so as not to make anyone feel like I did. Please consider this my apology, which is probably part of my own healing more than yours. 

I believe strongly in second chances and becoming better and I wouldn’t trade any of my past experiences.  I have found deep happiness, joy and love in my quest to make peace with food and letting go of perfection and I am so honored to help others do the same.  Life is a learning process; something I have learned to enjoy each and every moment.  While I respect that every situation is different, I finally feel at home in my own story and the meaningful work I can do because of it.

When your quest for health effects your mental state or the quality of your relationships (especially with yourself), it's not healthy anymore.  I encourage you to find health and wellness in all areas, which is what I love about Intuitive Eating.  Your body and soul knows what it needs - trust it to lead you to balance.  

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD