Food Psych #83: The Truth About Elimination Diets and Orthorexia with Emily Fonnesbeck

Emily Fonnesbeck - Anti-Diet Dietitian

Body-positive dietitian Emily Fonnesbeck shares how her family helped her develop a healthy relationship with food in childhood, why that went awry and led her down the path to orthorexia, how she overcame her disordered eating and discovered Health at Every Size, why she thinks elimination diets and food-sensitivity testing are dangerous for most people, and lots more.

Emily Fonnesbeck is a Registered Dietitian and owns her own private practice in southern Utah. Her nutrition passion consists of helping individuals free themselves from diets, food anxiety, poor body image and obsessive exercise. She has a non-diet, weight-neutral, client-centered approach to help people make peace with food and their bodies. Find her online at


We Discuss:

  • The increase in oppressive diet culture, healthism, and orthorexic tendencies that are bound to crop up over the next few holiday months

  • Emily’s relationship to food growing up, including a positive and non-restrictive home environment

  • The ways in which Emily’s post-pregnancy experience and introduction to the world of motherhood impacted her body image and led her to excessive exercise and food restriction

  • The ways in which huge life changes stress the body, and how taking control of our eating is a way in which we try to cope

  • How Emily entered the nutrition field, and the ways in which a nutrition education can often feed into orthorexic behaviors

  • Emily’s physical repercussions of undereating and overexercising, which at the time seemed to indicate a failure to adhere to the perfection of “clean” eating, but was really her body giving her warning signs that something was wrong

  • Emily’s experience with the LEAP Program (a program that promotes elimination diets based off of food sensitivity testing), becoming a LEAP Certified Nutritionist, and the ways in which her involvement in that program encouraged her orthorexic behavior

  • Emily’s experience with orthorexia, and how it became an obsessive condition that felt out of her control

  • How often becoming a dietitian is sparked by diet culture and a desire to fix oneself, and as a result when many nutritionists begin practicing they perpetuate disordered eating

  • The ways in which Emily’s orthorexia impacted her relationship with her family, especially her husband’s role in her eating disorder recovery

  • Emily’s experience with therapy and recovery, which helped her tackle her perfectionism and anxiety, taught her how to set boundaries, and asserted that she was enough just as she was

  • The book Intuitive Eating, how instrumental it was in Emily’s recovery, and how it led her to HAES

  • Emily’s time working at a weight loss resort, and how it impacted her own journey as a dietitian and eventual transition to a weight-neutral approach

  • The important process of owning your story and all parts of your journey, including the ugly parts

  • The power of community and surrounding yourself with people who get HAES, body positivity, and anti-diet, weight neutral eating disorder recovery

  • How intuitive eating impacts every part of our lives and supports self-care and self-growth

  • Emily’s integration of HAES into her practice, and the challenge of reassuring clients who are stuck in the diet mentality that HAES and intuitive eating works

  • The importance of removing cultural diet triggers and creating an environment that is conducive to achieving peace with food


Resources Mentioned

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