Food Is a Form of Self-Care, Not a Moral Issue

This quote/graphic comes from my fellow HAES, Intuitive Eating and Body Positive professionals at Green Mountain at Fox Run.

eating is an issue of self-care

Do you love it!?  I do.  It’s everything.  The really amazing thing about dropping the judgements around food (good vs bad, healthy vs unhealthy, etc) is that you are then in a position to make choices that honor YOU rather than following a list of rules.  When you eat a so-called “bad” food, it follows that you will behave “badly” while the opposite is true of “good” foods.  This all-or-nothing mentality means that you keep vacillating between extremes, completely losing connection from what actually feels effective and wise.  


I encourage you to practice switching your thought processes from being “good” or “bad” with food to how you can best support yourself with food.  Is it leaving you full, satisfied and energized after you eat it?  Or are you preoccupied, obsessed, scared or distrustful?  Are you still hungry or unsatisfied after you eat?  Do you feel deprived or have a lot of cravings?  Are you consistently eating past fullness?  Why?  Start to think about how food effects how you feel rather than what you weigh.  YOU are in charge of food, food is not in charge of you.  Don’t give it more power by overthinking, second-guessing or micromanaging your food selections.  Let food work for you rather than against you.


Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD



Pumpkin Brownies (a case for variety, balance and moderation)

We all know by now how much I believe in creating realistic, sustainable food patterns.  For me that includes having a really flexible approach to food.  I include ALL foods and aim for a lot of variety, balance and moderation.  It’s called living in the grey, as opposed to black and white, and I love to help others take steps to get there too.  It’s a lot happier, more peaceful and far more effective for normalizing eating behaviors (as opposed to the extremes of restriction and chaos).  


That’s a good lead in to the brownies I’m sharing here.  I’m primarly sharing for the reasons stated above.  You should know how much I believe that the pursuit of weight loss causes disordered eating patterns, and I see it all the time.  If you wish to have more self-trust and moderation around food, you’ve gotta give yourself permission to eat.  Restriction breeds rebellion.  

brownie label

The other day I walked into the grocery store and saw pumpkins, which made me think of baking.  So it was kind of serendipity when I saw a new-to-me brownie mix.  It’s got a shorter and more recognizable ingredient list than is usually found on boxed brownies.  I immediately thought about adding pumpkin to replace the butter, to do some (lazy) fall baking.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some butter, but I wondered if it would make them taste like fall!  

I just put the mix in the bowl with 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin, 2 eggs and 2 tbsp water (per package directions).  Baked for 30-35 minutes.  

brownies mixed

A brownie with some almond milk (and sometimes a smear of PB) has been a really lovely after dinner treat.


All this taken together gives me the opportunity to give you a few reminders:


1.  Unconditional permission to eat automatically gives you unconditional permission to stop eating.

2.  Feeling full and satisfied from your meals and snacks is your solution.  Not feeling full and satisfied is what leads to problematic behaviors that are your problem.

3.  Look at the big picture and overall food patterns.  No need to be nitpicky about any one meal, snack, macronutrient, food, food group or food ingredient.  

4.  Your health and wellbeing is not determined by how much you weigh but rather how you feel.  Please take into consideration physical, mental, emotional and spiritual factors.  I can 100% say that I feel better eating sugar – or at least having the permission to do so – than not eating sugar.  This has also been my professional experience as I observe those I work with.

5.  I fully believe that the body craves balance and is always seeking it.  If you are feeling out of balance, please know that moving to the opposite extreme will not rectify that.  

6.  If eating patterns have been extreme, a balanced approach will not happen overnight.  Please seek help and support if you need it.  


In health,

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD

Health Happens on a Continuum – some thoughts about Diabetes (and other health concerns)

Two mornings a week I see patients at an Internal Medicine office.  The majority of patients I see have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.  While each patient is unique in their concerns, frustrations and goals, over the past 2-3 years I have found a lot of commonalities.  I want to share some observations with you.


  1. First and most importantly, I want to be sure to emphasize the fact that health issues do not happen overnight. You don?t not have diabetes (or anything else) one day and then have it the next. Clinical diagnosis comes when numbers hit a certain tipping point, but that doesn?t mean it was less of an issue before. I don?t say this to worry you; I say it to put health and wellness in perspective. Most people can sense their body is overstressed and/or isn?t functioning optimally far before diagnosis happens. Health happens on a continuum so don?t wait for a diagnosis: ?If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won?t have to hear it scream.?
  2. It may take some time for your blood sugar levels to come down. That?s OK. Also, medications are there for a reason but using them doesn?t make diabetes go away and the underlying issues will still be there. What I would want you to know is this: health is determined by healthy behaviors (self-care) so health is something you can have right now. At this moment you can tune into what your body needs, honor it by responding and therefore move towards health. Health is not a destination. It is a commitment to take care of ourselves each day. 
  3. It?s super common for me to hear ?I can?t be an intuitive eater because I have diabetes?. Wrong! Intuitive Eating is absolutely inclusive given it?s all about taking care of YOUR body and it?s health concerns. A little personal disclosure: I have a really sensitive digestive tract, and intuitive eating has been the BEST way for me to keep symptoms at bay and feel my best. Just one example. 
  4. Those with diabetes believe they require a different approach to food than others. While obviously their blood sugar will be effected in part by what they eat, so will everyone?s. Again – health happens on a continuum. We all feel and function better when we have stable blood sugar levels. Eating balanced meals (protein, complex carbohydrate, fat, fruit or vegetable) with snacks in between while listening to hunger/fullness/satisfaction levels to guide how much to eat will be the best way to regulate blood sugar levels. Fullness is your body?s way of letting you know it?s had enough. If you continue eating, you may be over-stressing body functions (digestion, hormone/digestive enzyme production and insulin matching in regards to diabetes). While we all overeat occasionally, consistently doing so can cause issues. I?ve said it before – my experience has been that these issues are caused by not listening to our bodies, not by any one food or food group. 
  5. I find that most people with diabetes fail to realize that food is not the only thing that effects their blood sugar. Sleep, stress (!!!), exercise, mental health concerns, medications, meal timing and patterns, digestion, rate of stomach emptying, etc. The good news is that taking a holistic, big picture approach will allow you to avoid extremes and find balance – where your body functions at it?s best. 
  6. What you are really wanting is to find your rhythm. Diabetes or not. We are cyclical, rhythmic creatures. We have sleep rhythms and digestive rhythms and seasonal cycles and hormone cycles, etc. While we don?t need anything militant or rigid, we would all do well to establish some sort of regular rhythm, which I call a flexible structure. It?s wise to have regular meal, snack and sleep times. I think you?ll be surprised at how much more balanced you feel. This is something I see lacking in most of those I work with. 
  7. Last but not least, you didn?t get diabetes because you gained weight and it won?t necessarily go away if you lose weight. That’s a super simplistic, unhelpful and ineffective view of health. Health is determined by healthy behaviors, not by weight. You would do well to put energy into taking care of yourself rather than aiming for weight loss. If weight loss happens as a result, you can trust that is what your body needed.


Diabetes, or any health concern, can be scary, confusing and frustrating. I hope these observations have been helpful in better understanding diabetes and accompanying beliefs and issues.


Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD

Perspective – What Do We Really Want Most Out Of Life?

How spot on is this:

cultural messages

Isn’t it so sad?  In a world where we can be anything we want to be, why is it that the thing we want the most is to be “beautiful”?  It seems like all other achievements pale in comparison to acheiving the thin ideal.  And in some cases, those achievements aren’t given the respect they deserve because of the appearance of the person.  


Fortunately, changes starts with us.  If we start to give less appearance based compliments and instead support and praise each other in ways that really matter, we can start to change the culture.  If we continue to pretend that life only matters if we look good living it, we will continue to be a slave to the scale, beauty industry and popular culture.  Imagine what would happen if you focused more on living your life and less on what you looked like doing it.  Resist the temptation to believe that your appearance has anything to do with the quality of your life.


Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD

{Quick and Easy Meal} Lazy Chicken Jambalaya

This is a meal that I make at least every other week.  It’s super easy, super flavorful and super satisfying.  I need to point out that I know this is not true, authentic jambalya, which is why it’s called LAZY 🙂  


All of this can be made ahead of time with a rice cooker and slow cooker.  It’s a veggie/chicken mix + rice.  Easy!  Last week when I made this and took pictures, I cooked a whole chicken to use throughout the week.  However, you could most definitely just add chicken to your vegetables and let them all cook in the same slow cooker.  Or pick up a rotisserie chicken!  Put your brown rice in the rice cooker at the same time and come home to a meal that has been cooked for you.

jumbalaya ingredients

Lazy Chicken Jambalaya (serves 4)


1 can diced tomatoes

2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped

1 small stalk celery, chopped 

1/2 tbsp creole seasoning (use more if you like it spicy or 1/4 tbsp if you prefer less heat)

1 pound chicken breasts (or already cooked chicken)

1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice

3 cups chicken broth


Combine tomatoes, peppers celery, seasoning and chicken (if using) in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for 4-8 hours (longer if cooking chicken, although the vegetables would be fine to simmer all day if you need them to).  Put uncooked rice in rice cooker, cover with chicken broth and set to cook (rice will stay warm when it’s finished and can sit until ready to eat).  

crockpot veggies

To assemble: Put rice in bottom of bowl.  Add vegetable mixture with chicken.  Top with nuts or crunchy chow mein noodles (optional – but we love adding cashews or walnuts or the crunchy noodles for texture).  Enjoy!


Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD


{Quick and Easy Meal} Banana Bread Recipe

I had tons of overrripe bananas that needed to be used so we made chocolate chip banana bread this weekend.  I used my own recipe  – (see that HERE – just made a loaf instead of muffins because it seemed easier, haha) but had to modify for what I had on hand (and wanted to use up):

bens lunch

Instead of 2 1/2 cups of oat flour, I used 1 cup of whole oats, 1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour and added 1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa.  Also used 6 bananas instead of 5.  


Ended up being a little more chewy and hearty than usual (recipe is at the link above is more moist and soft) and we LOVED it!  I’ve been cutting thick slices for lunches this week.  You can make the recipe as is or use this substitutions to make it a bit heartier – hope you love it too!


Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD

Let Food just be Food

While this is easier said than done, it’s also really freeing…

let your food be food

As scary as it is, it’s essential.  The way you behave around food is due to your beliefs about the food.  If you believe food to be good or bad, you’ll behave that way around it.  If you wish to make peace with food and overcome dysfunctional habits around it, it’s super important to see food as just that…FOOD.  Not something that will heal you or kill you, make you good or bad or something that is good or bad.


I know that sounds really counterintuitive.  It’s easy to assume that lack of control needs more control.  But restriction breeds rebellion and as soon as you quit restricting, you’ll quit rebelling.  You’ll also give yourself a fighting chance to find some sort of balance for how to best fuel your body and your mind – no perfection, no all-or-nothing, just eating for the intent to feel satisfied and energized.  


So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to practice letting food just be food.  I would love to hear where that takes you.


Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD



Serves 6- 8oz

½ yellow bell pepper

½ red bell pepper

½ green bell pepper

½  cucumber

½ zucchini

½ yellow squash

3 roma tomatoes

½ jalapeno pepper

½ cup minced cilantro

3 cup V-8 juice

1 T. lemon juice

¼ t. paprika

½ t garlic powder

½ t. salt & pepper


Finely dice all vegetables and combine with remaining ingredients. Place in fridge to chill at least 1 hour.


Calories 55 Protein 2g Carbohydrates 11g Sodium 216mg Fiber 3g

Glycemic Index

We get A LOT of questions each week about the glycemic index. For those who are unfamiliar, the GI is theorized to be a measurement of how fast or slow foods cause increases in blood glucose levels. I say theory because it?s not without it?s limitations. For example, quinoa has a higher GI than ice cream and watermelon is higher than a Snicker?s bar. The reason for that is the protein and fat decreases the absorption of glucose, but I don?t think any of us would argue that ice cream or Snicker?s are more nutritious choices than whole grains or fruit. Right!?


In other words, I don?t feel it?s an accurate measurement of overall healthful eating patterns. It?s just one more way to develop tunnel vision and narrow minded judgment about food. We do know that high fiber starches, grains and fruit will decrease the rate of glucose absorption. You can think of fiber as a leaky faucet – it gradually drips glucose into the blood stream. On the other hand, if I take the fiber out of a food (refined grains and starches, high sugar products, etc), it?s like turning the faucet on full blast.


We also know that combining high fiber carbohydrates with protein and fat decreases overall glucose absorption which leads to sustainable energy. I have encouraged you many times (your probably getting sick of hearing it!) to build balanced plates. Those balanced meals should get you about 3-4 hours of satisfaction before you start feeling gentle hunger, at which time you?ll want a snack or another meal. THAT is the best way to regulate blood sugar levels.

yogurt bowl

If you have a piece of fruit for a snack by itself, it?s likely you?ll be hungry an hour (or less) later. If you were to pair that apple with cheese, you may get more mileage out of it. That?s not to say that the apple is unhealthy or causing blood sugar fluctuations. It?s a smaller snack, with less protein and fat, so it won’t last as long resulting in blood sugar falling sooner (and you feeling hunger – which is what happens when your blood sugar comes down). Research shows that people who eat more fruit are less likely to get diabetes and people with diabetes who eat more fruit have better blood glucose control. There really is no evidenced based reason to cut back or eliminate fruit, even for those with diabetes.


Now if you find that certain starches or fruits aggravate your blood sugar (speaking directly to Type 2 Diabetics here), then feel free to choose alternative starches and fruits. I fully support your own individual experiences with food.  For example, my mother has diabetes and finds that rice (even brown rice) causes spikes in blood sugar. However, I have worked with MANY patients who do not find brown rice to be a problem. Aim to become familiar with how YOUR body reacts.  


Finally, I talk about Blue Zones quite a bit. I am fascinated by them!  I think you’ll enjoy learning more about them too, as they hold the secrets to longevity and wellness. These are populations who live to 100, who do not develop the chronic illnesses we do (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc) and enjoy amazing health. They do not track their calories or their carbs, but they do live the principles I teach at the Resort.  Which is why I teach it – you deserve the best and most accurate recommendations!  At least 75% of their diet comes from whole grains, fruits, beans and vegetables – all very high carbohydrate choices. In fact, the blue zone in Japan was reported at one time to eat 70-80% of their calories from carbohydrates. And they don?t get diabetes. Clearly we are making nutrition way too complicated. In the words of Michael Pollan – ?Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.? That?s the message.


So I stand behind what I teach at Movara – the principles of Nutrient Density vs Calorie Density, building balanced plates and developing a big picture approach to food. I feel this is a much better approach to building healthful meals and snacks than the Glycemic Index.

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD

Loving Lately

I have so many new favorite things and I thought it would be fun to share!


First, this new lunch bag:

Lunch bag

We were back to school shopping a few weekends ago and 3 out of 4 of us needed new lunch boxes. Last year I typically only worked while my youngest was in morning kindergarten and then I would swing by the school to pick him up just in time to head home for lunch. In other words, I rarely had to pack a lunch. But this year he?s in 1st grade and gone all day, which means I am booking clients and classes later. I?m loving this new lunch bag! It?s insulated, roomy (or lunch and snacks) and there is a pocket in front for my keys and phone. 

Then, check out these cute Ello glasses. My husband won them at a meeting a few weeks ago. I love the colors, I love that they are glass but reinforced with rubber so I don?t worry about my kids drinking out of them. I just think they are so fun!


Also, like the rest of the world, I am loving the Olympics. In particular, I?m really loving the conversation that?s happening about media coverage of women vs men. I also love Simone Biles response:

simone biles

?Nailed it. That?s the kind of attitude that wins GOLD.

I?m also loving English muffins. I don?t buy them often, for no good reason, but then we stayed with friends a few weeks ago and I ate all of theirs 🙂 Then I got home and bought me some. I also love not choosing between sweet or savory toast – it?s like breakfast and then breakfast dessert.

English Muffins
Finally, THIS:

beauty redefined

It?s everything.


What are you loving lately? We would love to hear!


Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD