I confess that I subscribed to Julie Duffy Dillon’s “Love, Food” podcast months before I started listening to it. I heard it was fabulous, and based on that trust I used the magical little podcast app on my iPhone to start downloading it. But actually listening stayed on the back burner until I heard Julie speak on “The Hidden Faces of Eating Disorders” at the annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Boston last October (I referenced that talk, and Julie’s podcast, in a recent article in The Seattle Times).
Since then, “Love, Food” has been a frequent companion when commuting home on the train and when cooking or otherwise puttering around in the kitchen. The kitchen part feels especially appropriate, because Julie’s mission is to help people cultivate a better relationship with food. The work she does is so important, especially in an age where on the one hand you have a food environment that encourages overconsumption at every turn, and on the other hand you have a multi-billion dollar dieting industry and public health messages declaring a “war on obesity.” Is it any wonder that so many food relationships are fractured?
When I emailed Julie, who I had never met, to let her know that I quoted her in the article, it occurred to me to ask her if she would be up for doing a Q&A. She graciously accepted, and without further ado:
Q. What made you decide to start your podcast? Was there a single catalyzing moment, or was it a slow burn of an idea?
A. This was a slow burn of an idea for me. I first thought of starting a podcast in 2006/2007 when I first started enjoying them. But, I started a family instead so it went on the back burner. Fast forward to 2015, I wanted to try something new in my work and reach more people so I visited it again and this time, the time was right.
Q. How did you decide on your unique format of using love letters from food?
A. I first thought of Food writing a letter to the audience at the end of each episode….sort of like a “hack” at the end to summarize the key points and take away into experimenting in the listeners life. Then, I decided I liked the name “Love Food” as the title which then after a few head scratches led me to “Why don’t I have listeners write to Food too??” I really wanted to make more than an interview show and give listeners exactly what they need. I have known the best way to know what my clients need is to ask and listen…so this was my podcast version of that!
Q: Who is your podcast for? Who would benefit from listening to you?
A. My podcast is for the woman who has hit diet rock bottom. She has been on diets her whole life yet feels shame for never “succeeding” at them. She feels she takes up too much space and hopeless about what to do next. Honestly, anyone who has a complicated relationship with food or body can benefit from listening!
Q. What do you find rewarding about helping individuals (both listeners and clients) form better relationships with food?
A. My favorite moments, that bring tears to eyes and chills to my core, are when clients start to trust themselves again. I love when they tell me they feel hope for the first time in their way of eating without diets.
Q. In your podcast, you periodically bring up the idea that we have a national eating disorder. Can you elaborate on that concept?
A. It is hard for someone to heal their relationship with food when our world has yet to address its own. Our world believes food either kills us or cures us and is invested in this black and white way of experiencing food and bodies. Not only is this inaccurate science it is literally keeping us from health and connections. Helping clients recover is only the first step: we have to help change society and culture so their recovery stays secure.
Q. If you could wave a magic wand and change our collective relationship with food, what would that relationship look like?
A. Food would be a great connector culturally and in families. It would also nourish and energize us. But, it would not take up as much energy. We would rely on our own innate wisdom to know how much and what to eat…there would be no need for calorie amounts of menu charts or the diet industry. When one was affected by a disease that required nutrition changes it would be much simpler because of their foundation for consistent food security.
Q. Anything else you would like people to know about you, food, eating, your podcast…anything, anything at all?
A. I think Food Peace is possible for everyone. No matter how complicated, everyone has the right to feel comfortable in her skin and at peace with food.
Julie Duffy Dillon, MS, RDN, LDN, NCC, CEDRD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and national certified counselor who specializes in eating disorders. She is the founder of Birdhouse Nutrition Therapy in Greensboro, NC. Her website is www.juliedillonrd.com.