Episode 50: Food is More Than a Nutrition Label with Kenzie Osborne
Kenzie Osborne is a mental health blogger, chef, recipe developer, and former NCAA athlete. After battling intensely with anorexia, she was able to find peace with food through cooking, traveling, and learning about the many benefits food has on the mind, spirit, and body.
Kenzie shares her story with us in this episode of Peace Meal. We begin by discussing a label long attached to her—“the healthy and fit one”—and its impact on her identity. A daughter of doctors and sister to high-performing athletes, she felt immense pressure as part of a family defined by health and athletics.
“That’s who [others] knew my family was. That’s who they expected me to be,” she reflects. “And I felt like when I lived up to those expectations, I was accepted and I was praised, and I would get really positive feedback.”
As Kenzie’s “healthy” eating and exercise were validated, her eating disorder grew stronger, and its impact was far-reaching. Terrified and unable to be present around food, she missed out on social events. She faced health complications. Her wellbeing, her athletic performance—her life—suffered. Still, as it often is in a culture that normalizes disordered eating, it was hard to recognize that she had a serious illness.
After a gym teacher expressed concern, Kenzie told her parents she needed help. Immediately, her family lent generous support in ways both traditional and creative. They joined Kenzie at meals—both virtually and in person, for however long they took—and started playing games inspired by shows like Chopped and Guy’s Grocery Games.
“It was so cool because it got my mind away from the nutrition for a second and it put it on the creativity,” she says of her family’s Food Network-inspired nights.
Kenzie took her new interest in food to culinary school, which both challenged and strengthened her eating disorder recovery. Gradually surrendering long-held control in food preparation, she began to see food as more than a nutrition label. She discovered what normal eating looks like—and what it tastes like. She opened her eyes to food’s various cultural, social, and creative elements.
Culinary school, along with traveling, helped Kenzie appreciate food as integral to a full life. In addition to cooking and developing recipes, she celebrates food now by photographing and writing about the life-affirming moments we can share around a meal.
Kenzie’s blog is currently under construction. For now, find her on Instagram at @chefkenzieosborne.
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About the podcast:
Peace Meal is an Emily Program podcast that discusses topics related to eating disorders, body image issues, and how society may contribute to distorted thinking.
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