Annually, Elise Loehnen’s parents would weigh themselves in a vigilant effort to stay within five to ten pounds of their marriage weight. When Elise went away to boarding school, this culture further normalized eating vigilance and restriction as necessary.
Then in her early career at Lucky Magazine, where she was often photographed, restricting her food in attempts to be a sample size at 5 ‘10 seemed like the obvious choice to stay on the path of acceptance and “goodness”.
Then came a stint as goop’s content manager where she was immersed in the wellness industry and its gospel of “clean eating”, today’s socially acceptable term for restriction.
And now, in her instant New York Times’ best seller book, On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good (Dial Press/PRH), Elise brilliantly connects how the sin of gluttony – not science – forms a tapestry of misguided restriction norms that have serious consequences for our food, bodies, and health.
In our interview today, we dive deep into Elise’s Gluttony chapter to discuss:
- The meta-physical invitation in Elise’s breathlessness
- The placebo and nocebo influence of the BMI, exercise that counts, and thinking about your weight
- The difference between hunger instincts and intuition to more clearly hear your appetite
- How the cultural “good” body story creates blindspots and accompanying health risks no matter what your body size (and how to think differently to see these blindspots)
- What’s up with wanting to look disciplined yet effortless with your food and physique? (asking for myself after not effortlessly losing my pregnancy weight)?
About Elise Loehnen
Elise Loehnen is a writer, editor, and podcast host who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Rob, and their two sons, Max and Sam. She is the host of Pulling the Thread, a podcast focused on pulling apart the stories we tell about who we are—and then putting those threads back together.
She’s also the author of the instant New York Times bestseller On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good (Dial Press/PRH). The book weaves together history, memoir, and cultural criticism to explore the ways patriarchy lands in the bodies of women and embeds itself in our consciousness—and what we then police in ourselves and in each other.
Regardless of our religious provenance, the self-denial implicit in each of the Seven Deadly Sins—Sloth, Envy, Pride, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Anger—reads like a checklist of what it means to be a “good” woman. With awareness, we can begin to recognize these patterns of self-restriction, break the story, and move ourselves and each other toward freedom and balance.