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Author Virginia Sole-Smith Debunks Some of the Most Harmful Food Myths

Virginia Sole Smith The Eating Instinct BookVirginia Sole-Smith wrote the just-released book The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image and Guilt in America and co-hosts the new podcast Comfort Food, about the joys and meltdowns of feeding a family. Trained as a magazine journalist, Virginia embedded with nutritionists, dietitians, critics, mothers, food obsessives and others to get at why our meals are so often served with a side order of guilt and self-loathing.

Her deep dive wasn’t inspired by idle curiosity. Virginia’s daughter Violet was born with a rare, dire congenital heart condition. She spent the first weeks of life spiraling into heart failure, too weak to nurse. Once the problem was discovered, Violet was subjected to countless emergency procedures, including open-heart surgery at five weeks old. Stemming from her trauma, Violet stopped eating and became dependent on a feeding tube. It took two years for her to learn to eat by mouth again.

Bare Necessities talked with Virginia about body image, hunger, the so-called “clean eating” trend, the specious connection between health, weight and nutrition, and modern diet culture. (Virginia is adamantly anti-diet.) Surprisingly, the takeaways couldn’t be more uplifting.