Blogging About Healthy Living… Is It Healthy?

I have written and re-written this post several times now and I cannot for the life of me figure out how I want it to flow. That journalist in me is always asking “where’s the narrative??” and I just can’t find one today, so please bear with me.

Any frequent and regular readers of food and fitness blogs at this point are probably familiar with this article that appears in the recently released issue of Marie Claire. I encourage you to read it and gather an opinion of your own before I skew you with mine!

Back? Good :)

First and foremost I have to explain why I feel the need to insert my opinion on this. Usually I try to steer clear of any type of posts that may be repeated on similar blogs. But I can’t help it.

The article begins at the Healthy Living Summit.


The same event I went to in Chicago back in August along with 199 other “healthy living bloggers.” The writer of this article was in attendance and for reasons unbeknownst to me, has decided to attack the six women who organized the conference. Six women whose blogs I’ve read (almost) every day for the past two years. Most of whom I’ve met in real life.

I’m not here to scream about how wonderful these women are and how unfair the article is. Even though, for a feature in a national magazine, it’s pretty rotten, subject matter aside.

I do however hope it makes a few people step back.

There are some people out there blogging about unhealthy habits. Sometimes the emotions written about on blogs can trigger negative emotions in others. I hope that anyone with disordered eating or exercise knows well enough not to read those blogs that are unhealthy for them. But we all know that isn’t the truth.

On the other side of things, it’s important to remember that people who take on a “diary” format are only featuring a snippet of their day. 24 hours can not be properly summed up in a neatly packaged blog post. Sometimes more food is consumed, rest days are boring so they’re not blogged about. Troubles at work, family issues, boyfriend drama, are typically kept off for privacy reasons. No one lives a perfect life, even if they seem like they blog about one.

Finally, even “big bloggers” like the six popular ones mentioned in the article still struggle with body and image issues. I am convinced there isn’t a woman out there who doesn’t occasionally scrutinize what she eats, frowns when she looks in the mirror, or wonder what other people are thinking about her body. Such a person just does not exist.

In order to consistently encourage healthy habits, a person would have to be perfectly healthy in every way. Even if you read blogs for inspiration or motivation, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, we’re all striving for the same things.

Also, I reallyreally hope no one has received the wrong impression about my blog. I eat lots, exercise moderately, and am trying my darndest to be as “balanced” as possible. Sometimes I get it wrong, but I like to think I get it right sometimes too ;)

Remember that it’s important not to compare yourself to others! It’s engrained in every one of us to size up our abilities to those around us. But the only person you need to be concerned about is yourself. The only hobbies you need are those you love to do. And goshdarnit, if you are scared of canned pumpkin, then don’t feel like you need to eat it to be “healthy.” (okay, maybe that’s just my problem?)

Listen. I get it. We’re all crazy to be obsessed with food, fitness and good health. I get that there are extremes, and blogging about it is probably one of them. But things could be worse. Take it from the guy who owns this house I recently discovered in my neighbourhood.


*Shudder* Creepy.

Question of the Day: What are your first (or second, third) impressions of the article? Do you think healthy living blogging is actually healthy?

Pssst… if you really want to see a “healthy” post – check out my beer filled Project Foodbuzz submission and vote for it HERE! ;)


Posted on October 4, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. I love this post Susan. I felt the same way when I wrote mine about not getting involved/writing the same post as others but I just had to say something. You can find my post here:

    You really did a good job making some points and giving people something to think about. I always find that your such a good writer and are able to get your points across without hurting others feelings.

    PS: I love your bog. You always show a balance between eating, exercising and having fun :)

  2. This is such a great post. I just read the article today and I was mortified about the comments they had made. While yes, there are many females and even males out there that do have an eating disorder it isn’t everyone or even half of the population. The article just gave food blogging such a bad name, when in reality I have gotten my best recipes and learned so much about even myself and others through blogging.

  3. I don’t have a problem with the author asking important questions about the healthy living blogging community but I do question how she did it and just how obviously slanted the article was. That’s not journalism, that’s an opinion piece.

    As an overweight blogger, I never looked at the popular blogs as something to compare myself against but as something to learn from. I never had a model of portion control or how to handle situations like long car trips (what do you mean BRING your own food?!), seeing what NORMAL, healthy, fit women do in these situations has actually really helped me in my own life. The author of that article didn’t even bother to try and make it a balanced article. I wrote an email to the editor, what else can I do?!

    • Therese, I totally agree with you. I started reading food blogs after a period of restrictive weight loss. I have Kath to thank for teaching me you can still eat a hunk of bread and cheese AND still be happy and healthy :)

  4. Wow I had not read that article but I agree, it seems quite harsh. I actually don’t read the blogs of any of the sponsors except for eat live run, so I can’t speak about those. But as for the blogs I,ve come across, it’s a mixed bag. That’s life though! For me health means something different for everyone, and it is about so much more than what you eat or how you exercise. I think there are some people in the blogging community that don’t get this, but I think there are a TON that do!

  5. fix the link to your foodbuzz blog entry!!! :) right now it leads to the creepy house photo!

  6. i’m also more upset that the answers to the interview questions she asked the six bloggers didn’t even show up at all, but rather just the bits and pieces from their blogs/blog comments.

  7. Awesome post and good points! NO ONE is perfect, not even those six bloggers. I adore all six blogs and read them regularly and I have to admit that sometimes I think to myself, “wow their life seems so perfect”. But I’ve had friends tell me the same thing about my blog so with blogging it’s not all as it appears. Obviously!

    In my opinion, if a blog is sparking someones E.D. or making them uncomfortable then they should stop reading it. End of story.

    While the article made some good points it was definitely badly written and slanted. I kind of feel bad for the journalist that everyone is slamming so hard though, as a freelance writer I know all too well that what I write isn’t always what’s published. I am more angry at the Marie Claire editorial staff than the journalist in question. She may have submitted a very different story to editors who then cut down on the quotes to take them out of context. Who knows!

    • Tooootally agree Amber! As someone who has written and published a lot of articles too, I understand that sometimes the work you submit is vastly different than the one that appears in print. The article in question is also awfully short, so it could have been hacked in the edititng process making everything get taken out of context.

  8. so well written susan! so honest and I loved reading this. Although yes there is some truth to the article, it totally portrayed the big 6 in such a negative light. It makes it seem as though the writer didn’t even “do her homework” and just searched for all of the negatives. It really made me angry!

  9. Ironic that a magazine that generally only features airbrushed skinny girls is taking aim at healthy living no?

  10. Good post.

    I am food and excercise obsessed, but I have to be in order to adopt a healthy lifestyle and get myself to a healthy weight and to keep my rheumatoid arthritis in check.

    Healthy Living blogs are my daily source of inspiration.

  11. First impression of the article was that it was mean spirited, trashy tabloid style of article. My second impression came about more as everyone in the community knee-jerk reacted. Yes the article was awful. But what about the issues about eating disorders and unhealthy obsessions? It’s rarely talked about and it needs to be.

    • Totally, and I would even say that perhaps the article comes as a welcome wake-up call to our cushy healthy living community.

    • Totally, and I would even say that the article comes as a welcome wake-up call to our cushy healthy living community. I’m not sure about the six bloggers in question, but the problems described in the article do exist in the blogosphere.

  12. Wow – your neighbor is awesome. :) And so is this post. It is so true that NO ONE is perfect. Even people we are inspired by struggle and make mistakes and are human, just like we are. At the end of the day we have to take each blog we read with a grain of salt and realize that we’re all just doing the best we can. That is enough – WE are enough.

  13. The article made me really glad it wasn’t me they wrote about. My skin is just not that thick. My first impression was that it seemed a little harsh, although I can see where someone not entrenched in this lifestyle and blog hobby might get those impressions. But reading the bloggers’ posts who posted their questions and answers and seeing what they were told, it does appear that some unethical journalism took place. This “healthy living blog” world is such a small (and weird, if you think about it) group, and to have a national magazine rip that open is pretty hurtful. I feel it, and I consider myself on the periphery of this community.

  14. I totally agree with you, I love health and fitness blogs they give me great ideas for new foods and exercise. My blog is real and I like to think the ones I read are too but I guess I’ll never know : )

  15. I think the point of the article is justified…yes, it can actually be an unhealthy tool. But, to use the people they did and cherry picking what they did to prove that point is my real issue with it. I wish she hadn’t a bad example out of people who have truly developed healthy and sustainable habits!

    • Yes! The article would have been SO much more effective if the author hadn’t personally attacked anyone. It comes off as being catty and detracts from the real issue at hand – that there are “healthy” bloggers out there promoting “unhealthy” behaviour in others.

  16. Great reflection. I agree that things can be taken to the extreme or skewed in how people view them. We have to be mindful of what we present. And as a whole, I think we present a pretty good insight into balanced living.

  17. Susan,

    Ok that guy with the front lawn covered in …is it toys? Gnomes? Creepy but hilarious. I love that you took that picture ;)

    The article – I’m so glad you linked to it, because I’ve not been keeping up to date on all my fave blogs but I too was struck by how mean-spirited it sounded. The author of the article sounded like she was having a good old fashioned hate fest towards the bloggers which to me, did not seem balanced at all. But on the other hand, I’m also impressed at her angle of exploring the unhealthy side to the obessions found on the blogs, if only because of the fact that I too am struggling to let go of my unhealthy ones and yet still embrace what makes me feel good – which includes the way I exercise, eat, and live.

    So, thanks for posting the link to the article, I might have missed it otherwise!


    • Lynda, it’s ALL toys!! That’s actually not my picture, we went to go see the house at night at it was waaaay creepier. The owner of the house came out to say hi!

      And I totally agree with your comment. Yes, the article is a hatefest, but perhaps a second glance at the blogworld is sometimes needed!

  18. I think this is a significant issue. The truth is, I’m sure a number of bloggers have food issues. As would a number of readers. The sort of ‘threshhold’ problems the author in the article identified are, indeed, very likely common in the blog community and I think it is naive to totally deny that reality.

    • Exactly!! You took the words from my mouth. I think that not only bloggers, but every one has SOME issue with food. I see it more and more especially now that I’m working in the fitness industry.

  19. I think people need to take personal responsibility and sometimes just get a grip. If you live your life trying to imitate another blogger, that says way more about you than the blogger in question. I talked a little bit about being a role model a while back and you just can’t be everything to everybody and there will always be someone who thinks what you are doing or how you are acting is wrong.

    Blogs are fabulous for ideas for an individual to take and run with, not be like.

    On the flip side, I do see a fair number of healthy living or weight loss blogs out there that obsess on things that concern me, especially in how they talk about themselves.

    I think the author of this article could have approached the points in a much better way and actually said something thought worthy instead of coming across sounding like a petty brat. Because there are some points she made that really could use some further discussion if done properly.

    • I think the article would have been a lot more effective if the author had chosen not to take aim at specific bloggers. There are a lot better ways to analyze if healthy living bloggers are providing disservice or not. Something that I think is actually worth looking at.

  20. I am probably in the minority, but I don’t go to most of those websites as much as I used to. I suffer from food issues and the frequent photos of every single meal became a negative trigger for me. I also started questioning my progress as a runner when some of the bloggers strived so hard to consistently improve on their PRs. The long runs and light eating on a fair amount of these blogs was a little discourging. But this is how I feel and I do believe that most readers would not share my feelings or have this bother them. Now I don’t think the author was being fair. I think the ladies do a great job encouraging woman to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s up to the readers to decide what information will benefit them in their own personal journey.

    • Amen Margie. I’m always hoping that if something on blogs bothers or triggers something in someone that they’ll just stop reading, rather than continue to let it affect them negatively!

  21. great response to this whole thing. i couldnt agree more.

  22. Great post, I completely agree. For me it almost feels like through attacking them they have attacked us all. At the end of the day its the nature of blogging that we are all real people and this is what is reflected in our blogs, including healthy behaviour and perhaps no so healthy behaviour. But then life is balance and this is what these and most other blogs are demonstrating. I have learned so much from blogs it is unbelievable, it has really changed my life, to see that I can eat real food and stay healthy is amazing :-)

  23. I think this one sentence in the article sums it up: “Sari Shepphird, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist based in West Los Angeles who specializes in eating disorders, can’t diagnose the women via their blogs.”

    The author of the article seems to make the assumption that what bloggers show in their blogs is all they eat, and that they are feeding themselves in an unhealthy manner. She also seems to make the assumption that blog readers are gullible enough to try and mimic a lifestyle that they can’t POSSIBLY adhere to. Sure, maybe some will, but like you I would think that 99.9% of the readers have some common sense. For instance, I would never even entertain the notion of trying to run 22K in my current overweight physical condition … to do so would just be asking for injury. It would be stupid.

    People need to take responsibility for their own actions. I think that, generally speaking, the “healthy living blogs” that I read focus on an active lifestyle and healthy food – which is NOT a bad thing and helps a lot of people. Bloggers can’t be responsible for the people who read their blogs, just like authors can’t be responsible for people who write their books. All you can do is put it out there and hope that people “get” what you’re trying to say.

  24. I found the article to be astoundingly harsh! While I do read a few of those blogs and occassionally roll my eyes at the content I do not think calling them out by name was fair. Also for the most part I think the blogs mentioned represent a healthier lifestyle than that of the average person so I can’t really fault them. I’ve never had real food issues in that I’ve never restricted and while I overindulge I do not binge so I am not really qualified to say whether someone in that situation would find these posts triggering. Not to be insensitive, but I feel if you have food issues then maybe reading a blog devoted to food is something you should avoid…it’s kind of like an alcoholic hanging out in a bar and complaining that drinks were everywhere.

    Another issue is that I am older (32) so I think I’m more settled into myself and therefore not as easily influenced as younger people might be. I’m at a place in life where I know that 15 lbs. gained or lost won’t significantly change my life and that the world will not end if I skip workouts for 2 weeks.

  25. How even keeled you are! I wouldn’t expect anything less from you! :)

    As far as your question….

    1st impression – oh wow! I’m speechless!

    2nd impression – I’m not sure this is fair. She’s chosen out of context quotes to make a point. But yeah there’s no doubt food distruction is wrong. Mind you on the whole it’s still not an even keeled fair article. I’m disappointed.

    3rd impression – Gee, I really hope people take something away from the article. Although, it didn’t go about it in the best place possible maybe we should all take a step back and re-consider our blogging. I hope we all think twice about the messages we put out on our blogs.

    4th impression – Wow. Look at Twitter and Facebook. People are being brutally harsh with Ms. Drummond. I don’t think that helps anything. And while we’re at it, some people are defending the six bloggers (featured in the article) on the basis of blind adulation. That’s not even keeled either.

    And now I’m just kind of glad it’s all starting to blow over! lol ;)

  26. I’ve written and rewritten a post on this article about 5 times already and I’m still not sure whether or not it will see the light of day on my blog haha. But, I definitely agree with everything you had to say, Susan.
    My first impression of this article was complete disdain and sheer disgust for the author and Marie Claire. After I calmed down a bit (hehe) I began looking at it from another perspective.
    To be honest, I found it so unfortunate that the writer in question didn’t take a pro-active approach to the angle she was after. We’ve all seen (not necessarily from the blogs featured in the article) blogs or blog posts that while intentioned to be “healthy” are a bit on the extreme side that could be perceived as harmful to one’s health. And yes, they can be triggers for people suffering from disordered eating/exercising. So, with this in mind, I think the author had raised a good question, but her execution was completely out of line.
    Rather than bash these 6 women and take their quotes out of context where it was potentially damaging to them, it could have been really interesting to have gathered these women, along with the RD quoted in the article, to create a panel. Here, they could have addressed the issue at hand and talked about the pro’s and con’s of the healthy living blog community and it’s impact on readers. I think this could have been an interesting and insightful look at the healthy living blog community all the while tackling the not so light and fluffy questions that are occasionally raised, such as triggers to disordered eating and extremist posts. This way, the issue at hand could have been addressed in a constructive mannerrather than destructive.
    However, that’s not what happened, and thats now how the author of the article decided to approach the topic. Instead, we are now left with a piece of junk for an article that has only been successful in raising negative outside perceptions on our community and caused an uproar inside. It now just makes me sad more than anything else.

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