The Need for Prevention: Kennedy’s Story


We asked our community to tell us why it’s time to better equip adults to help children develop healthy relationships with food and body. Kennedy shared her story.

To whoever is reading this:

I need you to know you are strong, capable, incredible, and wonderfully made.

My name is Kennedy, I’m a 21-year-old woman who goes to St. Catherine University where I study Dietetics and Human Nutrition, with a minor in Psychology. Yep, you read that right, I’m majoring in food with the dream of pursuing an emphasis on eating disorder, so one day, I can make a difference in someone’s life.

My story begins at 13 years old, looking back, what I believe triggered my eating disorder was the loss of my grandfather, the most important, influential person in my life. I struggled with Anorexia Nervosa until I turned 19. I struggled for six years while watching my family members at Weight Watchers, doing Atkins, watching diet shows, taking diet pills and more. I was always the chubby child in elementary school, while all my girlfriends were thin and tall and beautiful, and I stepped on the scale every day. When I turned 18 I went off to college so fearful of the “Freshman-15” I actually lost 20 pounds, and even then, the adults around me told me how great I looked, asked what I was doing, and more.

For the first time in my life, my eyes were opened to how what I was doing was affecting others.

Two months before my 19th birthday, I met the most amazing man and the man I’ll spend the rest of my life with. Suddenly, what I had been doing to myself wasn’t worth it. For the first time in my life, my eyes were opened to how what I was doing was affecting others. He said I was tired, emotional, stressed out, I had headaches, he was terrified when my hair fell out in clumps. He cried for me and with me and for the first time I saw what I was doing was not only affecting me but others around me. Last month I turned 21 and I have been solid and strong for 2 years.

I wish adults had told me:

  • It’s okay not to finish all of your food at the dinner table, you don’t need to be a part of the clean plate club
  • Eat until you’re full, not uncomfortable
  • Sometimes you’re bored, not hungry
  • You gotta nourish to flourish
  • You were made in the likeness of your creator, you are exactly who and what you are supposed to be.
  • STOP watching and comparing, you are not your mother, sister, aunt, best friend, cousin, girl on TV, you are you, and that is more than enough.
  • Teach your children that food is fuel and how we live, survive, play games and sports, laugh, sleep and so much more.
  • Ask your children to cook with you, grocery shop with you, let them experiment with their own “recipes”

Adults DO NOT:

  • Pinch that little girl’s “chubby cheeks”
  • Comment on how much food or how hungry someone is
  • Do not use food as a reward