Ari Snaevarsson graduated from Gettysburg College in December 2017, with a major in Health Sciences and a minor in Religious Studies.
During his time at Gettysburg, Ari wrote nutrition articles as the Features Editor of the Gettysburgian, spearheaded the powerlifting team, and interned at a residential clinic for victims of eating disorders.
Shortly before graduation, Ari began working as a Nutrition Coach at TrueFitness in McLean, VA. A few months later, the opportunity to work at the same eating disorder clinic where he interned arose. Ari accepted and quickly began working both jobs.
Finding inspiration from his work, he decided to pen what would become “100 Days of Food Freedom: A Day-by-Day Journey to Self-Discovery, Freedom from Dieting, and Recovering from your Eating Disorder,” which can be ordered here, followed on Facebook at “100 Days of Food Freedom,” or visited at 100doff.com
After a long process, Ari’s book is finally published. To find out more, I interviewed him.
1.) During your time at Gettysburg, you wrote several articles on various nutritional concepts for the Gettysburgian. Was writing a book always a goal of yours? If so, how did you narrow the scope and choose a topic?
In a weird way, writing a book has always been a goal for me. When I was 6 or 7, I wrote a 30-page book on a fictional series it still cracks me up to think about. In the ensuing 16 years, there were plenty of research papers I found I really enjoyed writing. Ultimately, by August 2017, after I was hired as a nutrition coach, I realized I have the opportunity to use my writing talent to spread a message I deeply believe in. In terms of narrowing down the topic, it started as a book on what I called “mindful fasting” (an idea I’m glad I ditched). It then moved to a comprehensive analysis of whether or not snacking is healthy. Finally, after starting my other job at a residential ED treatment center, I realized this was the book I wanted to write.
2.) How would you classify 100 Days of Food Freedom and who is the intended audience?
“100 Days of Food Freedom” is decidedly NOT a diet. It’s not a system or a program, either. It’s a journey, in the sense that the process isn’t meant to drag you through boring exercises to achieve some externally imposed goal. Rather, the process itself IS the goal. This is ultimately why I opted to call it “100 Days OF Food Freedom” and not “100 Days TO Food Freedom.” The idea is to immerse the reader in this extraordinary paradigm in which you have full permission to eat food without any rules or restrictions.
The book is for anyone worried that their eating is disordered. That could mean skipping dinner every now and then because of body shame, or it could mean binge/purge “marathons” and crippling food anxiety. However, it’s not for anyone of severely low body weight in need of timely medical refeeding.
3.) How does 100 Days of Food Freedom compare to other nutrition literature?
That’s an interesting question. I’ll specifically compare it to other ED recovery books, in which case I’d say the other books are great at explaining the more abstract concepts throughout recovery, but 100 Days of Food Freedom actually holds your hand and takes you through 100 days of self-directed recovery. That way you never have to worry about whether you’re doing things “right,” because you have a clear set of instructions in front of you without any ambiguity.
The book takes you day-by-day through your daily tasks, and each week there is what I call an “Adventure.” This is a way of turning an otherwise impersonal and boring writing exercise into a lived experience. It’s one of the most important parts of the journey, because it emphasizes ACTION but also fun. There are also 9 foundational habits the reader will build over the course of the 100 days, including mindful eating and nightly journaling.
4.) How long did the research and writing processes take? How did you find a publisher?
To answer the second question first, I actually didn’t. This was self-published. I started looking into literary agents and publishing houses, and I started compiling my portfolio and everything else you need, but I eventually realized traditional publishing would’ve prolonged the process unnecessarily. That of course meant all the backend duties were my responsibility, as was marketing the book, but the bright side is that I only had to split my share with Amazon. I also retained complete control of my paperback (I have an exclusivity contract with the Kindle version, as per Kindle Select) by buying an independent ISBN and filing for copyright.
As far as research and writing, I’d say the first two months were purely about building the structure of the 100 days, and then from about May to August, I cranked out the manuscript as fast as I could, which gave me August to October to edit and format. But I have you to thank for some of the early concept and copy editing!
5.) What advice would you give to anyone who may be currently suffering from disordered eating or an eating disorder?
Oh, I love this question. If you’re reading this and you’re worried about your eating habits, ashamed of your body, or feel like you’ve let things spiral out of control, I just want you to know you are enough. I know saying that doesn’t make the pain go away, but I want you to know it.
Right now, you are all you’ll ever need to be. The universe doesn’t need anything more from you. You don’t need to restrict calories today. You don’t need to exercise until you’re in pain. You don’t need to “lose fat” or “get in shape” right now. Stop reading this for one second, take a deep breath and focus on nothing other than that breath, and then slowly exhale. You’re here right now, and everything else is going to be okay.
I’m always available to talk with anyone who needs it. I’ve been in some insanely dark places mentally before, and I know how real it feels, but remember that YOU – and you alone – get to decide how this story goes. I can’t stress this enough: You are enough.
This article was written by Executive Editor Alexa Secrest