Our relationship with food, as a society, has been royally F’d up. We’re bombarded with what we should be eating and what we shouldn’t be eating, ‘bad’ food, ‘good’ food. Every meal comes with a side of guilt and plagued with worry. Such a normal and much needed natural process is under such scrutiny.
Long gone are the days where we would beg our parents for an ice cream on a hot, hazy summers day. Or the times we would rush home from school to flop in front of the TV with a packet of hula hoops. I yearn for the times when I could enjoy birthday cake without calculating the calories or working out how many miles I’d need to run to burn it all off.
We have been taught that a strong appetite should equal shame, that we should fear certain foods and that if a few extra calories or fat or sugar passes your lips you should do something about it. SHARPISH! Because it’s been so deeply embedded into our minds that fat is the worst thing that can happen to a man or a woman, we do everything within our power to stop it happening.
I think it’s time to stop this madness, enough is really enough and it’s time to enjoy food again. We deserve more than fear and shame, it’s time to beat the guilt and here’s how we should go about it:
1. Get rid of the good and the bad
When I say good food, what comes to mind? Is it full of green leafy veg, colourful fruits and those weird super foods we hear so much about?
Now think of bad foods, do doughnuts, pizzas, chocolates and crisps start coming into focus?
Wonderful, now stop! Get rid of those categories! throw them in the trash! When you refer to food as good or bad, you are in turn defining yourself as good or bad based on what you’re consuming. Let’s clear this up, food is just food. It provides us with energy, nothing more, nothing less. Eating cake does not make you bad, just like chia seeds (what are those anyway) do not make you good. The good and bad rest within your mind, you are the one dictating these feelings, if you are constantly filling yourself with destructive thoughts you will feel continuously worse. So it’s not the food making you feel crap, it’s your mindset. Just take a moment and think, is saying no to that cookie really helping you and making you ‘good’ if it’s impacting on your mental well being?
2. Boycott your diets!
Everything that we have learnt; food guilt, body image issues, self hate has all stemmed from diet culture. That crap is literally everywhere! Turn on the TV, wham! you’ve got weight loss adverts, skinny white models, the image of so called perfection. Then go online to your social media accounts and bam! There you have people pushing ‘skinny teas’ (they don’t work), detox diets (they don’t work) and nutrition supplements (you’ve got the idea). Even when out shopping we’re forced to look at the new fad diets all over the magazines and those super foods that I mentioned earlier are all over the shelves. All of this junk is forced on us, breaking us down and making us feel more and more unworthy, which is exactly how they make their money! Diets are made to fail, you won’t win. The diet industry relies on guilt and sadness, as long as you’re dieting, that guilt won’t go away. So give yourself a break.
3. Intuitive eating
Say hello to freedom everyone!
I’ll be honest, this takes a while, especially if you’ve been within the grips of an eating disorder. But it’s super worth it!
All it involves is getting back to basics, listening to your hunger cues and learning what that means! So working out when you’re hungry, when you’re full and what you’re really craving, then learning that all that stuff is okay, realising food isn’t the enemy and no food is off limits to you! There’s some great intuitive eating books out there so do research and help yourselves.
Now, whats been realised here? We are allowed to eat, we are allowed to stop eating when full, we are allowed to eat without feeling guilty and we are allowed to enjoy food once again! Stop tearing yourself apart, stop listening to friends, family, whoever when they start discussing their diets or ‘how they’ve been super bad’ and ‘won’t be eating for a week to make up for it.’ Stop, breathe and think back to your five year old self, would you deny him or her happiness around food? No? Then what are you waiting for? Go and enjoy all those foods that you’ve been denying yourself due to guilt!
On that note, I’m off for lunch.