For a number of reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about food shame lately.
I am a person who loves to eat, and who eats what I love. I would be thrilled if it were that simple, but over time, it’s become something much more than that. I wish I could live whole-heartedly by this mindful and intuitive eating philosophy, but I feel pulled in so many directions. Here are the food-shaming sources that I’ve been really sensitive to lately:
- The “sugar is the devil” message. Has anyone else noticed how diets seem to centre around some sort of “moving target?” First it was fat, then carbs, and now sugar. Having a donut, a cinnamon bun or a piece of cake is now considered naughty. While I aim to be mindful of how much sugar I intake (though I am a total sweet tooth) it can be very dangerous to vilify any food so much that it feels like we should honour restriction and will power over mindful self-care.
- The willpower and self-control focus of eating. I find weight-loss shows can give really contradictory and confusing messages about this, and the diet industry can be to blame for this message as well. I get the sense that if (and when) I gain a lot of weight, people see it as a failure of my willpower, and I can imagine that lots of other people feel this way about themselves. The fact of the matter is that there is so much more at play behind weight loss/gain beyond self-control and willpower. Food intolerances, digestive issues, hormones, mood/emotions, physical injury, etc. are all sources of weight loss and gain. When I lose or gain weight, there are all sorts of reasons for it, just as I’m sure there are for you.
- The people we know. I swear, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to know any one from any background (gender identity, SES, family status, etc.) that does not have some sort of hang-up with food. Of course, there is an extreme end of this spectrum (e.g., disordered eating), but even before that point, we all have mixed up messages about what we should put in our bodies and how we might look as a result. I’ve come across so many people who compare themselves to others (I don’t escape blame on this either) and who (typically unintentionally) make comments that are triggering for me and for others. I ask that if (and when!) I do this on the blog, that you don’t hesitate to let me know. We all have our hellish histories with food, but I don’t want mine to make your present relationships with food any more difficult or unsafe.
What I wish for my readers and myself is the same thing: that we can all eat in a way that nourishes our being, without fear of judgment, reproach or shame. I hope that we can give ourselves what we need, that we can eat what we love and love what we eat.