“No, I can’t, I ate loadddds yesterday”, or “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow to make up for it”, or “I can’t have dessert, I’ve put on loads of weight” etc etc etc… how depressingly frequently and unconsciously these unnecessary words come from our (almost entirely female!) mouths.
‘WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?’ I ask have we been conditioned to view any food which tastes delicious and isn’t a vegetable as ‘bad’? It’s not ‘bad’ – it may well not be nutritious but my taste buds accept them and declare, like God in Genesis, ‘Very Good!’ Why then have we anthropomorphised food and attached these ridiculous judgemental measurements to it? Who declared that food’s sole purpose was to nourish? Again, my taste buds, eyes and nose all disagree…eating is an experience, were it not we would all be subsisting off of gruel a la The Matrix. Now let me plainly say food should nourish; it is not an emotional crutch and addictive foods or dependant relationships with food should be avoided and treated. But that’s not to say that food can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Food is so very much more than the vitamins it contains (or those it doesn’t!); food is creative, artistic, adventurous, comforting, nostalgia-inducing, communal, enjoyable, memory-making and often exciting. I fondly remember the succulent steak I had with my husband last week for our anniversary meal with friends; I also remember the disappointment of the too-creamy tiramisu which fell short of my last memories of perfectly balanced cream, sponge and coffee liqueur. I remember the pleasing crunch of the onions in the Quarter Pounder with Cheese I ordered late one night with friends, harkening back to our College days! As do I recall the flavour of the broccoli sprinkled with garlic-butter we had with sausage and sweet-potato mash yesterday; yum! And I do not feel guilty for any of these ‘indulgences’. I have not committed a ‘crime’ nor a sin so why ever should I? Unless, I’d argue, I am wilfully ignoring Dr’s advice to eat more healthily and am instead taking money from the taxpayer’s purse to pay for my own gluttony, or risking leaving children orphans by sending myself into an early diabetes-induced grave (etccccc), I have no reason to ever feel something as inappropriate and serious as ‘guilt’ about something as beautiful, exciting and inoffensive as food!
Ok, let’s just say for a moment that foods really are, ahem, ‘good vs bad’ (side-note, I am now imagining a hilarious scene of a vegetable and a chocolate bar re-enacting the epic Star-Wars scene where Darth Vader faces Obi Wan Kenobi!)… I wonder why, if this is true, it is we women who have been coerced into internalising this and taken the judgement of our foods personally, making us the ‘bad’ ones for having the nerve to assert our free-will to spend the money we’ve earned on food we like to please our taste buds- shock horror! Could it be anything to do with the food industry’s money-making need to sell us ‘diet’ foods…yep, whereby they have convinced too many intelligent, hard-working, food-enjoying women to pay for more, get less; yep, WE ASK them to cut a big hole out of the delicious pizza we’ve been looking forward to all day, and instead to fill the offensive space with a few leaves of rocket- then we are charged extra for their consideration to our (usually perfect fine) waistlines! Really? Is this common sense? NO, it’s not- it’s insecurity covered in advertising. And why are these half-pizza, half-rocket eating women choosing insecure? Because they’ve been told to be…I’ve never seen a guy friend order the ‘low-cal’ pizza version, or any low-cal anything actually and in honesty, a few of my guy friends could do with changing the pizza/ rocket ratio in their lives! For confirmation we need only look at the parade of diet foods available-all claiming to be as creamy (etc) as the actual cream alternatives, and all advertised by (strangely thin) women… of course, not a man in sight!
So, what am I actually ‘saying’?
I’m saying, let’s stop and re-THINK how we think about food…here’s two questions we could consider:
- Is the food we’re about to eat actually ‘bad’ for us?
(NB: I mean ‘bad’ as opposed to just ‘not very nutritious’ and I mean ‘in moderation’ obviously… I am not advocating a student style entirely carb and fat based diet – I need vegetables to feel like I’ve had a real meal-I just also want to enjoy my dessert!). What I am advocating, however, is that we free ourselves to *enjoy our choices*; that we stop falling for Magnum’s lies and berating ourselves as ‘sinful’ for consuming an ice cream- the only sinful thing about which is the extortionate price!)
- Are we eating it not to satiate our appetite or please our taste buds, but to salve our emotions or because we think we *should* eat that option?
IF the answer to these is a double NO (ok, and if we can afford it without having to forgo electricity or biting our nails with guilt!), then let’s just shut up and eat, and hopefully… enjoy!