Reconnect with food
~by Afsheen Syeda
As a nutritionist, and a foodie, I absolutely love food. And of course, eating.Maybe even slightly more than the next person – yes gasp all you want but I ain’t about the sugarcoating life sis! (Pun not intended).There’s so much about food you (can and rightfully should) enjoy! The occasion, the people, heck – the food itself! Or is that just me? Whether it’s a family night, or going out with friends, the first question to always pop up is where should we eat? The impeccable variety of cuisines at our disposal makes it an even more of an experience! And especially for those of us living away from home, even the warmth and aroma of simple home-cooked meals is something else. I mean, what’s there not to enjoy after all? Right? Wrong. At least for those of us, who have subconsciously succumbed to the diet culture that we don’t even recognize how deep it has seeped into our lives and silently become powerful.
To the dismay of the ears of a nutritionist, and as crazy it may sound to a foodie, I haven’t heard many exciting tones as I’d like to around the act of eating. And when I suggest otherwise, the classic response I get is ‘but you’re a nutritionist!” like how could I utter such a preposterous thing as eating with a free mind after all those years of education and certification?Sometimes people also tend to immediately mentally disqualify me as one on account of me encouraging them to eat.
But no, I don’t despise them for it. It’s sad really how powerful the heavily marketed diet culture is that we have all (subconsciously)succumbed to and allowed it to seep into our lives. And now it has thrived over our fear of food and transformed into an ever looming monster towering over us, growling and threatening when we think of devouring our meals. And when I say diet culture, I don’t just mean restrictive eating. It’s that and goes beyond by attaching a negative connotation to food itself. Building that unnecessary stigma around our food choices so much so that people start apologizing to themselves for eating to their fill.
We all can agree over feeling (maybe even secretly) food-shamed over our choices by not just people and the environment around us, but also by our own selves! Yes, we are doing this to ourselves and my nutritionist heart couldn’t be sadder. I mean we can’t fix or control what others do, but we are in full control of how we feel and what we think. So let’s see what we can do to not let it get to us.
1. Be secure and confident in your skin:
This is where freedom begins. No matter where you go, what you look like, what you do, once you own up to yourself, you are good! You are fine! You are done! And done like a turkey, at that. Because do you know what is truly attractive? Confidence. Standing your ground. Being goofy. Okay I digress a tiny bit but it’s true y’all! Enjoy the food you eat! Please. Eat with those who share your love of food and you’re golden. *hair flip*
I don’t know why girls have to be self-loathing when it comes to eating. No matter what background or culture we come from, the diet culture has been drilled into our heads, and the way it holds us in shackles isjust plain disheartening. What a crippled society we live in. Blaming ourselves for going for a second helping and giving tons of excuses out loud to no one in particular while approaching your *gasp* favorite food. I won’t lie I have done the same thing and it feels awful. I mean with all the food-shaming we tend to do to ourselves, why sweat so much over it even though we know we’re going to eat just as much? It’s like beating yourself down is a recompense for eating that extra serving and now those calories won’t count anymore. Give yourselves a break, ladies! Have you ever, EVER, seen guys do that? And you won’t. Because they own up to their appetite and very rightfully devour their food without putting themselves down every single time they face it. Why not fight the feminist battles where they ought to be fought? And this is not a rant (lol okay maybe just a little). But this is a toxic mentality which if not corrected carries on the rest of your lives, spreads to the girls growing up around you in your family, and inevitably and unfortunately also to those whom you happen to meet over food. You don’t only make yourself a slave to the diet culture but also make the other person reassess and question their stance on eating and it starts spreading forward.
2. Develop a thicker skin:
Not for others, but for your own peace of mind. For those who give you the eye-rolls or talk you down for your food choices, point fingers at you (and I mean figuratively here; hopefully no one actually does. If they do, you know it’s time to run in the opposite direction!), or the chummy holier-than-thou people who are known for their word vomit, just smile and slide. Food or otherwise, you don’t have to hear it.
3. Steer away from negative talk:
You don’t need that kind of hostility in your life girl. Yes, I know people can be blunt and hurtful but don’t apologize for enjoying your food. And by that I mean don’t give out excuses out loud when you step toward a second helping of your favorite food. Don’t express guilt after having it. Don’t try to repent from eating by running that extra mile because you ate that donut at work. And please don’t describe your favorite food as a ‘cheat meal’! It’s food for crying out loud. There are no relationships at stake here.
Why do I say all of this like it’s a big deal? It may seem very normal after all, like the perfect window to fit into those trendy gatherings because a LOT of people do talk like that, but that’s completely unfair to yourself. The way we talk to and about ourselves significantly impacts our mentality. And the more negatively we associate with food, the stronger it sets in our personality, and before you know it you’re staring into the soul of this other girl who loves to eat!
4. Unfollow those “influencers”:
I mean it. I can write a whole other post on this but social media influencers who promote this kind of talk are also part of the problem. They have a lot of power to perpetuate what people think because we consume the information they put out all throughout the day. So of course it starts feeling real! Anyone who makes you feel internally afraid about your diet, go to their page and simply hit unfollow.
Now is this all to say that I am anti-weight loss or anti-dieting? Am I giving you the license to eat two cheeseburgers with a large coke and fries for every meal? Um, no. Am I also giving you the green light to eat your weight and practically everything in sight?Lol no, of course not.What I definitely am preaching to practice is anti-food-shaming and anti-food negativity attitude. It’s one thing to be mindful and conscious of what you’re eating. It’s a whole other thing to be tensed, and anxious around it, constantly badgering yourself down. In fact, it’s imperative that we honor both our hunger cues and cravings (but more on that later). There’s enough stigma in this world around pretty much everything that we do. Let’s start breaking that off from the one thing that (literally!) keeps us going every single day. Please enjoy what you eat in peace and while you try to build that habit, let others enjoy theirs! #foodfreedomgirlfrands!
To quote Dumbledore, “It does not do to dwell on
dreams fear and forget to live eat”
(Harry Potter references for the win! #always #youknowitifyouknowit).