Warning: I may rant in this post.
Today I’d like to talk about food stigma. Good foods. Bad foods. Healthy foods. Junk foods. Clean foods. Blah blah blah blather.
Do you stigmatize your food? Do you carry with you a mental list of what is good and bad to eat?
How does it make you feel when you eat something from the “bad food” category? I’m sure your answer is a bit like mine used to be, “fantastic, elated, excited, until I realize what I have done and then feel badly about it.” Why is that?
Because of food stigma.
Why do we have to stigmatize our foods? When foods are categorically stigmatized we give them more power over us than they deserve. Eating a slice of chocolate cake should neither ruin your day nor make your day because it’s just food.
Food is here to nourish us, to give us energy, even to heal us. We unnecessarily assign these extra roles to food, giving it the power to fill our empty moments, to pick us up when we feel bad, to love us back and even to emotionally wound us. Food did not ask for this role. We just heaped it on. Why?
Because we need a scapegoat.
Because we don’t want to look the real problems in the face.
Because we’re afraid to be honest.
“What are the actual problems?” you may ask.
The first problem is this: we don’t love, respect, and trust ourselves enough to simply let food be food. We have to make up these rules so that we don’t have to listen to our bodies and our instincts, and simply eat what we need, when we need it. Sometimes our intuition tells us we need a slice of cake, dammit, and that’s just fine. Eat the cake now, enjoy it, and avoid the binge later.
The second problem is this: we sometimes use food as a way to elevate our status. Here I’m talking about the whole deal around how we have assigned value to certain foods. “These vegetables aren’t worth eating unless they’re organic.” “I can’t eat pineapples because they aren’t local.” “I gave up gluten because it’s not clean.” F*** your “clean” food movement. I washed my hands before preparing this cake and nothing fell on the floor. It can rightfully be classified as clean too! Giving status to food is just another way to falsely elevate ourselves above others. Making ourselves feel big by making others small. This is simply sh*tty behavior. What’s on your plate does not make you a better person, though it can help to make you a happier or healthier one.
When we learn that there is no such thing as a bad food (aside from trans fats, because I’m talking about food, not food approximations coming from a laboratory), we can allow ourselves to view all foods as neutral. Removing the stigmas and taking away the taboos allows us to treat food as what it is: fuel. Neutralizing food is the only way we can stop beating ourselves up for eating this or that (which only leads to binging and disordered eating) and go back to the beauty and simplicity of intuitive eating: feeding our bodies what they truly want and need.
Need help de-stigmatizing or healing your relationship to food? Click here to schedule a free Breakthrough Session where we can start you on your way.