I am going to start this post off by saying I honestly and truly respect everyone and their food choices. This post is not meant to shame anyone for the way that they choose to eat, or their views on what types of food are good for their bodies. That would completely defeat the purpose.
I will start off by sharing a memory. Back when my daughter was younger (I think likely around 2), I was at a library group with a bunch of other moms and their children. They were discussing food options for their kids—which any mother knows is a really important issue because toddlers are SO PICKY. They were all discussing how they feed their kids gluten-free, grain-free, organic, etc. They were talking about how their kids love seaweed and how they don't like anything processed. (Really? Your one year old knows the difference?) The conversation then—not surprisingly—turned to weight. A very normal conversation among women after giving birth (never mind after birth, all the time). They discussed how much weight they gained during their pregnancies, their pre-baby weights, and their weights now. I was fairly quiet during the conversation as I tend to be (future blog post, I'm sure) But then I got called out. Someone made a comment about my weight and then made a comment about my child eating a "Dipps" granola bar (gasp!) I very calmly replied that I let my daughter eat what she likes because she is extremely picky. I would rather her eat something then nothing. I then explained to them that I did not know my weight. I then had to explain that I did not weigh myself before, during, or after my pregnancy. I very bluntly told them I struggled with Anorexia for a long time and therefore look at this stuff a bit differently. Everyone in the room stopped talking.
I don't think they stopped talking because I didn't know how much weight I gained, I think they stopped talking because the word Anorexia scared them. It usually does, it shuts people up pretty fast :) They didn't know how to respond to that because my "views" (albeit they only got a very small snapshot of them) were not common conversation. You walk around EVERYWHERE it seems and people are talking about the "right" way to eat. How you shouldn't eat this because it is inhumane, that grains will make you stupid, and heaven forbid you let your children touch sugar because they will undoubtably end up with behavioural problems and a dropout.
I am biased. I realize that because of my line of work, my specialization as a therapist in Eating Disorder treatment does make me think about food a different way. I do however think that more people should try and think about food a little less intensely. I am not going to get into a debate right now about the "research" into processed foods, grains, organic food, paleo, etc. I understand that all of these ways of life have benefits. I can see that. My goal right now is to give some validation, some comfort to those of us who are not choosing to live a lifestyle based on restriction.
Personally, my situation is different. I honestly feel that because of my history, choosing to eat in a very restrictive way would likely mess my brain up. I choose to eat healthy. I try my very best to eat vegetables and fruit and get a balance of protein, grains, and essential fats. Because of my busy lifestyle and having kids, it would not be uncommon for me to have a day where all of my meals consist of grains and I don't get any fruit or veggies because I have not had time to cook properly. This is me and I am still living.
I want you to know that just because you are eating in a way that does not align with what you see online, the latest Instagram feed, what you hear about at your yoga class or gym, or—heaven forbid—you have lunch with a bunch of people who are on the latest 30 day diet... you can be perfectly healthy. You are not going to die of any crazy illnesses, your weight can stay balanced, and you have the added bonus of being able to go out for dinner somewhere and actually order off of the menu.
Lastly, I want you to remember that food is not a measure of worth. You are not a better person because you have been "good" by sticking to your diet plan for the day. You are not "bad" because you let yourself have 3 pieces of cake after dinner. You are not a better mother, athlete, father, doctor, or student because you are eating only organic, wheat-free, dairy-free, and low-fat options. "You are what you eat"—that is the phrase, right? I get it. I myself am scientifically minded. I understand completely how important nutrition is for our physical and psychological health. I think the problem lies mainly in that what we choose to eat is based on what is right for us. Not what is right for the masses, or the latest money-making diet. What we eat is based on tradition, culture, biology, and circumstance. I believe our culture has created a class system where individuals who are not eating the latest health craze are seen to be less. They are made to feel weak, lazy, or irresponsible. I want you to know that is crazy and you are better than that. Look critically at the messages around you and remember life is short.
Food is a HUGE part of our lives, but can we please take it a bit less seriously?
Thanks for listening,