Tuesday, May 28, 2013

on a relationship with food

Sinful.  Divine.  Guilt-inducing.  Orgasmic.  Evil.  Blissful.  Shameful.  Indulgent.

Ragen recently pointed out that Trader Joe's is now offering 'reduced guilt' crackers.  Now, I'm not saying I don't get it; like everyone I'm acclimated to the societal encouragement and pressure to feel Super Duper Strongly about food.  I'm female, so there's this whole nearly-religious expected relationship with chocolate.  I'm supposed to feel repentant and guilty for eating something greasy/starchy/salty/sugary/whatever kind of food is being demonized right now.  People around me frequently describe something they're eating as sinfully delicious, but So Bad For Me!  I ask them why, and usually get a blank stare.  They expect me to go along with the social norm of hating on food while paradoxically loving on it, and when I don't I'm sure it's confusing.

It's complicated and it's high-pressure and I don't like it.  

It's not that I don't get the joke or the reference.  Presumably these crackers have less salt or oil or more whole grain or something.  Whatever.  The problem is that it's projecting this emotional value judgement onto a damn cracker.

I like food.  Food gives my body the nutrients it needs to do awesome things like walk around and breathe and dance and feel really good in a hot bath.  It gets me around and it's how I'm typing these words right now.  My body is a pretty neat contraption.  And I do get enjoyment from food!  I adore good home-cooked meals, and have a rather disproportionate love for pickled beets.  When Husband and I have date nights, it usually involves good restaurants or tasty food cooked outside when camping.

So I do have a relationship with food.  I just don't like it being (a) defined by marketing companies, and (b) having an assumed love-hate relationship by everyone around me.  For one thing, advertising people have an express mission to make me feel unhappy in order to extort me for money.  I wholeheartedly resist that paradigm, so damned if I'm going to buy that one.  Then there's this cultural expectation that my relationship with food must be this emotionally fraught rollercoaster, and I choose to opt out of that one too.  It is not your job to tell me what to eat, nor to corner me into condoning your value judgements about or fetishizing of your own eating.  I am simply an organism who needs to eat in order to function, and who additionally enjoys preparing and consuming a variety of tasty kinds of food.

Now.  This is not to say that all food is good at all times.  Sometimes I eat too much and then feel icky and hurty.  Sometimes I just want something light like a salad.  I do have a habit of researching nutrition, and feel ways about the fakeness of a lot of additives and not-foods that corporations are putting into mass-produced foods these days, though all food does have value.


I categorically refuse to buy into the idea that food is exalted or evil, repugnant or indulgent.  I'm in charge of my health, and you can take your value judgements elsewhere.  If I skip dinner and have ice cream, it's not indulgent and it's not sinful.  It's a grown damn woman eating ice cream.  And there's nothing wrong with that.


Edit: this post doesn't even touch on the potentially triggery nature of value-judgement food-talk on people who might have issues with eating disorders and/or the diet industry.  That's a whole enormous additional can of worms, and I acknowledge that I have a certain amount of thin and able privilege going on here, and do not mean to minimize any of the additional issues related to this topic.  

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