Dietary Dissonance

Dietary Dissonance

This isn’t a recipe. I just had a food-related thought, and I thought “well, I have a food blog, I might as well write it down.”

These days it seems like everyone is on some kind of diet for some reason, and yet being on a diet is the most offensive thing people not dieting have ever heard. So people have to resort to blaming their diets on some sort of inescapable illness, or a moral reason. For example: I wasn’t eating sugar to help my friend quit smoking. I was doing it for me. I wanted to stop eating sweets. When I told people I wasn’t eating sugar, I encountered an amazing about of frustration from other people.

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from PETA’s Facebook page

The reactions ranged from things like “well YOU’RE not eating sugar but I’M not on some WEIRD diet so I’M going to eat this cheesecake,” or “ugh, but YOU’RE being weird and not eating sugar,” or being angry that I was somehow compromising my health, or really offended that I would suggest that they stop eating sugar (something I never did).  When I said I was doing it so a friend would stop smoking they were proud of me. But if I wanted to do it for my own health I was disgustingly annoying.

Once our sugar/smoking deal was over, I continued to eat sugar because I had no shining moral, compassionate reason to give people (that, and I missed Nutella). There are many other examples of this—people who are on a diet to look better or give up an unhealthy habit, but have to pretend there’s some inescapable cause behind it. We say things like “I think I might be gluten intolerant,” (aka I’m trying to avoid carbs without people treating me like I’m ruining my life but I have to really focus on that belly ache I get after eating pizza), or “I exercise just to feel good.” Yeah, that’s nice, but it’s probably something to do with feeling good in your skinny jeans too, right? Ultimately it should be about feeling good, but we should also be allowed to say “I’m eating well because I want to look better” without sounding like a shallow crazy person in danger of some terrible mental illness.

Eating to lose weight and to feel better are often the same. Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and not too much of it, and you’ll lose weight, and feel great. It’s wonderful! It’s awesome! It’s the right direction! But let’s not act like this new health food crazy has nothing to do with America’s new fad diet: whole foods.

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Click for the article: ‘Biggest Loser’ Rachel Denies Eating Disorder: ‘I Eat Five Times A Day’

Another issue facing the dieter is, if you do try to lose weight, you have to keep it to yourself lest you be accused of having an eating disorder. Tabloids are full of actresses looking “too fat,” and full of normal actresses being ripped to shreds for having lost weight. Blogs are full of before and after pictures receiving criticism for the after picture looking too good.  “Eating disorder” seems like it’s used as a curse word rather than an actual illness. Losing weight, if you’re over weight, is a good thing.

Yes, society makes us feel like we should be skinny by shoving really thin women in our faces all the time, and we should love what bodies we have, and no one should go on an unhealthy diet. What I mean by this is that if you’re losing weight by eating only splenda packets, then you should probably pick a different diet. But if you’re trying to lose weight by exercising, and eating whole foods…then good for you, right?

Whatever motivation you have (however contrived and shallow), you should be allowed to change something you don’t like about yourself in peace.

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