Our culture has a pretty messed-up attitude toward food. That’s not really up for debate, as the evidence is everywhere. Diet culture is rampant, and many culturally-acceptable things that get said about eating, not eating, exercising, weight, and so forth, are downright disordered.
People make a lot of unacceptable comments about food — there’s moralizing, judging, unsolicited “advice,” and so on. I’m not here for any of that, so I’ve come up with a list of things I will not say about food.
- I won’t call food “good” or “bad.” I mean, I might give my opinion on how it tastes to me, but I’ll never use those terms to describe it on a moralistic level.
- I won’t call myself or anyone else “good” or “bad” based on what they eat. Food is nonmoral, full stop.
- I won’t talk about whether I or anyone else “should” be eating something. Unless you have a known allergy and there’s an ingredient in there that could make you sick or kill you — in that case, I’ll step in. Same if you’re vegetarian or vegan and there’s a non-obvious meat/dairy/egg product in it.
- I won’t look down on fast food. We’ve all gotta eat, and sometimes we’re short on time or money. And sometimes we just WANT the fries and Frosty. No shame in any of it.
- I won’t treat eating like a transaction. You’ll never hear me say you have to “work off” a meal, or that you can eat something because you “earned” it through exercise. The only transaction there should be during a meal is paying for it.
- I won’t make a show out of why I am or am not eating something. If someone wants to eat something, great, if not, also great. The reason doesn’t really matter. The only exception is if someone making the meal knows you have an allergy or need (like vegetarianism) and deliberately doesn’t accommodate it; that’s just rude and you should speak up. But most of the time, a simple “no thanks” is plenty when you’re avoiding something.
- I won’t talk about calorie counts, “points,” fat grams, or any other dieters’ statistics. No one cares. If you’re keeping track of those things for any reason, do so privately. Because of my Meniere’s, I keep an eye on sodium, but I don’t talk about it.
- I won’t stop you from eating for joy — or any other reason.
I know we’re all living in a culture that promotes some seriously screwed-up thinking about food. It’s easy to get sucked into it. Believe me, I’ve been there. What you decide to do with your own body and your decisions about how you fuel it are your business, so if you want to take part in diet culture, I can’t stop you. But keep it to yourself. You never know who is struggling with an eating disorder and could be triggered by that kind of talk. Even if that’s not the case, frankly, it’s boring. There are much more interesting things to talk about. Even within the topic of food, it’s much more fun to discuss a yummy recipe or hear about the amazing dessert you had last week than it is to hear about how many calories are in a spoonful of glazed carrots. So let’s keep the food talk to something enjoyable and non-judgmental.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out. NEDA has resources. Contact the Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 for support, resources and treatment options for yourself or a loved one.