tw: discussion of eating disorders
Molly Gorman breaks down the food shaming effects of “clean eating” and explains why we should all just eat what we love.
Ruby Tandoh and her book ‘Eat What You Love’ epitomises all of my beliefs about food. Tandoh, a previous eating disorder sufferer, has learnt that with self-care and a lot of time, viewing food as a detrimental and harmful substance does nothing for personal well-being. Orthorexia in simple terms, is an obsessive desire to pursue a healthy diet all of the time, with no room for flexibility. Food-fads like the milkshake diets, Deliciously Ella’s ‘sugar-free’ or completely raw cuisine and Kayla Itsines’ famous ‘before and after’ showcase on social media are all symbolic of the power that food and exercise hold to inflict guilt upon us all.
My mum tells me that I must get used to hearing conversations about food because it is an important part of our lives. People think, talk and feel food: that is a matter of fact. Although, I still find it hard listening to girls who complain that the chocolate they just ate has the power to make them put on weight instantly. I still find it hard to hear people describe some foods as ‘good’ and others as ‘bad’; these labels suggest that we should feel guilty when it comes to eating. I remember crying when I ate foods, like normal white pasta, that I perceived to be bad. They did nothing but gave my body the energy it needed, however I drained myself mentally and emotionally.
People forget that food is to be appreciated: food is fuel, food is nourishment and eating delicious food can improve your overall attitude to life. Many do love to eat the stereotypically ‘healthy’ foods and that is perfectly okay; it is your body and you can eat what you want. However, making people feel guilty for not eating similar foods can be upsetting for others. A lot of young people find comfort in talking about how little they have eaten, what they have eaten and how frequently they exercise. Understandably it may well be that this is a sign of insecurity but in doing this they may be inflicting harm on others around them.
It is easy to influence a person’s beliefs. If someone exclaims that they haven’t eaten all day, it may immediately impose a sense of shame upon the person to whom they are talking. It can be seen as glorifying starvation in one simple sentence. I guess that my mum is right in the sense that comments like those should be ignored because you are your own person. Therefore, it is imperative to not let the eating habits of others influence and dominate your own.
The good news is that the body positivity movement is spreading. Embracing your body type and learning to love who you are is my new motto to live by and I hope it should be the same for every being. Body positivity needs to grow and succeed in order to overpower the increasing stigma ascribed to food. Some say that moderation is the key to happiness, but finding that moderation and balance can be difficult. The essential thing to remember is that – taking care of your body, nourishing it and respecting it will make you a lot happier than the punishment and guilt that you may feel after eating foods that may be deemed in society to be ‘bad’.
‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’
Illustration by Emily Godbold