Updated: Mar 31
“He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.”
A little bit of a detour from my usual topics, but on back foot of the previous posts I thought it would be helpful to discuss rules around food.
Culture plays a huge role in building these beliefs, as there is an overwhelming amount of pressure to conform to the thin ideal. The body is a billboard advertising worthiness, desirability and status so we religiously idealise a diet, a type of food, exercise plan or regime. It has become religion in the modern world. Our step away from spirituality has led us to obsess over food rules and we no longer curate personal practices that improve individualised wellbeing- whether physical, social, spiritual, emotional or other.
How many times have you said no to something that you actually wanted to eat? How many times have you tried a new fad diet? Focused on a specific food group, or cut one out completely? How often do you label food- “naughty”, “bad”, “treat”, or “weekend food”?
At the age of 12 I was told that if I wanted to have a thin belly, I should stop eating carbs. So that's exactly what I did.
Food rules allow us to experience a sense of safety. It also leads to bias, discrimination, weight stigma, restriction, socially accepted disordered eating (or an eating disorder), weight cycling, self blame and a whole host of health risks. This cycle is vicious and deceptive, and it does not promote flexible, individualised eating which includes and promotes nutritional needs and pleasure.
I have realised that by following rules, I question my deservingness, I shy away from my instinct of wanting to try things, of experiencing pleasure. I cannot remember the last time I allowed myself, or gave myself permission to eat certain things. Food rules have made me socially anxious around eating with others, of experiencing those special intimate moments with friends and loved ones . Food rules are controlled, restrictive and inflexible.
Personally, I am so hungry. Hungry to break these rules. Hungry to experience freedom around food. I have a great deal of enthusiasm about being a little more rebellious. Of celebrating. And ultimately, being a little more French.
I hope you, too, do not fall into the traps of food rules and diet culture. You and your body deserve more.