Have you ever been in the position where you’re at a social event or just out with a friend and you guys decide to grab something to eat, but when you go to order you begin to make excuses for what you want to choose?
“Oh, I did a really hard workout this morning so I’ve earned this bit of toast” or “I haven’t really eaten much today/this week so it’s ok for me to have this scone rather than the green juice”.
Well, you’ve just food shamed yourself, feeling like you shouldn’t have that scone even though you really want it because you’re afraid of what the other person might think or say, after all, you are meant to be the healthy one, right?
Or even more annoying is when someone else does it to you, “oh you’re going to eat that are you, I didn’t think you’d ever eat that?!”
I’ve got this a few times and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to hear.
Being an honest healthy eater
I feel this is an important topic to share because if people view healthy eating/wellness as something that never involves the occasional indulgence or means never being able to have a slice of toast again it puts people off ever trying in the first place, or worse, it could encourage a very negative, restrictive relationship with food.
As a person who is passionate about and promotes health and wellness I do try to show people that there is a balance which makes it easier to stick to and to be honest that not all wellness gurus are perfect kale chompers 100% of the time. Furthermore, I feel that for most people it’s nearly impossible to do this, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a restaurant where they don’t do a single wholegrain option and I’m not a big meat eater so it’s either choose some white rice risotto or have nothing but a plate of veggies. Likewise when I’m socialising with friends I’ll loosen the reigns and enjoy the get-together by sharing a few slices of pizza with my friend.
Honesty helps avoid the unfair labels
Many articles these days are writing about the “dirty side or secret” of clean eating and how it’s promoting eating disorders. I feel this is a very unfair label to put on anyone who likes to eat/live differently, which is another reason why the honesty is so important, to show that you don’t always need to be so strict.
I want to point out that I’m not encouraging filling yourself up on junk food consistently but I do believe that in this day and age it’s very difficult to avoid any sort of treat/refined ingredient all of the time and that’s ok!
So if you see someone in the health business on social media posting their cookie or pizza at a restaurant, please don’t make them feel bad or make a big deal out of it because I’m sure there’s also been a time when you’ve done the same.
How to stop food shaming
1– Be honest with yourself, you know when you’ve filled yourself with real, nourishing food that has provided your body with what it needs and therefore deserve a treat (without having to explain it). Likewise, you know when you haven’t and therefore when you should put that second cookie back or walk away from buying that takeout because your body deserves a little more nourishment and care that week.
2– Acknowledge that everyone has their own vice/indulgence and that it may be different from yours. Your treat may be a brownie but someone elses may be a glass of wine or a big juicy steak, no matter if it’s sweet, salty or savoury we all have a weakness but we indulge this at different times so although you may be choosing the super food salad that day don’t make your friend/family feel guilty about them ordering something different.
3– Be aware of the difference between advice and shaming. With my educational background in food I do have a lot of advice to share with people but I try to be mindful of when I doll it out and how I go about saying it. Giving advice to someone who’s struggling on their diet/wants to know how best to cook a food/is confused about headlines is quite different from waiting until after someone has already ordered their steak at a restaurant and then lecturing them about red meat.
This can be a tough one when it comes to family, so try to explain that you’re giving this advice because you’re worried about their health/want them to live longer and healthier and that you’re not doing it to make them feel bad.
4– A good, healthy relationship with food requires you to be able to stick with it long term while enabling you to keep your sanity and this means being able to have your cake too. If anyone is too restrictive with themselves it can quickly become a negative thing and end up doing more harm than if you just gave yourself permission to enjoy that cheese board!
So what are my favourite indulgences?
For anyone in the Belfast area who has visited St George’s market, you’ll know there’s an array of amazing food stands. One of my favourite things to eat there is a savoury pesto, cheese and red onion crepe, oooh it’s delicious! You also can’t beat the chocolate peanut butter balls from the “Check out my buns” stand.
In all honesty, although I eat really well 95% of the time, If I had to extend this to 100% of the time and sit there watching someone scoff a crepe into their face while all that’s available for me is a green juice, I’d lose my mind, so this is where I draw the line and put my sanity first.
Bottom line, be honest with yourself and be wise with your wellbeing, which includes your happiness and mental wellbeing too. The emotion of shame shouldn’t be associated with your food, instead, replace it with (insert Ed Sheeran’s voice from his new album) looove and understanding, positivity!
I hope this helps,