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Stop food shaming yourself

16 August 2016, 08:04Cath Jenkin

“I can’t eat this today. It’s not a cheat day.”
“I had pasta for dinner and now I have carb guilt.”
“You’ll want to look your best on your wedding day. What’s your plan?”

What you’ve just read are three statements that have been said in my presence in the last week- all of them uttered by women. Now I’m not here to loudly shout up the Body Positivity movement that was so beautifully communicated through a Jet campaign earlier this year.

That campaign and its advocates were far better at talking about Body Positivity than I am. What I am going to yell about instead, are the insidious little jibes we throw at ourselves, when talking to friends or colleagues: when we #foodshame ourselves. 

Being hungry isn't noble

Every single dietitian, nutritionist and the like will tell you: being hungry isn’t good for you. It’s not good for your body, it’s not good for your state of mind, and starving yourself for the sake of the ideal figure you think you’re supposed to have isn’t heroic. If you’re starving yourself, you’re doing it wrong.

Guilt isn’t good for you

The thing about #foodshaming is that when we ‘joke’ to our friends about how we’re ‘not allowed’ that pasta, we’re making ourselves feel guilty for… what, exactly? The only time you should not be allowed to eat something is when you’re allergic to it, or when it’s been recommended to you by your doctor that you should avoid a certain type of food. 

It’s about balance

The said balance is so often hard-won, or feels mystical in its appearance. However, the 80/20 rule that I’ve heard so much about is true: eat the pasta, and then have fruit for another meal; enjoy the chocolate and enjoy the platter of healthier snacks later on.

I will never understand why we’re being conditioned to feel guilty about what we eat, but we’re doing it to ourselves. South Africa-based personal trainer, Jane Kilian, agrees with me. She says: “I'm all about balance and I say that to my clients as well. It's not your fault your birthday is on a Tuesday and your cheat day is a Sunday. Eat the cake! Eat sensibly 80% of the time and allow yourself to enjoy treats 20% of the time. Throw in exercise 3-5 days per week and you're on the right track!”

They’re watching you

While we’re morosely avoiding the dessert tray and our family enjoys a delicious dinner, what exactly are we teaching our children?

My daughter asked me about this the other day, as someone had quipped that last statement you read above. My kid said: “Mom, why do you need a diet plan for your wedding?” I don’t, but many people think they do, or pursue one. That’s okay, but the assumption that I’m in need of a wedding diet plan or that I’m looking for one said two things to me: firstly, that the person who said it thinks I’m overweight and secondly, that she thinks I think I am too. She was very wrong.

Now, someone, hand me the cake fork.  



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