The “Power” of Food (& How to Take It Back!)

Food For Thought [pun intended]
When did we start giving food so much power?
When did food-shaming become a thing?
Why are we measuring our self-worth based on what we put in our mouth??

image_123986672 (1)When we say it like this, it sounds crazy, right!? But truth is, the majority of us are guilty of this.  We punish ourselves with murder-fit workouts to “earn” our Sunday brunch, we feel “guilty” after indulging at Thanksgiving dinner, and we label ourselves as “cheaters” for choosing ice cream over our organic green smoothie.  THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!

Giving food this kind of power, is not only a recipe for disaster but can spiral into a lifetime of disordered eating behaviors. For me, this insecurity around food started in grade school.  Lunch time was a tell-tale sign of what clique you belonged to — the popular kids, the nerds, the jocks,  the band geeks, etc.  As a kid who moved around a lot I was consumed with this overwhelming desire to fit-in.  I remember feeling so worried about what was in my lunch box and if it was “cool enough.”  Were the cool kids eating PB&J? Probably not, that was for babies. At what age was it unacceptable to have a pudding in your lunch box?  I shit you not, I can play back this whirlwind of insecurities like it was yesterday.  Long story short, I’ve been giving food an immense amount of power since the beginning of time (my time, at least).

These insecurities followed me into my adult years and by the time ED (my eating disorder) came into my life, I was living with the Eat This, Not That book on my nightstand memorizing every calorie count and avoiding “Not That” foods like the plague.  Do you see how dangerous & unhealthy this can be??

So, how do we take our power back??

  1. Remove the labels
    • Our diet-focused culture has skewed our minds to believe that every food has a label attached to it. If its not bad enough that we’re criticizing and bullying one another… lets start food shaming as well.  My biggest pet peeve is when someone asks what my favorite “cheat meal” is — this question insinuates that I should feel guilty or ashamed for eating that donut or slice of pizza.  As a society we have given food so much power with these “good” and “bad” labels that we can no longer truly enjoy our favorite foods without feeling some sort of remorse during and/or after.  Let me ask you… if I were to eat an entire pizza or sleeve of Oreos by myself, would my worth change? Would you think any less of me? I might feel a pretty sick for a while but at the end of the day, the only reason for this “guilt” feeling is because of the perception we attach to it.  Our food choices are not linked to our self worth and that 11-point piece of pizza will NEVER make you 11-points less of a person.  Take your power back by removing these labels and stop giving food the power to control our emotions.
  2. Process feelings without using food
    • We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t eat your feelings” (or starve your feelings, if you’re anything like me).  Transparency: after my break up, I fell victim to this one… hard.  My calorie consumption was 2 bowls of oatmeal and a bottle of wine every day for about 2 months straight. THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!  I remember waking up one morning on my couch with a killer hangover and Netflix asking if I was still watching — that’s the moment I said “enough is enough.” I stopped drinking, started eating full meals and faced my emotions head on.  I think I cried more tears during month 3 than I did during week 3, but I got through it.  And through that process I found a piece of myself I never knew was there. It was a my inner warrior telling me that I’m a hell of a lot stronger than I think I am! See, eating disorders are never about the food. They are a coping mechanism designed to numb ourselves of everything else going on in our world.  In times of heartbreak, loss, or stresses of every day life, eating disordered behaviors provide stability and control.  However, numbing ourselves, whether it be with food, drugs, or alcohol, is taking the easy way out.  Take your power back by confronting your problems head on! Healing requires action and it occurs when you are brave enough to keep moving forward and loving yourself even when it hurts.
  3. Exercise as a celebration, not as punishment.
    • Now, if THIS isn’t the secret to life, I don’t know what is!  When I hear a trainer say something like “earn your breakfast” or “we’re working off everything you ate this weekend” it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  Its bad enough that we have the media down our throats making us question our self-worth every time we have a slice of pizza, but now we also have fitness professionals telling us that food is something to be earned? THIS IS NOT OKAY!!. Food is fuel and exercise should be a celebration of what the body is capable of, not a punishment for what you ate.  Take your power back by finding an exercise routine that makes you feel good and an instructor that doesn’t make you feel guilty for that extra class of wine you had last night!! (drink all the wine you want, darling!)

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Listen, I understand that everyone doesn’t attach the same value to food as I do and you might be reading this and thinking “she’s crazy, this doesn’t apply to me” — but please, trust me when I tell you that it DOES.  The smallest, nonchalant side comment for you could be the straw that broke the camel’s back for someone else.  You never know who is listening and how your labels are affecting someone else’s mental health.  Be careful with your words and remember, the next time you choose to comment on someone’s food… DON’T.

Ladies, it’s time to take your power back!

One thought on “The “Power” of Food (& How to Take It Back!)

  1. Thanks for fighting diet culture!! I’m recovering from an ED and I know how harmful and triggering can these comments about food and exercise be. And maybe the worst part is that it normalizes disordered behaviors even among people without EDs…

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