Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sir Lettuce and the Evil Mastermind Jelly Donut: The Power of Food

A year ago I wrote about the best piece of weight loss advice I ever got. It boils down to the importance of forgiving yourself and moving on from overeating, or from eating something you wish you hadn’t. I'm much better than I used to be, but still working on it.

But I didn’t go into one of the big reasons why I think it’s so important to forgive yourself. I said that food guilt accomplishments approximately zero and can actually be demotivating because it makes you feel badly about yourself. And that's all true.

But the other “why” is this: Food guilt is pointless because there's nothing to feel guilty about, because I didn’t do anything bad, because cookies are not bad. Cake is not bad. Lettuce is not good.  They’re just different types of foods. Some more healthy, some less healthy, some with more nutrients and others with less. Cookies didn’t steal your lunch money to buy more cookies with which to throw a rambunctious party and create more cookies, and kale didn’t start volunteering at the pet shelter every Saturday.

This also happens to by why I absolutely hate the word and concept of superfood. By the superfood standards, spinach and romaine are just as superfoody as kale. Likewise for blueberries vs. acai. It's just that kale and acai are novel foods and therefore more interesting.

Certain foods can be triggering. I never, ever buy marshmallow fluff or bottled whipped cream because I always end up eating the whole container in a matter of days. That still doesn’t make it bad, that just means I try to put myself in a situation where I'll be especially temped to overeat.

Putting food into categories gives it so much more power than it deserves. Feeling guilty over food gives it too much power. Overall, food has too much power. Or rather, sometimes we give it too much power. I’m not “oh my god, so BAD” if I eat a cookie, and I’m not “being good” if I have a salad for lunch. Rather, I’m bad if I steal the salad from my local hipster salad place, and I’m good if I get extra cookies to give to my coworkers.

I know this, rationally, but that doesn’t mean those feelings of guilt are gone forever. When I’ve messed up a little, eaten my way from a 3500 calorie deficit to a 2800 one, I’ve definitely been annoyed at myself. When I’ve devoured an entire jar of Fluff, I’m certainly not happy with my choice. But I try really hard to take it into the context that I’m human, I’m going to screw up, and this is something I can and will absolutely move on from. And the road to heath is paved with many chocolate covered bumps, right?

Food can be tempting. It sustains. It’s necessary. It can be delicious. It can be wonderful or make you sick. But it’s just food.


  1. Love the title, lol! And yeah, I've totally let myself feel like a bad person for eating bad foods.

  2. Appreciatte your blog post