On Food: Why I Despise the Idea of Healthy Eating
Updated: Jun 26, 2019
Our culture is obsessed with following a perfect formula for being healthy. Our preoccupation with body image and how we look often gets hidden under the excuse of wanting to be healthy, as though if we look a certain way, achieve a certain size, that makes us healthy.
I see SO MANY women lamenting how they aren’t eating healthy enough. Berating themselves for “giving in.” Like they are such bad girls for listening to their body and “indulging” in what brings them pleasure, joy or nourishment. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, eating in such a regimented and structured way that they lose touch with the delicious, pleasurable, sensual experience of food.
This is why I hate healthy eating. Because under the guise of eating healthy, we are actually controlling and manipulating the body to do what WE want it to do, rather than listening to it and doing what it is asking of us.
When we stick to a formula or structure of healthy eating, the guiding principles of a pleasurable and fully sensual experience fly out the window. And food is meant to be just that, pleasurable and sensual. As in, engaging our full senses, enjoying the tastes, sight, smells and textures of food, taking in the full experience of eating and nourishing ourselves as a joyous one, not a regimented one. Eating should’t feel like a strategy or a battle, any more than breathing does. It is a basic, necessary, automatic experience our bodies need to thrive. But our cultural obsession has turned it into warfare, controlling, manipulating and forcing it to be something its not.
It isn’t that food we deem “healthy” can’t be pleasurable. If you’ve ever bitten into a perfectly ripe strawberry, you know just how much pleasure healthy food can bring. But eating whole foods, full of nutrition, minimally processed and organically grown, is a LOT different than sticking to a regimented, structured and narrow guideline of what is and isn’t healthy. Similarly, guilting yourself for eating foods that we consider indulgent also doesn’t get us closer to health. Guilt is a toxic emotion that also robs us of the joy and pleasure that eating is meant to bring.
Eating is the essence of what keeps us alive on the planet. It isn’t meant to be a perfunctory experience, full of rules, do’s and don’ts and lots of good and bad. It IS meant to have you feel satiated, satisfied, alive and joyful. Food IS full of pleasure and life force and when done well should have you feeling better than when you began.
A strict, structured way of eating is a sure recipe for one of two things: a lot of misery when it comes to food and eating, OR a big binge is just around the corner. And often, both happen. We are wired to have an emotional, enjoyable experience with food. But when we follow food rules and regmines, when we let popular fad diets and health trends rule the way we eat and fuel our body, we are headed down a slippery slope.
Our bodies always win. Sooner or later, you will give into food that brings you pleasure (and probably overindulge after so much restriction). You’ll probably feel guilty about “giving in”, but the truth is, that giving in is the thing that really nourishes you. And done on the regular the giving in, isn’t a giving in, it’s a giving of vital pleasure and joy. It’s giving all the things you’ve denied yourself when you’re eating based on a bunch of rules and beliefs about doing it right because that’s how you stay healthy.
That isn’t how you stay healthy. Staying healthy means listening to your body and what she needs. It means following the voice of your desire, be it for a piece of chocolate cake, a hike in the woods, intimacy with a friend or lover, or some kale and chicken. What really adds up to health is the listening and honoring of what your body needs, not just adding up a bunch of numbers or a random set of ingredients.