It’s okay to eat what you want. It really is.
I don’t care whether what you want is a five course gourmet meal, a bag of Skittles and a Diet Coke, a small green salad with dressing on the side, fois gras or tofu dogs. It’s okay.
You’re an adult. You get to choose. You don’t have to justify your decision to me, your mom (unless you happen to be cooking it in her kitchen), your next door neighbor, or the complete stranger who felt justified in giving you squiggle eyes at the grocery store for choosing whatever you chose from the shelves.
The measure of your waistline does not give anyone the right to judge what you choose to eat. You do not need to carry a permission slip from your doctor explaining that even though you’re not a size 0 you are not this moment dying of: heart failure, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, joint failure, or a fat-related earache.
Nobody can judge a person’s general health from a glance at the size tag in their clothes. What’s more, you do not owe anyone on the planet eternal health. It’s not in the human contract.
You do not need to represent the fat community, either by attempting to prove that not everyone who shops the women’s section does nothing but shovel Twinkies into their mouths all day long, nor by actively defying expectation that we should all be on an eternal diet to combat our natural bodies.
Food is fuel. Your body needs fuel to function properly. There are myriad reasons for choosing what fuel we do. There’s preference, availability, culture, funding, culinary knowledge, time, religious belief, philosophy, compromise to suit those we are eating with, allergies, chronic health conditions, and a host of other things. There’s one thing that is never a good reason to choose or deny yourself a particular food: fear of what someone else will think.
We’ve been conditioned by society to apologize for wanting to eat. All day long the television blares out ads for weight loss programs and pills – not to mention shows like The Biggest Loser, I Want to Save Your Life, and Bulging Brides. The radio harangues us about getting ready for swimsuit season or avoiding temptation during the holiday season. Every day when I turn on my computer and surf the net, I am visually assaulted by more ads telling me my body is wrong, I’m on the verge of death no matter what my doctor says, and I should be ashamed to eat. Half of all water cooler conversation these days seems to be about refusing or shamefully failing to refuse edible treats.
Enough, I say!
Repeat after me: It’s okay to eat what I want to eat.
You want to know what happens when you say that? When I said that some two years ago, I felt as though a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt free. I haven’t stopped feeling free since that day.
I didn’t suddenly gain a thousand pounds. I didn’t eat the world. I didn’t fit back into my size 8 jeans (and a darn good thing, too, considering how completely out of fashion they would be today). My hair didn’t fall out, my lifelong aversion to mushrooms didn’t vanish, my social circle didn’t change, I didn’t collapse from malnutrition or have a heart attack, unicorns did not magically begin to cavort in my garden, and I didn’t win the lottery.
What did change was that suddenly I didn’t feel compelled to eat a hamburger because I happened to be in a restaurant that features huge hamburgers. If what I really want is a salad, I’ll order that. If I feel the eyes of others on me, waiting to be offended if I dare to get the burger I happen to be craving, I order the burger, anyway. It’s not my problem if someone else has the time and mental space to hover around waiting to find my behavior offensive. Most people don’t have the time, the space, or the monomania to be horrified at my order, it turns out. And if they do, well, I don’t have the interest to apologize to a complete stranger for perfectly reasonable behavior on my part.
In those extremely rare instances, I only have time to spend a nanosecond feeling sorry for their empty lives before I dig into my meal and enjoy the hell out of it.
Oh, and I order dessert if I have the room in my belly and the desire for something sweet on my tongue. If I don’t really want dessert, then I don’t get it.
Why? Because I’m an adult. I’m allowed make these choices for myself. So are you.
Say it out loud and proud: I’m an adult, and it’s up to me what I want to eat.
Then get out there and eat what makes your body, your mind, and your taste buds happy.
This is the end of another Food Friendly May…but in Twistie World food is friendly every day. I hope it will be in your world, too.