Do you get sucked in by food-shaming trends?

Bowl of pasta (spaghetti style noodles) with pesto and cherry tomatoes.

Lately I’ve been super aware of the way moralizing about foods always involves food-shaming. When some foods are vilified and others are “good,” there is an implicit suggestion that enjoying the “bad” foods is a shameful thing.

I call bullshit on that idea. We here at Fit Is a Feminist Issue are tolerant of lots of things, but food and body shaming are not among them. We know for a fact that food isn’t good or evil.

Yes it’s a good idea to cover your bases with a variety of foods from different nutritional groups like protein, carbs and whole grains. But that’s no reason to demonize sugar or wheat or anything that isn’t organic, or even food with preservatives.

By all means listen to your body and pay attention to what foods might not agree with you. I can’t digest garlic except in small amounts. I don’t think that makes it evil. But it does mean I need to be aware of when it’s in foods and avoid things that are very garlicky. I do get sugar crashes if I eat too many desserts or candies, but again that doesn’t mean sugar is bad. It just means I don’t do well if I make it the main ingredient of every meal! But that’s just conventional wisdom–you know: variety, moderation, balance.

So what are the food trends that are getting under my skin these days because they usually tilt towards fanaticism? The usual suspects: paleo, ketogenic (I don’t know what that is but I did it years ago and dropped a ton of weight that I gained all and more back), low fat, low carb, high fat, gluten free (unless you’re celiac), sugar free, all natural, organic whole foods only, clean eating, anything that claims to be a “detox,” anything based on powdered meal replacements, and anything that says I can’t have bread. Oh, and anything that says I have to put my food in specially portioned different coloured containers. And definitely anything that is based on special products or info that is only available through multi-level marketing.

We are headed into the time of year when these things get offered as magic cures to make our bodies and our lives better! If you have to tie yourself to the mast like Odysseus to avoid the call of these Sirens, do it. They do not serve us well.

So that’s what to avoid. What to do? I know it’s boring but sensible eating means a variety of foods in amounts that satisfy you. Variety, balance, moderation. Throw in regular activity doing things you like to do and adequate sleep and you are on the right track. With all the messaging encouraging extremism it’s tough to do. But developing healthy habits that you can stick with and don’t leave you feeling deprived is a tried and true approach. It may not have the allure of a magical solution. But do we really still believe that the magic solution is out there?

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