Why we need to stop justifying what's on our plates
"I know, I know, I totally went over board with the chocolate..."
"I never eat this much sugar.. I worked out earlier though, so I totally earned it."
"I don't know why I ate the whole thing! I never do."
*Orders sprouted-grain toast with an organic avocado, a local pasture raised egg, and micro greens*
*Feels like they need to justify why they're eating carbs
Food justification. It's been on my mind a lot recently. Once I realized what I was hearing (and thinking), it was one of those things I was encountering almost every day. I heard it in day-to-day conversation and especially saw it as I scrolled through my instagram feed.
Food justification is when we feel the need to explain, apologize, or justify what we're eating to ourselves and others.
It's ordering a dessert, finishing the whole thing, then reminding yourself that it's okay because you went to Soul Cycle earlier. It's telling someone you're only eating pizza because it's your cheat meal. It's captioning your photo with, "I know grains can be inflammatory, and I don't always eat them, but my body was craving them today."
I see this most often with women, but I see it with guys too. We've gotten to this point where we feel the need to explain why we're eating something. I actually don't blame us though. We often are just trying to protect ourselves from judgement we think we are going to receive. If I tell people why I'm having something, they won't judge me, and I will be liked. If I tell myself I can have something since I worked out, or because I've been "good" all week, then we protect ourselves from our own judgement and guilt.
The interesting part is when we justify what we eat, we are fostering this weird, not-so-loving relationship with food. If you want that ice-cream, eat it because you're gonna enjoy the eff out of that double chocolatey goodness with rainbow sprinkles. Eat it because that's what your body wants in that moment (make sure it's not solely because you're anxious, angry, etc. because you probably won't end up enjoying it in those states anyway). Eat it because you are out with friends and are enjoying being in the moment with them.
That's way more soul-nourishing than any green juice will ever be.
I tend to write blog posts on topics that are near and dear to my heart or around things I experience. When I got comments on pictures I post like, "Wow girl, that looks like a lot of food! (meanwhile I ate the whole thing and was still hungry)," or "Do you really put nut butters on everything? I try not to because there's so much fat in it," or, "Did you ever see the documentary What The Health? Chicken and eggs are really not good for you.."
I would feel the need to explain why I was choosing to eat something. It got to the point where I would feel the need to explain myself in my captions too.
Like explaining that I lost my period and was anemic and didn't feel like 100% like myself (and mostly because your girl just loves some quality meat every so often!) before posting animal products. If I posted a couple baked good recipes in one week, I felt like I needed to explain that I swear I ate greens too!! Bleh. Lameeeee.
Not only do we begin to see foods as "good" and "bad" when we justify what we're eating, we aren't being unapologetically ourselves.
Do you have that one friend that doesn't give a flying fudge about what others think and they do things because it works for them? They may not have as many supporters/followers/friends, but the ones they do have are so much more connected to them.
If you don't post grains to make the paleo-ers happy, don't post animal products for vegans, don't post sugar for those that are always on some kind of sugar detox, or don't post quinoa or beans because you'll be excluding Whole 30'ers, then 1- what the heck are you posting, because I'd be impressed you can still make things haha, and 2- you may gain an abundance of friends and followers, but is it at the expense of not being yourself, or shall I say, boring AF?
Now I focus on posting to share recipes I love, information I find beneficial, products I'm raving about, and to connect with the amazing people on this platform that I call my insta besties (yes. insta besties. try to sound more millennial). I order things at restaurants without prefacing that I am going to be "bad" and get the pasta dish, or that I rarely eat chocolate so this is my treat, or that I ran 4 miles earlier so I'mma order that greasy slice of pizza.
If someone makes a comment in person or on social media about what's on your plate, then maybe they're just not your people. OR you can have your eyes opened to a new way of eating that you really enjoy. Either way, you're respecting and listening to what they have to say, but not letting it sway what you believe in and what works for you.
Basically, we need to stop tying food to guilt. I'm not a fan of "guilt-free" chocolate chip cookies because it insinuates I should be guilty for having the ooey-gooey real deal. How about we eat the real deal because we want it, and we have the gluten-free-oatmeal-vegan option because we want it. Same deal, just different situations.
I know it sounds like I'm being super sensitive about something as simple as food, but it's just another aspect in life that can be tied to guilt, and another way we shut down being vulnerable, and lose the ability to be ourselves.
So try new things. Share what you believe in. Listen to others. Respect them, but ultimately do what works for you. We need more people being their best selves without any apologies, and less people trying to fit in this perfect little box in order to be liked.
Let's have an open relationship (wow I really am being so millennial today) with food, and eat what we want. No one knows your full story and food is body-nourishing, but soul-nourishing too.