LABELS

Diet culture and its oversaturation in our society is of paramount concern. I wanted to take today’s post to address certain elements.

This post is on the more controversial side, and please as usual, if you do not agree with my views on diet culture and labelling OR are not comfortable with seeing an opinion, please don’t read. I don’t write these posts to offend, it’s simply an opinion.

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NAUGHTY FOODS.

I heard this term at the end of 2016 for the first time in my life. Immediately, I thought what the hell is a naughty food? Junk food sure. Foods that are less healthy, sure.

But naughty?

An adjective used to describe an ill-disciplined child being attached to the one thing humans should love and cherish?

Food is a necessity. It is one of the only constants in our lives. So why label it?

In the era of Instagram, youtube and fitspiration, impressionable young minds are being led astray by self proclaimed dieticians on social media claiming they don’t go near “naughty” foods. Wholegrain bread has been labelled a naughty food. Dark chocolate, milk and breakfast muffins are “naughty”.

This post is here, in its non-dietetic glory, to go to hell with naughty foods.

When we start labelling foods as good and bad, we crave the ones we cut out even more. If however, we consume everything in moderation, we have control over our intake. Trust me, I learnt that the hard way. If by cutting the foods we seek to enjoy and find pleasure in, like an almond croissant freshly baked for example, when tempted with even the smell of the food, it’s human reaction to overeat it and then feel guilty or sick. This is a vicious cycle.

Foods should not have moral high ground.

Eating sugar should not come with feelings of guilt, and the temptation to ruin yourself by removing it or purging it from your body. Having a treat or a self care day where you do indulge is a way of giving back to your body. Sure, there’s a difference between treating yourself and emotional eating, but since when did eating activated almonds and drinking smoothies that are more powder than actual natural product make you any healthier? If I’m being completely honest, drinking a smoothie that’s 80% built from powders that i don’t know the manufacturing process of, don’t strike me as healthy.

Dietician, Chloe McLeod eloquently phrases the fact that food is just food, and whether or not something has less or more nutritional value should not give us the right to label it. Yes, it is better for us to consume more greens and less biscuits, but labelling an oat muffin that’s “vegan, gluten free, non-GMO, soy free” as a naughty treat is frankly inhumane. By cutting out foods we deem to be naughty from our diets completely, we do our bodies more harm than good.

By all means, if you are intolerant to dairy, this post is not insinuating that you should stuff your face full of icecream. That’s not going to be a fun trip to the bathroom. But unless you have a true medical reason to do so, there’s no need to restrict and not enjoy everything in moderation. As humans, we have the basic understanding of foods that should be eaten in moderation. But treating ourselves once in a while isn’t giving into naughty foods. It’s being kind to ourselves and being respectful that our bodies sometimes need a little TLC and a square of chocolate without the added guilt of eating a naughty food and then running straight to the gym.

And on this matter, yes transforming foods to suit dietary requirements is an excellent idea. I’m a vegetarian who can’t eat eggs or egg products and is sensitive to dairy. And I love making scones, baked goods and cakes. So I have adapted recipes that make sure I can enjoy such things without causing me grief. But I didn’t intentionally swap out products with the thought of making “naughty” treats healthy.

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Influencers and fitness “gurus” should know better than to advocate for a lfiestyle that is neither useful nor attainable for their followers. To promote a healthy lifestyle is one thing, but to tell impressionable minds that their foods are naughty is wrong. 

I like making pancakes from buckwheat flour simply because I find them much more filling. That doesn’t mean I’m making such a naughty food healthy. I’m not having a naughty breakfast. I’m having pancakes with fruit and nut butter because that’s a great breakfast that keeps me satisfied and satiated. Nowhere in my cooking process do i say, gee look at how healthy i’m making this naughty food.

So here’s to letting go of the stigma society has forced upon us. Let go of what fitness gurus on youtube and Instagram teach you. Unless they have a qualified accreditation behind them, no one can tell you that eating a slice of wholegrain toast is naughty. And anyway, isn’t life too short to be considering what foods should be labelled? Once we start eating food because we want it, and we eat without the guilt associated, then only will food stop ruling our lives. To listen to our bodies and respect our bodies is one thing. But to become our own doctors when we aren’t qualified, and cut out foods that don’t need to be cut out is an unhealthy spiral of binge-eating, guilt and anxiety no one needs in their lives.

Let’s all take a step back and remember that food doesn’t deserve a moral high ground, and therefore, doesn’t deserve a label.

And damn if you want that brownie, eat it and savour it. Don’t add a stress to your life by limiting foods and then torturing yourself when temptation arises. Take it with a grain of salt if you will, but these words are spoken from experience and from the heart.

xx Simran

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