“Do you know how many calories are in that?”
“That’s so bad for you!”
“I need to stay away from that!”
“That has so many calories!”
“That’s so much food!”
“That’s too many calories for me!”
“I’ve been eating like sh*t! I may as well eat this too!”
“I’m going to have to go workout after I eat this!”
“Keep those cookies away from me!”
We’ve all heard these. These phrases have become normalized when it comes to the types of “high-calorie, guilt laden” foods we like to hate one, like cookies, cake, pie or candy.
These phrases may seem funny or clever, but it can be incredibly harmful to utter these phrases, or anything like them, in regards to food. Whether it’s someone’s food specifically, or whether it’s communal food, like a platter of Christmas cookies or a cake — these phrases can be terribly discouraging for some people, especially people with a history of an eating disorder or very restrictive eating.
I think a lot of times people utter these phrases to mean something like, “Lol, this food is so unhealthy and bad for me! I want to make it clear to everyone around that normally, I am a 100% pure and certified health nut who would never ever eat something containing butter and sugar and fat, but I certainly want a cookie right now, so I’ll make a joke about how many calories are in it, just so everyone knows I’m usually ‘good’ about food! This will assuage my own guilt and I will look like a health queen!”
For some people, phrases like these elicit a giggle. Maybe the person is genuinely kidding, or maybe they are hiding their own pain related to food, body image or weight. Whatever. But, to say this to, or in front of, the wrong person can be triggering.
If you don’t have anything positive to say about someone else’s food, or communally available food, then please don’t say anything at all. If you want some of the food, take it, eat it and enjoy it. If you don’t want the food, or if you are experiencing your own food guilt, please don’t give it a voice, and please don’t project it onto others. Your comments can ruin someone’s day, or ruin their experience with that particular food.
Those Who Suffer Silently
People (myself included) tend to suffer silently. Sometimes I’ll speak up and say “It’s just a cookie” or “it’s not that big of a deal to have one brownie square,” but on days when I am fighting with my own food issues or trying to love myself and my body or just trying to eat without feeling guilt, I hear conversations like these and I don’t have a shred of positivity to offer.
I can usually stick it out once or twice, but when it’s everywhere (like, during the holidays), it becomes so exhausting that I internalize it, and I start to second guess all the work and progress I’ve made in recovery. I start to wish I weighed 20 pounds less and only ate kale again.
I do not, at all, look like I would have had (or have) an eating disorder. I am not skinny. I am not thin. So I’m sure no one would suspect that I’m recovering from an eating disorder. And I’m certain I’m not the only one in this boat. Disordered eating and restrictive eating comes in all shapes and sizes. You never know who you’re talking to, or what they’re dealing with in regards to food, weight and body issues.
What can we do?
If you are like me, and you are recovering from disordered or restrictive eating and these types of comments set you off too, I’m sorry, and I understand. I usually try to get away from the negative talk and think of all the positive things eating disorder recovery has taught me.
If you are the type of person who likes to make these types of comments, or who feels compelled to make these comments in the presence of food, please stop. Please keep these feelings to yourself, or rid yourself of these feelings entirely. Food is just food. It has no moral good and bad values. It is just food.