One of mine and Justin’s late night activities is taking Buzzfeed quizzes together. The dumber, or more related to food, the better. I’ve mentioned my love of personality quizzes a few times and I have no doubt that it will come up again in the future. Honestly, I’m already working on the template for a “Which Eating Elsewhere Dessert Are You?” quiz. And I’ll probably take it a few times myself. We were taking a quiz a few nights ago and there was one of the token “Choose one word that best describes you” questions. I was leaning toward like…Hyper Intelligent or Super Sophisticated, but Justin chose the much less classy “Yolo-y” for me.
I was not so into it. I was never into the word YOLO, and now it’s kind of passé. But I do understand his logic. I do believe that we should all take full advantage of our lives and do what we really love NOW rather than wait for the right moment (to quit a job you hate, to go on a trip you deserve, to eat dessert). I feel like that about the food we eat too.
Before I begin my tirade against fad diets, I do want it to be clear that I don’t think that we should have high sugar diets, dessert for every meal (as much as I love making it), and ignore doctors or our own bodies. The majority of my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are made up of fresh produce. I love a simple Greek yogurt bowl with strawberries and bananas in the morning and a big pot of veggie soup for dinner. Eating vegetables is important. Eating a wide variety of food is important. Listening to doctors and health professionals is important. If your doctor tells you to cut back on salt and/or sugar or that milk or gluten really doesn’t work with your body, freaking cut back on salt and sugar and don’t consume dairy or gluten. If some fake-ass health guru who has never met you in person, doesn’t have any medical or nutrition credentials, and is trying to sell a product tells you to eat like a “caveman,” fuck that person and don’t eat the way they tell you to (unless you want to and the recipes sound really good because you don’t have to listen to me either).
The diet industry makes a ton of money convincing consumers that we don’t know how to eat. Low-carb, low-sugar, no fat, high fat, paleo, Whole30. Every year there will be something new and every year, a ton of consumers will flock to the new diet and write essays about how their body is totally different, they feel like new people, they never knew they could eat like this, etc. I’m not saying some of these diets don’t make people feel better. Many of them encourage people to refocus their eating around fresh produce and protein, which will certainly make you feel better if you hadn’t previously done that. Fad diets are infuriating to me. They convince people to spend money on products and books that push one idea or philosophy of eating when there just isn’t one way or philosophy of eating that will work for everyone. I want you to eat what you want to eat. I want you to eat what works for your lifestyle and your body. And I don’t want you to have to feel bad for it or spend a ton of money on books and recipes and products to eat “well.”
I was a big fan of the Great British Baking Show (tears for our loss), but I didn’t know how deeply I would love a former contestant, Ruby Tandoh, until I read her essay “The Unhealthy Truth Behind ‘Wellness’ and ‘Clean Eating'” in Vice. Now I have become an even bigger fan of Ruby than I was of the show. She writes openly about her struggles with her eating disorder and the diet culture that has taken over food writing. She talks about the crusade against gluten and how despite the fact that it has been proven (countless times) that there is no medical benefit to cutting out gluten unless you are one of the 5 percent of people who suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity or the 1 percent of people with Celiac’s Disease, wellness gurus continue to make a fortune selling books and products that help people eliminate gluten from their diets.
This week, I wrote about my own difficult relationship with food. I wrote about how fearful I once was to eat, to overeat. I didn’t eat sugar or desserts or bread. I do eat those things now, and it took a long time for me to eat them without anxiety. I can say very confidently that not only do I have a more positive relationship with food than I did when I was much more severe with myself about “nutrition,” but I’m much healthier as well. I eat better than I did before. I eat more. I eat a wider variety of foods. I’m not afraid to try new foods or to eat out at new restaurants because I’m no longer anxious about how many calories, or grams of sugar or carbs or protein, are in each morsel. I no longer have to look up restaurant menus to make sure I can order something “healthy” and “low calorie” before I’ll agree to go. Before, I only ate what I knew. I could add my calories up in about five minutes because I ate the same things over and over and over. New foods meant new possibilities to mess up, to overeat. I never want to eat like that again. And I don’t think you should eat like that either.
One of my main goals for this blog is not only to keep a record of my baking triumphs (and sure, failures), but to empower myself and the kind people who come here to be adventurous with the foods we create and eat. Eating is essential. Enjoying it isn’t, but it should be.