When did food turn into something we have to track, instead of a way to nourish our bodies and bring ourselves joy?
While checking out at the grocery store the other day, I was chatting with someone I knew behind me in line. She goes “looks like you eat healthy,” as she noticed my items on the belt, then said “I have to look at how many calories are in these though,” and took a look at a bag of tortilla chips I was buying. They were veggie & flaxseed corn tortilla chips that I noticed were new at Aldi, so I decided to give them a try for taco night.
I don’t remember what her facial expression was like after checking out the calories in the chips; I was honestly too bothered by the fact that she was more concerned about the calories in them, than what they were actually made of or how they tasted.
The ingredients really aren’t unhealthy–corn, vegetable oil, flax seeds, carrot powder, red beet powder, spinach powder, tomato powder, sea salt, parsley, garlic powder, and onion powder. Yeah, vegetable oil isn’t my first choice, but there’s no added sugar, no ingredients I can’t pronounce, and all the ingredients are organic (you rock, Aldi).
No matter what the ingredients even are, though, calories shouldn’t be the first thing to look at when picking out products. I’m not trying to diss this lady at all–like most Americans, she has lived most of her life hearing messages from the media and corporations telling her to count calories, stay away from fat and carbs, and avoid foods that will make you gain weight.
I was in this mindset for awhile when I first started trying to eat better. I was using an app to count calories and was super stressed out when I had to make food decisions. While I still have difficult days, I’ve finally started to get to the point where I can view food as more than just what I read on the nutrition facts label.
Food is nourishment. Food is what supplies your body with energy so you can move, think, laugh, work, socialize, and live. Food isn’t just a necessity, it should be enjoyed and appreciated. It can be comforting, mood-boosting, exciting, and, of course, absolutely delicious.
If you’re trying to eat better, it’s important to pay attention to ingredients, portion sizes, and your hunger cues, but labeling food as “good” and “bad” and not allowing yourself to truly enjoy food ends up causing more stress and unhappiness than just eating what you want to eat.
And I know there are people who have terrible relationships with food, maybe even a mild or severe eating disorder. It’s amazing to me how much harm and help food can be at the same time. That’s a whole other topic, though, and luckily I haven’t had to experience an eating disorder myself (I recommend checking out In It 4 the Long Run and The Chasing Joy Podcast–Georgie has some awesome content related to this).
I didn’t feel comfortable talking to this lady about her comment in the checkout at Aldi, and it was so busy that I really didn’t have the time either, so I came home and began writing this post, because I want this message to get out. The whole reason I started this blog was to show people that it’s possible to live healthy and happy and eat delicious food, without restriction or diets or counting calories.
I know how difficult it can be to get out of this mindset, especially if you’d been taught differently your whole life, but I encourage you to try to look at food differently. You need food to survive, but there’s so much more to it than carbs, fat, or calories.
What has your experience been with food, dieting, or eating disorders? (If you’d feel more comfortable, you can shoot me an email instead of commenting below–email@example.com)