Eating is such an interesting part of life. Culture creates so many norms and values pertaining to both the consumption of and words used about food. This morning as I made my way into the work cafeteria a few co-workers were sitting and enjoying some blueberry scones and one looked up a bit guiltily, as though caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar, smiled as I came in and said, “Come get fat with us!” Not being fully awake I certainly had no interesting reply to give and could only reply, “I don’t think eating one scone makes one fat.”
Thinking about it now, the thing I find most intriguing is how people can associate so much guilt with eating. And there was guilt there, betrayed by the beckoning verbal cues to “join in” on the obviously naughty behavior of eating something other than green leafy veggies in public. Is this guilt some sort of puritan left-over? Is it more a media-induced craze wrought by the conscious effort of actresses and models always needed to be thin, having each action and bite of food scrutinized and moralized that creates this desperate need to avoid eating in public and feel guilty if we do?
Despite a year of working on my own self-acceptance and fat-acceptance journey I find that the urge to defend my food choices is still very much ingrained as a part of my response to any questions regarding what I’m eating for lunch or a snack. And despite this growing self-acceptance it is hard to tamp down the equally ingrained positive glow when someone approves of food I eat in public and the equally annoying nasty guilt resulting after seeing those negative frowns and hearing the negative comments when something is deemed “unhealthy” or “not the best choice”.
It is still a hard thing to get out of this mindset of avoiding conflict when eating in public. When really, it is NONE of anyone else’s business what I’m eating. No, not even my friends or my family have any sort of undeniable RIGHT to mock, criticism or comment on my food choices, in any way shape or form (negative OR positive). Unless you’re trying to tell me there is a big old bug or fuzzy hair in what I’m about to put in my mouth, I really don’t want or need your praise or scorn for my eating.
I’m interested in your thoughts though. Do you feel guilty when eating in public? Does the need to justify your food decisions still overpower your staunchest efforts at self-acceptance/fat-acceptance?