I am not vegetarian nor vegan. There I said it. I’ve claimed to be both vegan and vegetarian at numerous stages over the last few years, pissing off many housemates/relatives when I announce that I shouldn’t be included in dinners because I’ve decided I was vegan that week and then proceeded to gorge myself on cheese or roast chicken right in front of them. I went vegan for 3 months at uni and found it a great way to leap into healthy habits. I’ve since tried (and failed) to go back to vegan ways and used it as a method to make dieting easier by restricting my food choices. So each time I proudly declare to friends or family that I’m vegan now so they should start buying soy milk and tofu, they roll their eyes and wait for me slip up (which usually takes approximately 0.5 hours and one bag of chocolate buttons).
I’ve quickly realised that this habit is really quite annoying so have decided to stop labelling my eating habits and get on with trying to be healthy. While I know I’m only really kidding myself, I’ve noticed that other people are constantly try to catch me out during bouts of veganism. This extends to people I don’t even know. I’ve been furiously shouted at by the vegans of instagram about how honey is not acceptable to eat because ‘BEES FEEL PAIN TOO!!!!’. Another kindly informed me that ‘nothing about steak is plant-based’. This got me thinking about how much food shaming occurs in our culture.
Let’s be honest, a huge proportion of us have had a turbulent relationship with food. With such a strongly enforced dichotomy between ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods this is really no surprise. My fellow blogger Becca wrote beautifully about the danger of these labels and her own guilt surrounding food – her post emphasises how judgemental we have become about food choices because it is so easy to categorise ourselves and each other as good or bad.
It could be argued that food shaming is helpful to encourage others to make healthier choices, but actually judgmental comments are incompatible with mindful eating. Focusing on food rules teaches us to ignore the cues we’re getting from our own bodies and rely on social food norms and restrictions.
We are evolutionarily designed to eat based on our physiological cues. But instead make decisions based on our society’s food rules about what we feel like we should ear or what others think we should eat. Food shaming disconnects us from our internal signals of hunger and fullness which makes it easier to overeat and have cravings.
When we punish ourselves for overindulging this leads to a dangerous cycle of overeating. We eat the bad foods and then decide we have already failed so keep overeating. You then feel so bad about yourself that you vow to only eat good foods, thus placing difficult restrictions that are only building ourselves up for the fall. I am guilty of this cycle and find it really hard to break. We need to stop focusing on what we should or shouldn’t be eating and be listen to what our bodies want.
The key is to be realistic about what we are going to eat and stop categorising foods as good or bad. I’m sick of feeling like I’ve done something wrong every time I take a bite of cake. I’m done with the awkwardness for ordering the salad in a restaurant. I WILL CONTINUE TO EAT HONEY BECAUSE IT’S NATURALLY SWEET AND TASTES SO DAMN GOOD (sorry bees). Lets ignore what we are told is wrong and right, ditch the food rules and let others get on with what they want to eat. By removing the unnecessary food guilt, hopefully we can put pleasure back into eating.
With this in mind, I give you a recipe that is neither good nor bad, but just food.
Chocolate and peanut butter crispy cakes:
Ingredients (makes 20)
1 ½ cups of puffed barley (can buy in Holland and Barrett)
2 tablespoons of a cup of raw cacao powder
6 tablespoons of pure maple syrup/honey
4 tablespoons of coconut oil (can use rapseed oil or butter)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (or an other nut butter)
Handful dried cranberries
1. Melt the coconut oil, maple syrup/honey, coco powder and peanut butter in a pan over a low heat
2. Pour the mixture over puffed quinoa
3. Mix in dried cranberries
4. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases and set in freezer for at least 20mins.
5. Take our of the freezer 10mins before serving