Food has become a way of measuring our worth.
The day that you recognise the toxic way that we talk about eating, it's hard not to notice it everywhere. Recently, it hit me as hard as my belly hits the water every time I try to dive into a pool. I've spent the last few weeks being disgusted at the fact that people feel the need to scold themselves for consuming, for not working out first and for putting something "naughty" on their plate. I've been disgusted at myself for thinking this stuff! And the craziest thing is that I didn't even realise I was doing it until now because it just existed as a part of me. So, whilst I don't think I'm adding anything new or revolutionary to this conversation, I think it's important to keep reinforcing that what you eat doesn't define whether you are a "good" or a "bad" member of society.
Food really shouldn't carry a morality label. The truth is that chocolate and pizza aren't inherently bad. They shouldn't induce guilt within us. Similarly, we shouldn't be basing our comfort within ourselves on "good days". Yes, fruit is full of vitamins and minerals (and tastiness, dammit!), but putting that in your system doesn't make you a better person than you were yesterday when you had mac n cheese. As soon as you set that as a defining feature of what makes you you, you're open to self-loathing every time you decide to eat something just because it tastes good. You are the same human whatever you eat. You're just digesting something different.
It all comes down to the fact that we've been programmed to think that the worst thing a person can be is fat. It's so deep in our society that we now constantly associate fatness with immorality - in ourselves and others - and hide it under the guise of wanting everyone to be healthy. Diet culture is real and it's scary. That's why the way that we talk about food is so important. Terms like "clean eating" and "detoxing" suggest that everything else is dirty. Without noticing it we shame people for wanting something that contains oil, sugar or whatever else isn't a part of the latest meal plan.
This is a societal problem, for sure. But I need to change my internal monologue too. It's time to fix the unintentionally toxic way that I, like most of us, sometimes think about food. What I eat should be based on what I feel like will fuel me for that day and what brings me joy, not on what somebody on Instagram tells me is "safe" to consume.