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"Guilt-free" food rant

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm about to go on a rant. I've been on the verge of it for days and I've decided that holding it in isn't going to cut it.

Leading up to Valentine's Day, I saw a lot of candy advertisements. I saw one in particular that got on my last nerve. The ad was for some cute little candies and the print on the ad informed me that I could enjoy these little bites "guilt free."

Well, gee, thanks for your permission, a$$hole. That's just what we need - someone to give us permission to not feel like crap about ourselves. How nice of you.

The candies were little blobs of refined sugar mixed with high fructose corn syrup - and zero nutrition - but since they were fat free, I was being encouraged to buy them and eat them. As a bonus, I would be allowed to retain my self esteem afterward.




There are a slew of companies advertising “guilt-free” this and “guilt-free” that. I don’t know why this one ad was the last straw for me, but it was. I was genuinely offended and I haven’t quite gotten over it yet.
I was completely jump-off-my-soap-box-and-punch
-someone-in-the-nose angry.

You know why?
…because ALL food is guilt free. EVERY cookie, EVERY burger, EVERY candy bar, EVERY recipe is guilt free.

Have you ever seen a recipe that called for even a teaspoon of guilt? I know I haven’t. Guilt is an emotion, not an ingredient.

If there is any guilt involved it isn’t in any food, it’s in the person eating it.

When I hear commercials that say, “Our product is made with blah blah so you can enjoy our product guilt free!” two things come to mind and both of those things make me sad and angry.

I’ve got plenty to say about both things that come to mind, so I have to cover them one at a time.

Here is the first thing: When a company says, “…you can enjoy our product without the guilt!” it sounds like they trying to tell us that we should feel guilty if we enjoy any other product.

WRONG! That’s wrong! You shouldn’t feel guilty, not at all. Unless you are eating a live baby seal or your neighbor‘s children, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT - PERIOD!

Every day, in just about every work place, on almost every playground, in every city, there is someone who is looking down on or making fun of someone who is overweight. Those of us who have carried extra pounds on our bodies have often been made to feel as though we were worth less than our lighter counter parts. Some of us have been excluded, ignored, bashed, or abused by people who weigh less than we do. Our friends, our family members, our doctors, our coworkers, and the media blast us with messages that say we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Some of us have been made to feel as though we are lazy, lack discipline, lack character, or lack intelligence because of our weight. Some of us have been denied jobs, insurance, medical treatment, acceptance, friends, dignity, and love.

…and as a result, some of us feel guilty about eating.

Feeling guilty about eating is tragic. It’s self abuse. I don’t care if you just polished off 9 boxes of Oreos and a gallon of ice cream, feeling guilty about it is just adding emotional abuse on top of physical abuse. It is so, so unhealthy. It’s tragic in a way I can’t even begin to describe. It is a symptom of a tragic problem. It is the internalization of abuse.

On to the second thing that comes to mind and makes me angry: “You can enjoy our guilt-free whatevers…” probably actually means, “We know that a portion of the population has internalized some abuse and learned to hate themselves on some level. We are perfectly willing to exploit that if it makes us some money.”

Oh Yeah? Well screw you and the emotionally abusive, self righteous, skinny little, airbrushed, heroin-chic horse you rode in on!

I do get angry. I get ticked because I go to the Spark message boards and I look at the panic button entries and I see really good people beating themselves up. I’m sad for these people and I am ticked at a society that brings these people to these moments.

Too many times, a person is taught to eat for comfort, and then is taught to hate themselves for having sought that comfort. This is some twisted teaching. It is the equivalent of teaching a student to punish him/herself for having mastered his/her lessons. It's crazy making.

We are taught to take good care of things we love, value, or appreciate -
then we are taught to hate ourselves -
then we are ridiculed for not taking good care of something we hate.
...more crazy making.

If you ever feel guilty about eating something, whether it’s what you ate, when, or how much, please, please look at this feeling for what it really is. It is the emotional abuse of your own self.

You didn’t come into this world feeling this way about yourself. You were trained to do it. Maybe you were trained by people calling you names and telling you straight out that you were no good. Maybe you were trained by hearing those things said to others. Maybe messages like, “Try our guilt-free whats-its!” continues to cultivate in you the idea that guilt and food should be related at times.

No matter how it was done, it was wrong. No matter who delivered the message, they were lying. If you feel as though you lack character in some way because you ate something less-than-healthy, then you are perpetuating the lies. You are agreeing with the abusive notions that others taught you.

Your challenge is to let those lies go. Your challenge is to face any internalized fat-phobia you have and get rid of it.

Your challenge is to adopt an attitude that says, "I don't need your permission to stop abusing myself. I don't need your permission to retain my dignity and nurture my self esteem."

Your challenge is to find those things about you that you appreciate. I don’t care if you have 1,000 pounds of fat wrapped around you, you are a human being! ...A glorious human being worthy of honor, and joy, and love, and hope.

You must learn to be nicer to yourself than others have been to you. You must love yourself, because you will take care of something you love and you won’t take good care of something you hate. You must take good care of yourself because you deserve the best care, not because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t do it.

You must understand that all of your food is always guilt-free and always has been.

It is time for you to be guilt-free, too.
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