By Kelsey Klepper
Eating in the “name of health” looks the same yet different for everyone. Why is this? The majority of people have good food / bad food labels on what they are eating (thanks diet culture), but not everyone has the same food rules. For example, you may label all bread as bad, but I may only label bread as bad if it’s not whole wheat (I don’t by the way). Generally, eating in the name of health does not honor your food preferences and does not honor your hunger and fullness.
Some real examples of what eating in the name of health looked like for me:
- Chose the plain green beans because it seemed like the right choice even though I wanted the green beans with butter
- Masked my hunger with low calorie fluids (coffee, water, diet soda, etc.) because it wasn’t “time” to eat yet
- Only allowed myself one serving at dinner even though I was still hungry after that serving
- Did not allow myself to eat the dessert at celebrations, or anytime really, because sugar is deemed the worst
- Chose the salad with no cheese, no croutons, and used hot sauce as my dressing when I wanted the cheese, croutons, and ranch with the hot sauce
- Skipped breakfast or ate minimally regardless of my hunger because I knew I would be eating out later on that day
- Chose my sub toppings based on calorie and fat – never allowed myself mayo, bacon or ranch – always opted for the mustard and veggies – never really enjoyed a sandwich
When we choose foods based on rules due to diet culture, we end up not being truly satisfied with our meals and snacks. This then causes us to eat more later on. Typically, just feeling full from a meal won’t keep us from wanting more. We need to also feel satisfied from that meal which means choosing foods based on OUR own individual preferences not the diet rules.
Eating is supposed to be pleasurable. It may not be every single time you eat; there’s circumstances when it may not be due to finances, time, and accessibility. I do understand that. But when we are eating in the name of health, we aren’t truly honoring our preferences and therefore are not finding pleasure and satisfaction in the eating experience. Likewise, when we choose how much we eat based on the diet culture rules, we may not actually be eating until we’re full or we may be masking our hunger.
Diet culture makes us believe we have to put rules in front of our food preferences. We are enjoying our food less and restricting what and how much our body truly needs. When restricting in these ways, the vast majority of our bodies will inevitably break the deprivation stint and binge on what it wants. If we honored its preferences, hunger, and fullness in the first place, the binging would go to the wayside because we’ve regularly found pleasure and satisfaction in the eating experience.
17All their days they eat in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger. 18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot” (Ecclesiastes 5: 17-18).
God wants us to enjoy what we’re eating. He designed us this way. He knows eating for pleasure brings satisfaction, which in turn is taking care of our health. I can guarantee that eating from a place of satisfaction and honoring your hunger and fullness will optimize your health more than any rules and restriction will. I’m talking about optimizing your WHOLE health – mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Less rules, more living and more joy.
Challenge: When you go out to eat this week, choose what truly sounds good to you in that moment and enjoy it. If a salad sounds good, get it. If you want to eat a burger, do that. If ordering a dessert for an appetizer is what you want, you get that dessert.