Let's Be Honest: Food Shaming
This is one of those posts that I've thought about writing and publishing for quite a while, I've just been too nervous and have held back out of keeping personal things personal and not wanting to have a pity-party for myself. I think I have finally hit "publish" because this topic isn't talked about very often and it 100% should be.
I am food shamed regularly.
What is food shaming you ask? Food shaming is when someone criticizes another person for eating something that doesn't match his or her own definition of what kind of food is healthy or "good". For example, if you would like to have a bowl of pasta for dinner, someone else may say something like, "oh, you are going to eat that?" or "are you sure you wouldn't just like a salad instead?" Food shaming doesn't have to be straight up mean, it is usually subtle comments that make one feel uncomfortable about their food choices.
For some personal background, I suffered from high anxiety at a young age when my parents were going through a divorce. I lived everyday in fear that I was going to be left and forgotten by my parents, even though I came from a very loving family. Along with the anxiety came hardships with eating and digesting my meals everyday and I eventually became extremely thin for a girl who was not even 12-years-old yet. After countless therapists and nutritionists I finally worked through my anxiety and became myself again, just with some added baggage. I put healthy weight back on and was living life like any other pre-teen, until I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting at age 14-15. This is when the yo-yo dieting and food shaming first started setting in and I felt like I was being watched and judged for what I was consuming almost everyday.
Have you ever felt eyes on you while eating or cooking a meal for yourself? Have you ever felt the need to hide certain foods from others so that they don't see you eating it? Have you ever been told, "Wow! What a hefty meal. That must be for your breakfast and your lunch, right?" Have you ever had the suggestion of not eating the crust of a pie because of the calories? The crust is the best part...am I right!? I've gone through years and years of these comments and I have just recently realized that food shaming is even a term.
Now, I am not here to throw a pity-party for myself. I'm not here to throw shame on a specific person. Again, part of me wasn't even sure I'd want to post something like this. However, I have built myself to be an extremely strong person after years of this behavior because that's all I could do. I started building this wall around me to protect myself against this being that has made me feel like scum at times for what I choose to feed myself. I am clearly food shamed because of someone else's idea of what I should look like. Period. They feel strongly about what a person's body should look like and more specifically what my body should look like. But the fact is that I am my own person, I have my own build and I am one of a kind. I do not have a high metabolism, I gain weight easily and I have to work my ass off everyday to maintain a healthy mindset and lifestyle so that I can look a certain way, if that is what I want.
Since focusing more on my overall health in the beginning of 2020 I've, yes, shed some pounds, but I've also gained insight for what it means to truly feel and be healthy from the inside-out. I've learned to surround myself with a team of friends, family members, and health professionals who support me to maintain a healthier and more intentional lifestyle. The types of people who come on walks or hikes with me, who give me tips and information about new nutrition discoveries, recipe ideas, workout buddies, and even those who will just sit on the couch and have a glass of wine and a pizza with me.
So you may be asking, "Kimmy, why do you keep people in your life that shame you?" The answer to that is too tricky and complicated. Usually I am the type to say "See ya later, sucker! I don't need that negative energy in my life!" But, I've thought about certain relationships for years trying to see things from their perspective, coming up ways to protect myself from their ideas and comments, etc...but I unfortunately cannot change who they are as a person and how they think. I can try. And I feel like I've tried before, but I'm not sure it will ever completely stick. While I still have anxiety around certain people, I am confident in how strong I am now. I have come up with techniques to shrug off others' comments and say to myself, "YOU DO YOU BOOBOO! YOU EAT ALL THOSE TACOS, BABY!" Because life is too short to dwell on every single thing that I put in my mouth, I know that my own health and happiness is all that truly matters.
If you are someone who is dealing with a similar situation, please remember that you, your life, your heart, and your body matter. We will always have people doubting our way of life, but WE know what makes us happy and what we deserve.
I am on a mission to start more conversations about food shaming and positive body image. It truly affects so many people then we are aware of.
What I want to know: Are you in a similar situation? What are some techniques that you use to shut those other voices away and keep getting stronger?