A few weeks ago, I was at Whole Foods stocking up on snacks before a retreat in North Carolina, and I grabbed a bag of popcorn with the words “no cheese, cheesiness” printed on it. “Perfect!” I thought. I love popcorn. And while I also love cheese, I needed to eat less of it in that moment because I was recovering from a cold and it really ramps up my mucus production. It wasn’t until later, when I got out the bag of popcorn and really began looking at it that I noticed the branding.
Brand name: Lesser Evil. Tagline: Sinful taste, clean snacks.
I felt a surge of anger. “What the fuck, lesser evil?!” I thought to myself. It’s not that I have anything against healthful snacks–and in fact, the popcorn was delicious–yet this kind of branding really bothers me. Why? I feel it demonizes food and reinforces a societal script that what we put into our bodies is a moral issue. Not sure know what I’m talking about? The sad truth is, we see and hear food tied up in our morality all over the place…it shows up like:
- Food is the enemy
- Food is “good for you” or “bad for you”
- I get to have a “cheat” day or I “cheated” on my food plan
- Food is sinfully delicious
- Food is evil
- I am bad because I ate this or that food item
- I am a good girl because I ate perfectly today
- This food is “guilt free”
The list goes on and on.
The thing is…food is not a moral issue. The food we eat is not inherently good or bad (nor does it make us inherently good or bad), it’s neutral. Each food item is charged by a “certain amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree celsius”, hence a calorie. Sure, some food items are more nutrient dense than others, and certain foods may be more in alignment with our overall vitality and well being, yet there is no food that is “good” or “bad.”
Why does any of this matter?
Because if we’re stuck in a conversation about whether we’re “good” or “bad,” it prevents us from being in the even more important conversation about what truly supports our essential nature. It limits what’s possible for us…keeps us striving to meet an ideal that lives entirely outside ourselves. An ideal that pulls us further and further away from our own center, and our own internal knowing of Self. It takes us away from an essential listening within, that already knows what is resonant and what’s not.
For me, it has taken a lot of deep work and introspection to shift my conversation of being “good” or “bad” based on what I am putting into my body. I spent the first 20ish years of my life believing that if I just got it “right” in terms of how I was “supposed” to be (about food, how I looked, how I acted, how I exercised, and on and on), everything would be okay. The impact of living that way was nearly losing my life to an eating disorder, feeling disconnected from my inner wisdom, and slowly getting to discover and explore my way back to knowing what’s truly best for me, regardless of what anyone outside me does or says or thinks.
This week, I’m inviting you to get curious. Which of your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes around food have been shaped by society’s scripts? Where do you find yourself relating to certain things as good or bad, and thus imposing where you’re good or bad onto yourself? What impact does it have on you if/when you perceive that you’ve eaten something “bad”?
My deepest intention isn’t to demonize this type marketing that plays into the ways we outsource our validation. Rather, it’s to invite you to live a life that is fully self-generated. If you were to create a new relationship with food (or insert what it is you’re outsourcing your sense of self in), what would you create? What would it feel like to eat/be in a way that supports your essential nature? What does your body really want, outside what you’ve been told? Notice this week where you find yourself saying, “That’s just the way life is…” Bring a friendly curiosity to that and see what comes up.
In love and support,