Food equity and nutrition are always hot topics in the cultural conversation and there’s constantly conflict regarding food deserts and the lack of access to fresh and nutritious foods, especially now that most of us occupy the social media space. I constantly see toxic, and inaccurate, representations of food costs, nutrition density, and the supremacist shaming of people who don’t fit the predominant food culture of White America. So-called fitness and diet “influencers” share memes that compare the nutritional value and cost of a Big Mac meal from McDonalds to a bunch of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and lean proteins one can buy at a grocery store with captions like “bUt iT’s ExPeNsiVe To EaT hEaLtHy” despite not taking into account the mitigating circumstances – accessibility, transport costs, prep time, etc. that goes into the ability to consume healthy meals depicted in “infographics”
Anyway, this blog is gonna be about food, nutrition, and body image. Food and body image shame is, and always has been, excessively prevalent in modern society and everyone has their different experiences with that part of our culture, just like how everyone has different experiences within their own body. Since I don’t intend to speak for anybody else on this matter, I will speak to my experience.
First, here’s a gross story from a Twitter thread I did a few weeks back: I used to eat a bag of Chili Cheese Fritos with a chocolate donut for breakfast every day during (I think) my junior year in high school. I would workout first period, then second period I TA’d for the theater teacher (who we also played D&D with) and I would just suck these down. When I first got my license and could drive myself to school, I’d stop at a gas station on the way and buy a pack of Zingers and a Mountain Dew for breakfast. This was also around the time that I consistently just kept a two liter of Mountain Dew in my locker and/or carried around one of those giant trucker mugs full of the stuff. There was a convenience store in my town that sold 64 oz fountain sodas for $0.89 so I’d refill my mug every few days.
Somewhat related, my dad had a friend who was probably pushing 350-400 lbs & I would mimic his eating habits when I was about 13-14. He and I would go to McDonalds and each of us would eat two Big Macs in one meal.
I didn’t learn about nutrition until I started wrestling, so I used to literally just eat whatever. Despite all that, I’ve been a pretty consistent 190lbs since high school. There was a short period in college where I bumped up to 205lbs, but I dropped back down once I graduated. And honestly, this “heavier” period in college was also around the time I became a vegetarian. That lasted for almost two years and I would pretty much eat just carbs because again, I knew nothing about nutrition. I would have ramen, breads, cheese quesadillas with refried beans, and Taco Bell (sub beans for meat) and I thought I was being healthy because I wasn’t eating meat. Silly, silly college Nick.
That’s all pretty in line with what I learned about food growing up. My parents also never knew anything about nutrition, other than the basic Monsanto and Regan food propaganda that they were fed for 30 years between 1950 and 1980. They were also very busy when I was a kid and my grandma actually worked at McDonald’s when I was a wee lad, so I ate a lot of fast food, and when it wasn’t that we would still have a lot of cheap, easy meals – ramen, PB&J, cheese & crackers, pancakes from a mix, frozen dinners, etc. I think both of my parents grew up fairly poor and food insecure, so they just maintained the eating habits of “get the calories you can, when you can” and passed that onto me, despite us being very well off by the time I was a teenager.
The point I ended up landing on in that initial Twitter thread was that the culture of obsessing over weight is a toxic social construct. I consistently ate trash until about 7 years ago but my weight has pretty much always stayed consistent, despite my body & diet drastically changing. it’s important to be realistic about one’s body, including shedding the idea that weight defines health, self-worth or social status. And that’s all true and good, but I don’t think it’s where I want to wrap up here.
I think the thing I want to leave on is that I still struggle with my relationship with food a lot. I go back and forth between viewing it exclusively as a means to an end, simply as fuel for the body and seeing it as a treat or something that I use for comfort. I don’t drink or anything and I gave up energy drinks a couple months ago, so I drown my sorrow in donuts, celebrate successes with pizza, and quell anxiety-driven indigestion with lots of carbs. Heck, my partner and I just discussed how food is a big part of our love language, in two different capacities – as a source of nourishment to help each other get through the week or as a treat to make the other happy. Food, nutrition, and our relationship to both are complex. We all have different experiences with food – some positive and some negative – but it’s something that we literally need to survive, so it’s not like we can just ‘quit’ in so many terms. So I’ll keep trying to make thoughtful, hopefully constructive, progress with my food relationship, and I hope you will too.
Thanks for reading.
THE WORLD IS YOUR BURRITO!
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