Drinking wine isn’t naughty, that cheese won’t ruin your #bodygoals, and those free chocolates aren’t there to spoil your day. So please, can we stop the diet shaming? It’s not very festive.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
A month (or two nowadays, let’s be honest) where we have access to an abundance of delicious foods, drinks and tacky festive products designed for no other reason than to delight us when we consume them. The coffee shop chains reveal their cosy Christmas coffee flavours, swirled with syrup and piled high with fluffy cream. Food retailers unveil shelves of delicious lunch time treats only available in the coldest months. Mince pies dust themselves off to shimmer on supermarket shelves again. Boxes of chocolates are in every building, and your mum has probably got a few more biscuits in the house.
Sadly however, as with everything in life, wherever happiness shines, some ugly thing is lurking in the background ready to ruin it at any given opportunity. No, I’m not just talking about that time I got food poisoning on boxing day. Let’s not go there.
I’m talking about diet shaming. The practice of berating someone else’s, or even your own, dietary choices in the name of “health” and conformity.
So many of us are guilty of diet shaming without even knowing it, both to others and ourselves. Calling our crisps a guilty pleasure, our bread and potatoes bad, branding our after-lunch chocolates naughty, and already planning our tedious and ineffective January diets.
When did we all get so bloody boring?
There is absolutely no shame in enjoying your food. Food is fuel, first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be delicious. And yes, most things require a little bit of fat and/or sugar to taste delicious, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it.
Before you leave me a mean comment telling me that I’m encouraging a further obesity epidemic, which has happened before, just calm down bro. Obviously I advocate the variety and existence of options for all diets and tastes, “healthy” or not. I just don’t want anybody telling anybody else what they should or shouldn’t eat, when most of the time they aren’t even qualified to do so! Even if you have been told by a medical professional to watch what you eat, most shops and retailers provide smaller versions of all our festive treats nowadays anyway, so you can treat yourself without feeling restricted or unsatisfied!
Christmas of past was a time for feasting, celebration and merriment, as most religious festivals are. Nowadays, every delicious food we can buy has some article stapled to it, telling us that it’s going to KILL US. For example, every single year we get the same dull articles on the nutritional content of limited edition food and drink from some really exciting and happy journalist.
DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH SUGAR IS IN YOUR CHRISTMAS COFFEE??
WHICH CHRISTMAS SANDWICH WILL KILL YOU FASTEST??
Who cares? Like seriously, who actually cares?
Either way, is being fat or being unhealthy the worst thing a person can be?
Imagine this kind of behaviour in any other scenario. You wouldn’t open someone’s car door and tell them that driving is the leading cause of car crashes. You wouldn’t interrupt Strictly Come Dancing to inform the contestants that they are at risk of pulling a muscle. You wouldn’t tell your newlywed family member that all that sex they are having can carry the risk of STI transmission. Exactly.
Unless you are a doctor, other people’s health is none of your concern. And unless you are a qualified dietician, you probably don’t really know what you’re talking about anyway.
Nobody is drinking extra-large gingerbread lattes with whipped cream with every meal, nobody is eating mince pies like Skittles, and nobody is having a full Christmas dinner in their lunchbox at work all month. Plus, even if they were, it’s none of your damn business anyway, so who cares?
Most of us are extremely fortunate in having access to such wonderful foods and drinks, and having the disposable income in order to enjoy it. Why ruin it by inflicting this pointless guilt on yourself, or on others? Eating the delicious foods that you fancy at this time of year, or any, does not make you, or anyone else, “naughty”, “bad”, or a “fatty.” What people want to eat is up to them, and it only makes sense to enjoy our eating to the full at such a lovely time of year.
For the sake of your own sanity and others: stop talking about dieting and weight loss in your workplace, stop commenting on other people’s weight, and stop equating weight with overall health. Weight loss chat is undoubtedly THE most boring chat in the world. No one gives a shit about your diet plans or the personal trainer you have lined up for the start of next year. Talk about something interesting instead, like how bloody delicious that Christmas sandwich was at lunch time.
If you’re going to talk about food, talk about how it tastes rather than how “awful” you are for enjoying something that isn’t kale.
You may not realise it, but by discussing how “disgusting” your weight or your diet or exercise regime is, in front of other people who didn’t want to be involved in such a conversation, you could be bringing up all sorts of horrible feelings. People with or recovered from eating disorders, people with past weight issues, people with disabilities and just anyone who wishes to remain ignorant to the nutritional contents of their lunch, may be rather unhappy to hear about such banal problems. Consider that before you start diet shaming or talking about your appearance, or anyone else’s appearance, as if it is the be-all and end-all of human existence.
Winter is bloody cold in the UK. It is not a time for fresh salads and light dinners, it’s a time for stodge, and cosy comfort in our filling dinners. It’s a time when you see your family and friends more often, and want to enjoy the pleasure of eating big meals together. It’s no time to be diet shaming and discussing how you fit the beauty ideals of Western society. Don’t feel guilty about feeling full or about enjoying the food you just ate.
Enjoy the free chocolates, savour that second mince pie, save room for your favourite dessert, buy that Starbucks coffee you keep seeing ads for, and for Pete’s sake, don’t say no to the Pigs in Blankets. Your happiness should always be more important that how you look to others.
Watching your weight this festive season is unlikely to make you any happier, no matter what size you are right now. And that January diet? More on that here.
On that note though, if you have been advised to, or you truly want to lose weight to achieve a healthier you, I wouldn’t discourage that. Just don’t make yourself or others miserable in pursuit of that. Enjoy your food free from guilt, whether it’s a parsnip, or a pie.
Spend time with your loved ones, and do and eat all the things you want. Do it free from the judgment of yourself and from others.
Diet shaming is dull and pointless. You are not.