On an ordinary day, I went to join my friend for lunch. She had her packed lunch; I had mine (which, in case you were wondering, happened to consist of an orzo pasta salad). I popped open my good ol’ plastic container and started to dig in. A few bites in, one of her children asked suspiciously, “Are you on a diet?”
I looked at her.
I looked at my lunch.
“A diet? What makes you think I’m on a diet?” I asked confusedly.
“Because you’re always eating healthy,” replied the girl without a moment’s hesitation.
The thought had never crossed my mind…
I tried to explain to her that, no, I wasn’t on a diet and that I genuinely do like eating “healthy” food. She looked at me, satisfied that I gave her an answer, though I don’t know if she believed me.
As she walked away, I resisted the temptation to call her back and quick fire questions like:
- Why does eating healthily signify a grueling diet?
- Are vegetables so horrible that they should only be eaten when one is on a diet?
- How do you typically eat your vegetables? (If at all…)
and most importantly, for an eight year old:
- Why is the word ‘diet’ even in your vocabulary?!
It’s ironic, actually, the media tells us that ‘slim is healthy’ and ‘thin is beautiful’, while simultaneously the food industry is trying to convince us to eat, Eat, EAT!
But eat what?
I distinctly remember an advert on TV when I was growing up (or more like the jingle has been subconsciously emblazoned into my memory and tends to play on a loop in my head when it comes to mind) about little frozen pizzas on mini bagel-shaped bases. The clever advertisers made eating these bagel pizzas seem fun, convenient and healthy. So healthy, in fact, that they could be eaten at any point of the day… a nauseating thought!
A mental picture of the most obese of all children jumping (or in their case, barely bouncing) on trampolines comes to mind: fat jiggling in places it doesn’t belong on anyone (much less on a not-yet-fully-developed human being), unnaturally red tomato sauce and webs of cheese dribbling from plump greasy lips, hands fumbling to stuff even more of these artery-clogging time bombs into greedy overfull mouths…
Take that and run with it advertisers! Let’s see how your product sells now that your target audience (and their parents) can’t get the thought of morbid obesity out of their frontal lobes.
On the other hand… on the other end of the spectrum, there are those that are borderline anorexic and/or overly food conscious. Calorie counting and measuring quantities down to the last drop of fat-free milk consumed that day, cringing at the thought of a nice bloody steak that’s practically mooing on the plate… to all who fit in this category, I ask: what pleasure do you get from living? Eating purely for sustenance is just depressing; and considering all of us are using some sort of expensive electronic device to read this, I think it’s safe to assume that none of us are struggling to survive nutritionally.
Bottom line: the whole process of putting food onto the table is one to be celebrated (from shop to empty plate, every step is important); not to be over-analysed and abhorred. Feed yourself what you would be proud to serve others at a dinner party and be happy to eat food that’s been prepared to promote good health.
Sound like a reasonable enough middle ground?