“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” ~ Erma Bombeck
On Thursday while I was at work I ate a sausage sandwich for breakfast, some chorizo and tomato soup and a chocolate bar for lunch, and a packet of ready salted crisps later in the afternoon.
On Friday while I was at work I ate a sausage sandwich for breakfast, a jacket potato with baked beans for lunch, and most of a packet of skittles later in the afternoon.
Thursday and Friday were the only days that I worked, I was off with flu the rest of the week.
I spent both afternoons listening to a chorus of women, and it’s always the women, remarking incredulously on how ‘you don’t feel guilty about eating that at all do you?’
No. No, I do not.
It has never once in my life occurred to me to feel guilty about eating food.
I don’t consider eating in and of itself to be a moral act.
I mean, I think it’s important to try to be aware of where my food came from and how it was produced. I try as much as possible to buy my meat from local butchers who know the farms that supply them and can verify the conditions the animals were raised in.
Although sometimes I just don’t have time to get to the butchers while they’re open and I end up buying from supermarkets instead; and sometimes those supermarkets are Tesco supermarkets, so I could realistically be eating pretty much anything. And, well, sausages.
I feel a bit bad about that.
I try to be aware of the air miles of the fruit and vegetables I buy; but then I can never decide which is better or worse between only eating things that are in season and locally grown, which is probably better for the environment, and supporting farmers for whom the export market is their livelihood. And I keep meaning to take the time to read and learn enough to make a properly informed opinion one way or the other but then there’s always something else that I ‘ought’ to be doing as well.
So I feel a little bit guilty about that.
I don’t do nearly enough about the fact that there are other people in the world who don’t have enough food options to have the luxury of worrying about the above. People who just don’t have enough food full stop.
That’s something I ought to make more time for but haven’t so far and I feel more than a little bit guilty about that.
But the simple act of consumption food; why would anybody bother to feel guilty about that?
I’m not on a diet; I’m not trying to lose weight, and even if I was I wouldn’t go on a diet because all the evidence that I’ve seen suggests that dieting isn’t a healthy or effective way to go about it.
The weight-loss industry makes me very angry when I bother to think about it because it makes multi-billion dollar profits from exploiting people’s insecurities to sell them ‘solutions’ that don’t work. If they actually ‘worked’ people wouldn’t have to either stick to them forever or carry on repeating them ad nauseam, all the while continuing to pay more good money to whichever weight-loss club they’re signed up to.
But even if I was on a diet I wouldn’t waste my time feeling guilty about eating a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar – because, why? Because they have ‘too many’ calories in them I’m assuming?
Here’s everything that I know, or think I know, about calories: a calorie is a unit of energy; there are fewer calories in a stick of celery than you burn in the process of eating it; you burn roughly the same amount of calories in your sleep as there are in a Mars bar; there are 20 calories in a jelly baby; and calories are morally neutral.
No, what I’d do it that I’d eat them and then refrain from eating any more crisps or chocolate bars for the next few days, or the rest of the week, or however long it is that you’re supposed to keep up with the self-denial.
And save the guilt for actual things that are worthy of feeling guilty over; like snapping at someone because I’m over tired, or disrupting other people’s lives with my mental health problems, or forgetting to do that quite important thing that I said that I was going to do for someone within the period of time that I said that I was going to do it.
And don’t even get me started on how all these women came by the idea that we’re all under some kind of obligation to eat a certain way and to conform to a set of pre-determined feelings about our food on the basis of our gender.
Because I’m here to tell you, as someone who has been clinically diagnosed with a problematic excess of anxiety and an unhealthy lack of interest in my own longevity, that life is just too fucking short for anyone to be wasting their time feeling guilty about eating a chocolate bar.
*That’s a picture of what I had for dinner last night – it was AM-AZ-ING.