I have a bone to pick with Instagram. You see, I love getting sucked into that social media app. I get lost in its ‘Explore’ section, looking at dozens of pictures, videos and feeds that fill it up. In particular, the food shots, because I love to eat and cook. But even my food feed is a mixed bag of visual content-there’s the rich food such as cakes, cookies, delicacies from my country, and then there’s the plate of raw broccoli wolfed down by sinewy, flawless-bodied gym gods and goddesses. But when I see that everyone is picking the latter, I feel like I’m the last kid to be picked in the gym class.
An average girl’s rant
You’re either here or there- nope, you can only have a slice of cake if it is gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free. It has all purpose flour in it? What are you, blind to the health risk you might have because of that? Come on, throw away the wheat bread- it has to be ‘whole grain’ bread. Even better, chuck any type of bread into the trash. Because, ‘unnecessary carbs’, you know.
If you’re not doing the low carb thing, you don’t have healthy eating habits. And the cheat meal you’re dreaming about for the weekend? Yeah, how about we call it a day with lettuce leaves instead of burger buns, no-potato-no-carrot hash brown patty and go low on the cheese? Potato fries… good joke. For dessert, have a small cup of fat-free ice cream that tastes like a hockey puck with some flavor added in.
I have done this, and I am left so unsatisfied. I don’t go for the haagen-daz or Ben & Jerry ice cream, because it has full-fat milk and sugar in it. And that’s a cardinal sin in the world of fitness, right?
You know ‘that’ tag? I hate ‘that’ tag.
There is one particular tag on Instagram that irks me- #cleaneating, that is how it goes. Right at this moment, there are 34,585,412 posts dedicated to this tag. Plates heaped with raw vegetables, calorie and macro breakdowns, bodies with almost no ounce of jiggly fat on them, a big red cross marked on anything remotely containing sugar- welcome to the world of #cleaneating.
You might find my irritation with this tag immature and possibly offensive, if you stand by that principle. I applaud you for your dedication, I honestly do. But for an average person like me, it is tiresome to follow the 90/10 rule. Here’s why I don’t use the tag and why I’m not fond of what it implies- it’s because it labels. It’s black or it’s white. It’s good or it’s bad. You can be a champion of clean eating, or you may look like a slob otherwise.
When did I get on this no-fun merry-go-round, and why did I ever do that?
Here’s a little background for that mega rant above. I have had a complicated relationship with my body since a few years now, and it is a process I’m trying to wean off of. Food was and is a very, very big aspect of this image dynamics. Till August this year, I thought I was winning that battle and was not dissatisfied with my health or fitness. But after I had a body composition exam done, my whole world flipped.
I won’t go into full details, but the results that I got were far from what I expected. I changed my diet completely, in order to skew my body composition to a more ideal standard, as defined by many fitness experts online. I restarted the obsessive calorie counting I was following three years back, and got sucked into it. I burnt myself out, physically and mentally, counting each gram of food that I ingested.
You know what makes me cringe, now that I think of it? My husband telling me this once, “I feel so sad, looking at you do this to yourself.” I flew into self-righteous rage when he told me this then, but I now understand what he is talking about. I kept on this tiresome journey, but a part of my happiness got lost somewhere along the way.
Food was causing me stress, and I started to even dislike many of the dishes I grew up eating. I started ignoring many vegetable and fruit varieties, because they had quite an amount of sugar and carbs hiding in there. I ate a toddler’s fistful of rice, because anything more than that would mean going over my carb limit. It has been months since I drank a cup of filter coffee, a traditional South Indian beverage I woke up to for 23 years of my life. Is having a less-than-ideal body composition the worst thing that can happen to me? What was I doing and where will I end up with this mental unhappiness? I needed to stop the madness.
What do I do now?
I’m tired of counting calories, the fats, the carbs and the protein. I’m tired of weighing every single item on the food scale, eating more processed food because it fits better in the macro scheme. I’m tired of the ‘spinach is good’ vs ‘skip the potatoes’ spin. Do we have to label food as good or bad? Is it wrong to like eating carbs, vegetable and non-vegetable kind?
I grew up on a staple of white rice, and enjoyed eating some delicious homemade fried goodies too. But now, every time I even thinking of eating something in that category, I subconsciously have started judging the food myself. My attitude towards food has morphed into a territory I feel is unhealthy, made worse by the macro tracking I was doing. And #cleaneating is a trigger for me, to make me anxious about eating even a potato.
- I don’t blame anyone for what I go through, but I am wondering a lot about labeling food this way. I know that I’m coming unhinged, and I want to stop that.
- I haven’t been counting my nutritional information for almost a week now. I haven’t labeled anything as good or bad, clean or unhealthy.
- I have been eating more of vegetables, any kind that I want to eat. I eat chocolate if I feel like it, and nope, it isn’t sugar-free. I want to heal my relationship with food, treat myself to what my body craves. I want that freedom with food, not to detest it.
And that to me, has come with learning to not label food. I feel alive and good after a long time. ‘Its okay,’ I tell myself now, ‘it’s okay to eat that piece of cake.’ And then, I let it crumble in my mouth and I smile. I’m learning to heal.
NOTE: What doesn’t work for me, might work well for you. No negativity intended in this post; it is just my opinion based on my experiences. I still do apologize if I may have hurt anyone’s feelings in any way.
Thank you for reading, if you have come this far! Do you relate to what I’ve written/ranted about? Please do let me know in the comments section below. 🙂
Until next time, see you soon.