Lifestyle / Opinion

Permission granted to eat as much as you want today

It’s safe to say that back in the Stone Age there was no such thing as a diet. What do you think our ancestors did when they finally had access to food after a prolonged period of famine? The obvious answer is that they’d eat as much as they could because no one knew when the next meal would be. Eating more often when perceiving danger to stock up on energy seems like the most natural thing to do, because food is absolutely necessary for them to survive and evolve into the way that we are today. Did any of our ancestors care about having a “summer body”? Most probably not.

Even though our societal values have changed dramatically through millions of years of evolution, our physiology and psychology hasn’t, at least not that much. In fact, empty shelves during the Covid-19 pandemic can still trigger a scarcity mindset. This, in turn, can make people feel a little out of control with food, especially for those who are somewhat disordered in their eating habits in the first place.

I hope that you can’t relate to this and that your relationship with food is still healthy, because the diet culture is using this time of quarantine to promote messages like “if you’re not dieting to maintain a certain body shape, then you’re lazy and you’re a loser.” I understand why these messages are so online right now, because the timing is perfect for influencers and diet companies to capitalize on our fear of weight gain and desire to be healthy: gyms are closed, there’s less access to diet foods, and the fear of contracting the virus is growing. However, just because the diet culture beliefs are spreading, doesn’t mean you have to follow them and go on diets that will never work in the long run.

 If you truly enjoy exercising, then follow the at-home workouts; if you want to have healthier food only because it fuels you up rather than for dieting purposes, then great, go have that salad; and if you want a donut for breakfast and just want to lie on your bed all day doing nothing — there’s no problem with that either. The ultimate purpose of trying to be healthy is to have a happy and fulfilling life, and during this pandemic, what better thing can you do to be happy other than just listening to what your body wants?

I want to acknowledge that it is human nature to follow the social norm (this, in fact, is another thing that our ancestors did to survive). It is normal to feel bad for eating more than usual on some days, for doing what is generally deemed “undisciplined.” Nonetheless, it is more than okay to gain weight during social distancing because it shows that your body is still functioning. It’s trying to protect you from dying from a famine.

Rejecting diet culture means taking back your life. Rather than controlling your body size, you can spend that time on more meaningful things like learning languages, having long conversations with friends, sleeping in and waking up for brunches…

Long story short, besides shrinking your body, do whatever you want during this pandemic.

Image source: UC Davis Integrative Medicine.

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