Food for thought

Photo: 

You are what you eat.

That’s probably what your mother told you as a child so you would eat your veggies, but think about it: our physical bodies are, quite literally, the re-construction of the elements that we consume.

A few months ago, I offered a close friend a snack. Before even tasting it, she wanted to know how many calories were in it. I waited as she meticulously studied the label.

She eventually took a tiny piece. “I’m terrified of calories,” she explained, logging her intake into an app on her phone.

It was an offhand comment, but it stuck in my mind. When did we, as humans, begin viewing food as a threat rather than a means of survival?

I began to worry about my friend, and truth be told, I still do.

Yet I find myself hesitant to voice my concerns. For many of us, food is an incredibly emotional and sensitive topic. That piece of cake is more than sugar, butter and flour; it can be a treat, a source of guilt, part of a tradition or a childhood memory.

We seem to have this bizarre dichotomy in our culture: on one hand, nutrition labels allow us to be more aware than ever of the composition of our foods. Yet we seem strangely apathetic to the myriad of unpronounceable ingredients within the packaging.

Think of diet foods, with ingredients like “neotame” or “acesulfame potassium” used as artificial sweeteners. Do you really want to be putting something that sounds like part of a science experiment into your body?

But most of these snacks come prepackaged in seemingly benign portions. I mean, if it’s only 100 calories, it can’t hurt you ... right?

It’s ironic because, in trying to keep ourselves healthy, many of us develop an extremely unhealthy mindset. By reducing foods into calories and grams of fat, we begin to view them as numbers and not as fuel.

With the increased prevalence of eating disorders in recent years, it’s time we take a critical look at our relationship with food.

Relationships can be complicated, and are more difficult for some than others. But they are worth putting some time into — both your mind and your body will thank you for it.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.