We eat food to stay alive. To fuel our bodies. Right? But food and food trends have become so much more than that. Today we eat politically and we follow strict diets. We worry about carbs, starchiness, if the fat is saturated or not, if the pig was a happy or sad, and if the apple is local or imported from the other side of the planet.
I’ve had my vegetarian period. These days, I think it’s hard to find a young woman who hasn’t. After reading Jonathan Safran Foers “Eating animals”, I couldn’t touch meat for six months. His description of how meat is produced in industrial farming, completely put me off my beloved steaks and sausages.
I became “that person”. The utterly annoying, self-righteous, newly vegetarian, who feels amazing about their decision not to eat meat. And who constantly sneaks in comments to friends and family about how their meat was produced, or how environmentally damaging meat farming is.
Not to say that all vegetarians are like that. Not at all. I have several friends who manage to be vegetarian, without wearing the judgmental vegetarian-hat. All I’m saying is that I was “that person”. And of course – my love for meat came back. When I started to forget what was on the pages of the book, I started to remember how much I appreciate a juicy burger or crispy bacon on a Sunday morning. I try to convince myself that I’ll quit meat one day. When I finally develop the stamina for that kind of thing.
Why do we diet?
I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two motivations behind dietary decisions. The one based on a wish to preserve or respect nature. And the one based on a wish to obtain a certain body or be healthy and wholesome. You have your vegetarians, pescatarians (people who only eat fish and seafood) and vegans. And then there are raw-vegans who don’t eat anything cooked at a temperature above 48 °C (118 °F), and fruitarians who only eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds that naturally fall from a plant or tree and can be harvested without killing or harming the plant
Then you have your Paleo eaters, who eat like humans did in the Stone-age, based on the notion that human genetics haven’t changed that much since. No bread, dairy or sugar, but lots and lots of meat. Perfect for the ”cross-fitting”, protein-hungry, modern-day man – but horrible for the environment.
Most of all I guess we diet to feel good about ourselves. In one way or the other. I’ve heard that if you wanna look like Beyonce (and who wouldn’t?) you should try ”The Def Jam Diet” – also called ”The Master Cleanse”. For a couple of weeks your diet consists of a maple syrup and lemon drink, spiced with cayenne pepper or ginger.
And yes – I would love to look like Beyonce. But I would literally die or kill someone, if all I could ”eat” for two weeks was lemonade. When my blood sugar goes down, I tend to become… grumpy. At best. ”Angry” might be more fitting.
This also rules out the option of intermittent fasting, where you fast several days a week. It is supposed to be extremely effective in terms of weight loss, and will make you live a longer, healthier life. But how good does it do, if you have to spend three out of four days a week as a carb-craving ogre, whose sole mission is to destroy all joy around you.
To eat, or not to eat
For me, the best thing is probably to eat healthy and balanced diet, keep my blood sugar up, and try not to worry about the fact that I will never have Beyonce’s body. Because worrying too much about that can have detrimental consequences. Reflecting over food trends made me realize, that I hardly have any girlfriends who haven’t struggled with some kind of eating disorder at some point in their life. My sister has been anorexic, my friend from high school is bulimic, and a couple of months ago I interviewed an 18-year old man who almost died from not eating. He worked as a model and fashion blogger, and couldn’t handle the pressure from the industry.
There is no denying that food is fuel. But the way you eat can also be a way of taking a stand, a way of achieving certain goals, a way of staying happy, or a way to loose yourself.
Pandeia Culture takes a look a food and food trends. You can read about the delightful concept of “Restaurant Day” in Finland, about veganism and the prejudices vegans encounter, and get helpful advice on how to eat well on a student budget. Have a read an feel free to comment.
Words: Anja Pil Christoffersen