I don’t think of foods as healthy and unhealthy. Some foods are more nutrient dense. Peanut butter has more nutrients than celery, but that doesn’t mean one’s better than the other. They both have their uses. There are foods with different amounts of salt, sugar, fats, calories, additives, processed-ness. I like the idea that the foods meet different needs, for all sorts of people, at different times.
Babies, elders, athletes, people who are sick. People who are pregnant, nursing, grieving, taking antibiotics, healing from an injury, enduring withdrawal from drugs, recovering from illness, having a manic episode, doing extreme physical work, dying in hospice. So many different ways we might need to eat!
Not to mention cultural and religious food practices, or personal values. Famines, food deserts, poverty, epigenetics. People imprisoned who have very little choice about what they eat.
Is it true, that there are no healthy and unhealthy foods? Yes, I think so. Maybe it’s also fat liberation doctrine that I’ve internalized.
Thinking of foods as healthy and unhealthy is associated with guilt. I remember a long time ago, eating ice cream and feeling a tug of war inside of me. I thought, “This food is bad–I need to eat only a little bit.” But it was effective comfort, and I wanted a lot of it, every day. I needed way more comfort in my life, so make up for the harm I experienced.
The way ice cream was a food I considered unhealthy was in the air, common knowledge–I would call that diet culture, and it harmed me. It still harms me today.
Now I would think more like–do I have room for that food in my life? If I ate a fuckton of carbs with my dinner, maybe I shouldn’t have ice cream. I’m allowed a certain amount of veg, protein, carbs, and “treat food.” So maybe when people say unhealthy foods, they mean what I would call treat food.
There’s a concept of junk calories, like food that’s really dense in fat or sugar, but not with other benefits. Like sugary soda–what could the good be of that? Some disabled elders we live with have a hard time eating enough. So maybe soda could be good for them? I doubt it, but it could be possible.
Part of the problem is that most people have such simplistic views of how bodies work, and how fatness and calories work. It’s not a simple equation. The “move more, eat less” method of weight loss ignores whole swaths of physiology. The same amount of calories fed to two different people can have very different results.
I have health issues that complicate things, like the stomach ulcer three years ago. The food I eat is only one factor in my well-being, in flux with my stress level, and what’s going on in my life with physical activity, pain, illness.
My friend sent me this video about a fat dancer. I like seeing the dancing–yes, she is amazing. I wish I could dance like that!
I noticed when she said that it doesn’t matter how she looks on the outside–all that matters is that she’s healthy on the inside. My worldview is different. Worth is not determined by fatness, health, intelligence, skills, or anything else. All people are worthy of respect, and all bodies are valid bodies.