The Morality of Eating: Why are you Eating?

Posted: March 23, 2015 in Diet
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I want to talk about something that has been bothering me and that is the moralizing of eating. Not food (that is a different issue), but eating itself. This comes up in terms of the “why are you eating?” pieces of advice around identifying if you are hungry or bored or stressed or sad or eating for any reason other than physical hunger. And let me be clear that I have no problem with this topic or advice on understanding why we eat or crave certain things in and of itself.  What bothers me is simply when this is treated as if we all have some moral imperative to only eat when physically hungry. That it is some sort of sin to eat for any other reason. And that, I do disagree with.

I am all about understanding our relationships with food, understanding why we eat, why we crave certain things, and just all around being better in touch with our bodies and minds. I talked before in my post on intuitive eating that I tend to crave sugary drinks if I get dehydrated and that is really just me being dehydrated and what I really need is water (though I could get this through either plain water or other drinks). Along a similar line I’m all about understanding why I am hungry or craving any particular thing at that time. I think the more in touch we are with our bodies and minds the messages they send us the better off we are.

I also believe very strongly in my life in prioritizing what my time, energy, and mental focus. And I’ve talked a lot here before about how fitness is not my top priority in life, and neither is eating or my body size or any of that.

This means, that sometimes what I’m eating or why I’m eating is not my priority at that time. And I for one am done feeling ashamed of that. I stress eat sometimes. And I know that it’s because of stress, but it also takes energy and some mental focus to go through the “I just want cookies because I’m stressed, I’m not actually hungry” and resist eating the cookies. No, not a lot of energy or mental focus,  but when I’m rushing against a deadline to get a paper done, or proposal submitted on time, or anything else like that, my priority for all my energy and mental focus is on getting that done as well as possible on time. And that means, no, I’m not going to commit the mental resources to avoiding munching on some cookies while I do it. Because at the end of the day, not eating cookies is not that important to me. I don’t really give a damn if sometimes I eat cookies when I’m stressed. I do not think that is a moral failing, a character flaw, or some sort of sin.

And if eating some “junk food” when I’m stressed about getting something important done for a deadline is the reason I’m fat, I still don’t give a fuck. I’m still ok with the fact that I ate those cookies and I’m still ok with being fat.

  1. MTMS says:

    I love this! Thank you! You finally put words to the resentment I felt when reading all of the “why are you eating” or “eating when you are not truly hungry is bad” articles. Thinking about food, if I am hungry or not, and the ‘real’ reason for eating are not my priorities. I’m too busy living a life to worry about that crap all the time.

  2. ZeroToStars says:

    Great post. I think about this often. I’m now aware why I eat. Sometimes it’s an emotional reason. Sometimes it’s a biological craving. Sometimes my boredom tells me I gotta eat just to stay sane. Either way, I’m not bad. It’s not the end of the world, if I’m not thin. And to be honest, I don’t want to think about my level of hunger constantly and trying to figure out the perfect thing that will satisfy my hunger…it’s gets to be just as thought-consuming as dieting. I just want to be me!!! I want to be healthier, but not at the cost of my sanity. I also find that the less I demonize food, the less I care about it sometimes. This food stuff is so crazy, but I think it’s purpose is to show me how to value myself…no matter what size.

    Thanks for the writing this.

    • ebay313 says:

      Thanks for your comment, I think you hit too on a big difference between obsession and mindfulness. I think being mindful in life, including eating, is great, but that should be the exact opposite of obsession, anxiety, and about feeling bad (or good). By adding in the morality issue, where it’s about right and wrong, and being good or bad, it changes the focus and isn’t really about mindfulness anymore.

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