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  • Writer's pictureBrande Victorian

Please Stop Talking About Food

I hate the way women talk about food, better yet the way we explain the food we not only choose to eat but bought with our own hard-earned dollars.

It was at my first job after college that I realized this need among women to keep up appearances when it comes to our appetites. I'm guessing in college most of us were too broke to need to explain why we were eating from Wendy's $1 menu instead of indulging in an $8 veggie wrap, but somewhere around the time we start making "real money" and become independent women we become dependent on others' approval of how we dine.

I can't count the number of times I've gone out to lunch or happy hour with co-workers who insisted other people "please have some" or "take half" of their meal because they "couldn't possibly eat all that food" (that they ordered by themselves to consume by themselves before they became keenly away they weren't in fact by themselves). Or how many "I know I shouldn't but" caveats women felt the need to declare before ordering anything without the words grilled or salad in it. And then there were the verbal "I worked out this morning" justifications many verbalized just to set the record straight that they weren't a total slob because, of course, everyone was thinking that.

I used to think I only felt a way about these conversations because I was the big girl in the group and assumed people were judging my unwillingness to engage in their hunger games when I ordered whatever was fried with fries on the side regardless of their posturing. But I noticed when I was average size the discussions didn't change, nor did my reaction to them. In fact, I may have felt even more uncomfortable after losing weight because all eyes were on me to set the meal tone. If I ordered healthy, dining partners either felt the need to do the same or explain why they weren't. And if I indulged, I found I was even tempted to announce that I was treating myself instead of doing what grown people do: buy and eat what they want.

Here's the thing: You don't owe anyone an explanation of your food choices but yourself. Only you can say for sure if you have enough calories left in your daily bank to get sweet potato fries with your turkey burger or a side salad. Only you can say for sure whether you deserve dessert more than you owe it to yourself to keep your diet. Only you knows what your body wants and needs and the only responsibility that knowledge entails is to honor it. And guess what? Only you will be the one to enjoy the indulgence or agonize over it the next morning (which you shouldn't do anyway; it's one meal). Only you will have to go harder in the paint to work that food off the next morning or say to yourself, "wow that was a nice treat; I missed gelato." Whoever you ate dinner with is not going to get home and toss and turn all night because they can't stop thinking about the fact that you ate a slice of pizza. They probably didn't even really give a fuck about what you were eating at the dinner table when you announced your choice and they watched you devour it; they were just making conversation.

When I hear women constantly telling everyone what they "shouldn't have" eaten or "can't have" it makes me sad because rarely do those tales come from a place of wanting to be held accountable. The declarations are rooted in a need for approval, which is a trap many of us fall into in many different ways. And as someone who is repeatedly on the other side of that, it's uncomfortable to witness; not to mention ineffective. If you only make healthy choices for other people, you're essentially saying what they think about you is more important than what you think about yourself and how you treat your body. And you're also projecting that insecurity onto your fellow diner who was probably cool with whatever they were going to order until you started listing off all the things you shouldn't have but want and made them second guess their choice to keep up appearances too.

If you told your girl you need to drop 10 pounds by summer and want her to check you before you order a 1/2 slab of ribs with baked beans and cornbread, then by all means let her know what's going on in your head. But if you fucked up the elliptical at the gym this morning or are simply tired of eating grilled chicken seven days a week and want a damn burger, do you. You're the only one who has to deal with the consequences or who will feel the sense of satisfaction from the meal as you dine. If your taste buds and belly approve and you can look yourself in the mirror the next morning without shame that's all the approval that's needed. Leave me and everyone else out of it.

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