Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thinking about indulgence

I've recently been doing some thinking about the way I use sweets. I say "use" because I'm convinced that the way we think about indulgence as associated with being "naughty" or breaking "diet rules" is inherently part of a cultural discourse of about "fat" and "skinny" more than about our actual bodies. 

I'm definitely part of this "we." I count calories, pay attention to nutrition facts. I feel bad when I eat ice cream or go out for a big burger. But what I've notice and what frustrates me is, as a person who is fit and doesn't need to necessarily watch my weight right now, the bombardment of health consciousness that we find in the news, magazines, and television nevertheless makes me feel bad about indulging. And I think this is having a bit of a backfire effect.

When I flip through my Pinterest or look at a menu, I can't help but get that giddy feeling when I see something so decadent, so indulgent that part of me genuinely thinks I could never have it. The part of me that enjoys fitness magazines and diet tip blogs and gets jealous of models--that part is saying "I'm not the kind of person that could even enjoy a thing like that!" But i know that's probably not true. The more realistic thing to say is "You might feels so guilty about that that it's not going to be worth it..." But when confronted with a pint of Ben & Jerry's, or a tub or nutella, it's hard not to feel oh, so good about being oh sooo bad. I call it the "forbidden fruit" phenom. All this thought about NOT eating stuff has made us that much more fascinated with it. Food fantasy, food porn...there's a lot of metaphors to get after the "fat foodie" culture we've developed, but I've tried to break it down a little more whollistically. 

1) The Foodie personality: the unabashed food lover who probably blogs, photographs, and likes to refer to eating as an "experience". Food is glamorous, critiqued, and a source of daily excitement. Thing about foodies is that they are rarely fatties...and those that post the most fantastic cupcakes and luscious pies tend to be reasonably thin. These people seem to be practitioners of the so-called French philosophy--that if you take time to enjoy your food then it doesn't matter so much what you eat because you'll naturally eat less, of stop at your natural satisfaction point and stay at a healthy weight. Food obsession turned diet trick...sounds like the best of both worlds? 

2) The Cheat Sheet-er: the offshoot of the Foodie that recognizes food is not always glitz and glam. Kitchens are messy, frozen foods beckon, take-out runs rampant...the food jungle is a dangerous place indeed! These people find ways to tackle cravings by substituting dairy froyo with a mashed frozen banana and cocoa powder mixture (ehem...look at that "zucchini ravioli"). They substitute baked zucchini and sweet potatoes for potato chips and french fries. They turn gourmet into everyday and take ravishing instagram photos of their creations to make us think we can do it too! Which, perhaps we can, or at least take a page from their books (blogs, more likely). The problem with cheat sheeting, though, is that you still can't forget that what you're doing is making alterations, adjustments, and substitutions to satisfy a craving for something you've decided you shouldn't have (and which would, honestly, be easier to make or buy). This is an integral part of the culture of abstaining from fattiness (different from fat abstinence because, as magazines can tell you, some fat is actually healthy). It's part of the narrative of not being a fat personality that makes this type of lifestyle seem so attractive. 

3) The Diet Blogger: the ones who have reformed or are trying to reform their fattiness...sounds harsh, but it's true. Social dieting is a powerful type of motivating tool to help people stay connected with their goals when it comes to health. But, these often include individuals who speak from their own experience only and relatively few actual credentials. Nevertheless, you have to applaude people's efforts to put themselves out there and make a life change. So where did we end up? From all of this I've decided to design my own diet philosophy that combines a bit of everything... See Phoodosophy

No comments:

Post a Comment