I’ve noticed something about people, since I’ve gotten pregnant.
They like to commend me on my lack of appetite for sweets. For those of you who know me personally, you understand precisely how bizarre a turn of events this is for me, and that it must be dictated by pregnancy hormones, because I would rarely pass up on the opportunity for dessert, or something sweet, no matter the reason, occasion or time of day.
People say what a Good Thing (TM) it is, that I don’t want a lot of sweet foods these days. They congratulate me, like it’s some sort of moral achievement or personal victory.
Newsflash: I’m just eating what my body tells me, just like I did before I got pregnant. It’s called Intuitive Eating, folks.
The problem that is tangled up with all this is the (erroneous) assumption that there are Good Foods (TM) and Bad Foods (TM). I can assure you, that from the standpoint of a pregnant woman’s stomach, the only bad foods are the ones that sound like they’d do a number on my digestion, i.e., foods that would not be the best choices for me at the moment.
That, however, is absolutely NOT what is meant by Good and Bad Foods (TM).
We have somehow come to this notion that foods have some sort of moral value. If it’s something you’d eat to try to lose weight, it’s Good (TM). If it’s something you’d be told to avoid on a diet, it’s Bad (TM).
Food doesn’t have moral value. It has nutritional value. Any food. Anything that your body can derive energy from (described as “calories”) is food, and if your body can fuel itself with it, then it’s got nutritional value.
I see, so often, in discussions of FA/HAES, this formulation when discussing Intuitive Eating or refuting the Good/Bad Food assumption:
“Sometimes I eat X, sometimes I eat Y.”
In these instances, the given value of X is “some food associated with good health and/or dieting” and the given value of Y is “some food associated with poor health and/or fat shaming”. I don’t think that FA advocates are missing the point when they use this phrasing — I think it’s an attempt to communicate with others who are still under the delusion that some foods are morally good while others are not*, when all that distinction is used for is trying to bully people who don’t fit the mainstream ideal “Thin” into complying, or to bully folks who DO fit the ideal into continuing to comply.
There’s something complicated in all this too — about keeping people in line, oppressed, although I can’t quite tease it out yet.
So, if I say, as I might in normal conversation, “I don’t really want any Y; I don’t have much of a sweet tooth these days” — that is precisely what I mean: Food Y doesn’t appeal to me at the moment, thanks. It has nothing to do with any moral value others may ascribe to Food Y, nor does it stem from any desire of mine except what my stomach dictates.
Believe me, I miss sweets. I can’t wait until half a cup of homemade pudding doesn’t give me heartburn, or the thought of chocolate cake doesn’t turn my stomach or simply not appeal at all. I take no particular delight, as others seem to expect me to, in the fact that I can’t enjoy the foods I loved before I was pregnant.
There is no “side benefit” to not wanting dessert. I don’t want to lose weight. I’ve long since given up on the dieting myths that say self-deprivation is the way to socially-accepted health status. My goal is my actual health — not some outside view of what that should look like.
This is Fat Acceptance. This is Health At Every Size. That I get to define, for myself, what healthy feels like, and do what I consider the best things to achieve and maintain that health. Weight is an arbitrary number, and size is not an automatic indicator of health. I’m more healthy now, because I listen to my body and do what it tells me it needs to do, than when I was starving myself in high school or trying to avoid the candy dish so as not to top 150 lbs.
Because I love my body, and want it to last a long time, I do what it indicates is good for me, instead of trying to force it to be one way or another. I, and my health, are much better for it.
*Leaving aside people’s personal beliefs regarding moral eating practices. Veg*nism, religious beliefs, etc., aren’t something society at large touts as moral food choices, at least not in the U.S.