All Food Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The prosecution approaches the stand.

It’s not looking good. The allegations against food are up in the thousands. Countless witnesses have come forward. They’ve testified against sugar, fat, carbs, and calories. The plaintiff’s claims range from acne to weight-gain, and everything  in between.

The defamation plot began many years ago, when marketers realized they could profit from western culture’s growing narcissism. The inclination towards self-obsession and hunger for external validation that was spreading made targeting the insecure and weak-willed a simple 3-step matter.

1) Identify what people want.

2) Identify the fears that hold them back from attaining this.

3) Exploit the f#ck out of both.

The problem, in a way, was the lack of problems. An epidemic of too much time, and not enough real conflict or thought. For the first time, people were living in relative safety and comfort. There were no plagues, no world wars, no hardships to keep the population adequately distracted and focused on survival alone. Survival became a foreign concept;  that wasn’t enough anymore. Why survive when you could THRIVE? Why just be okay, be average, be mediocre (the last two becoming synonymous) when there were others who were seemingly doing BETTER than you? The media was flooded with images of superstars, models, people who had it all. These idols we all must aspire to be. Suddenly good enough, just wasn’t good enough. What’s the point in living if you aren’t the best? If you aren’t envied by everyone for your wealth and beauty? Together we glorified these stars for their “perfect” bodies, tearing down any who fell from grace; gaining a pound or two – or, god-forbid, aging naturally. We branded this as weakness, as deterioration of their value and integrity.

What did they want? Well, what it all boiled down to was a basic need for acceptance (or rather, the illusion of love). Robbed of this, drawn into an endless cycle of comparison, competition, and ranking, people became determined to attain this unattainable and detrimental goal they never even knew they wanted, as a way to substitute what they were really missing: self-esteem and purpose. And there the marketers spotted the opportunity to cash in big time.

Cue the rise of the diet-industry. “Dieting” didn’t used to exist. Or rather, it didn’t mean the same thing. The word “diet” used to exist simply as a noun referring to the selection of food that a living species consumed for survival, before it became a verb meaning restrictive eating. People didn’t used to have that luxury, when they were just barely scraping by and food was a valuable commodity. There was a switch from not enough, to too much. Where people were starving, now they were eating for pleasure alone. Thus began the unhealthy worship of food, and thereby the need to control it. For after all, anything that can incite desire holds an innate power.

The diet-industry, smelling an opportunity to make money, began to tout products and lifestyles that would solve this perceived problem in the form of fad diets and buzzwords on packaged foods. The same way they idolized certain people and bodies, they demonized certain foods. First creating fear, then offering safety with their “healthy” alternatives. Suddenly, the market was saturated with mixed messages: fat is bad! No, wait, sugar is bad! Hold on, fat is good, eat nothing but fat. Now carbs are bad, don’t eat carbs. Count calories. Take vitamins. Take supplements. Eat this, not that. Eat that, not this. Listen. Despair. We are right, your body is wrong. Ignore it. Listen! We know best, trust us.

food_court_1335155
Food Court. Get it?

There was no escape. Of course, people still need to eat to survive. No escape. Mixed-messages everywhere. Confusion. What was once “good” is no longer good. Eggs? Awful, don’t eat them. Gluten? We don’t need no stinken’ gluten. Confusion. Shame, shame everywhere. Yet the promise of no shame. Heed! This product labelled “Guilt-free”! At last!

But wait, since when is eating a source of guilt? It’s something we do to survive. Sure, some foods are more nutritious than others, but in moderation, we shouldn’t feel bad about what we choose to put into our bodies. Even if we do over do it, there’s no use feeling guilty. The food didn’t murder anyone, did it? No, it’s harmless. But perpetuating this idea that some foods are evil and we should deprive ourselves simply because they are “naughty”, will only cause us to develop a toxic relationship with them. It’s the same with foods labeled “cheat foods”, as though you are committing adultery on your diet. What you eat isn’t a covenant like marriage…it’s just food. It’s not a life-long commitment; it will be digested and defecated out of your body within 48 hours (with the help of our good friend fibre). It’s a short-term relationship. Eat some chips or a cupcake? That’s a one-night stand. Except unlike one-night stands, you stand almost zero chance of picking up any weird diseases. Maybe you regret it afterwards when you feel a bit bloated, but in the moment you were like, “what the hell, it makes me feel good”. It’s nothing to feel guilty about, because again, and I cannot emphasize this enough: It’s. Just. Food.

Those low-fat-sugar-free wannabe-cookie-abominations you choked down whilst trying to convince yourself they tasted half as good as the real thing? They weren’t “guilt-free” like the packaging claimed, because get this: they weren’t guilty to begin with.

And neither are you for eating them.

The jury is in.

Case closed.

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