No matter how many times fat activists explain that weight is not necessarily equal to calories consumed minus calories burned, restrictive diets and unrealistic exercise plans are always proffered as the solution. They don’t want us to think about the fact that the diet and exercise industries generate a multi-billion dollars per year, even as they shame us for failing to live up to socially constructed norms. There is a reason that most people yo-yo with their weight throughout their life. Restricting food to get into a bathing suit is not healthy and yet this time of year, this is exactly what many advertisements encourage.
I have written many times about what a luxury food is. At this moment, if you walk into my kitchen you will find bakery fresh bread, various fruits and vegetables, as well as good cuts of meat. My family eats well (when I cook) and that is due strictly to our class status. While it is certainly possible to eat a healthy diet on a less funds, think beans and rice, they don’t offer much variety for your taste buds. Most people on limited funds are forced to choose food which is mass produced (i.e loaded with salt, sugar and various chemicals) that is quick to prepare. Time is money and this is true no matter how poor you are.
For all the blaming people for being fat, we certainly don’t do much as a society to ensure that food, a vital resource is available in high quality to everyone. There are neighbourhoods that are food deserts. We cannot live without eating and yet seldom do we celebrate the pleasure that food is because this takes time and since the hours of the day are highly regimented, for most people food is something to be quickly swallowed while doing something else, or on our way to something else.
Eating can and should be a pleasurable experience. It is when we can spend time together as a family and share our experiences. I made my famous (yes, it’s famous cause I said so) curry beef with rice, apples, and raisins, the other night and as the smell began to fill my home, it brought me a sense of comfort. It is an act of love to take the time to create something wonderful for the people you love. The look of pure pleasure as my family began to eat is something that I cherish.
In my home, food is something that brings pleasure and a celebration of our love. This is indeed a luxury because not only do we have the resources to buy fresh ingredients, when I am physically able to cook time is not an issue. Though we were promised an era of less work and politicians and pundits continue to whine about the breakdown of the so-called traditional family, we do not support the institution in real and meaningful ways. If you finish work at five and then don’t arrive home for another 40 minutes or more, what time do you really have to make a healthy meal?
If we were really concerned about healthy food, we would give people the two things that they need to ensure a balanced diet: time and access to good ingredients at a reasonable price. It is absolutely hypocritical to spend time shaming people for their supposed eating habits when society is structured in such a way as to ensure that eating a meal has become akin to putting gas in a car. There is no communion with nature and there is no community and therefore, is it really any wonder that there is no real connection when it comes to food?