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Personal Essay on Food Shaming

Here's Why You Shouldn't Food Shame Me — or Anyone Else

Hi, I'm Nicole, and I love sh*tty food. I enjoy long meals (mostly takeout) on my couch, and I don't believe in deprivation, meaning I will give my body what it wants, when it wants it. I don't ask you if you're still hungry after you finish your kale salad, so I don't understand why some people are so judgmental of my personal food choices. About eight times out of 10 when I share that I've had McDonald's for dinner, I'm returned with a look of disgust and feel the need to defend myself: "But I worked out" or "I had a tough day." But neither I nor anyone else should have to justify what we eat, ever.

I'll be the first to admit that I eat fast food at least once a week. It's cheap, it's delicious, and above all, it brings me joy. "Ew, Nicole, come on — you're a grown woman; make responsible choices." Full disclosure: no one's ever said that to me, but that's what I think most people are thinking by their reactions to the words "Big Mac" and "large fries." But look, I work out regularly, I buy groceries, and I make healthy meals at home. Not many people know this, but you're allowed to eat things you enjoy every once in a while without feeling guilty. It's called moderation! (Jennifer Aniston knows what's up.) You also have every right to follow a diet plan of your choice — whether it's keto, intermittent fasting, or Paleo — sans negative judgment or commentary.

Aside from the fact that what I choose to put inside my body is none of your business, more people need to have a better relationship with food. Your health should absolutely be a priority, but we have to remember that being healthy can be defined in multiple ways, including how balanced your lifestyle is and how happy you are, and to me, food and happiness are synonymous. Indulgences shouldn't come with a side of guilt. Treat yourself because you want it, not because you've "earned" it.

To the other end, no one should have to feel defensive about their healthy choices, either. Your salad does not need to be prefaced by an explanation. As long as it's what you want, why should it matter what anyone else thinks? So, next time you catch yourself backing up your burger or a green smoothie, stop and say, "Yup, and it was f*cking delicious."

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