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It is my God-given right to bear baguettes.

Hand clutches a piece of bread with a bread knife in background. Text overlay "I'll Give You My Bread When You Pry It from My Cold, Dead Hands: Challenging the Food Police"

When someone asks what I do for a living, I tell them, “I help people feel peaceful around food and in their bodies. Really, it’s all about having a healthy relationship with food and our bodies.” And often, as I’ve noted before, the person I’m conversing with will hang their head and whisper-confess some dietary sin they’ve committed.

If there are no food-sins to confess, the other common response is a knowing nod of the head and a conspiratorial arm around my shoulder. “Thank you!” they sing. And what they mean is Thank you for joining forces with us, the Food Police, so we can talk down to the poor, poor, uneducated masses who enjoy a Ding Dong now and then. Because we (they think I’m one of them) know any/all of the following:

  • Gluten is the devil.
  • Sugar is the devil.
  • Meat is the devil.
  • Fats are the devil. (And being fat is très devilish)
  • Carbs are the devil.
  • Vegetables are not usually the devil. (Except, in my opinion, because ewwww.)
  • One bad vegetable is corn – because corn is frequently processed to become sugar. And as you already know, sugar is the devil.

And now we’re back where we started.

I’d like to propose an alternative to the Food Police, where food is just food. Yes, even white flour. Because in a world where food is just food, we get to eat and enjoy a wide variety of deliciousness. There’s no need to eliminate entire groups of nutrients like carbohydrates or fats.

It is my God-given right to bear baguettes, even if you believe white flour needs to be eradicated from my pantry. So please do not denigrate my baguette, and I will try not to denigrate your first-press elixir of durian and chia pudding with a chaser of coconut oil. If it’s tasty enough, I’m happy to enjoy that concoction with you; I just don’t see it as morally superior.

The problem with conflating food and morality is that it often cascades into a slew of negative effects. Many processed foods taste pretty damn good. However, if we feel guilty about eating those foods, then there is a higher likelihood of engaging in eating behaviors that lead to more guilt and shame. This includes overeating, sneak-eating, emotional eating, and binge eating. Most common is the phenomenon of “What the hell, I ate some chips and ruined my clean eating; so I will eat the whole bag and start fresh tomorrow.”

Except this isn’t an isolated incident. There is always another tomorrow where ice cream and French fries lurk around every corner. When you stop seeing things as black and white; pass or fail; perfection or disaster; control vs. chaos; then you can enjoy more things in moderation rather than yo-yoing your way through life.

And being chased by the Food Police.