Why Food Rules Piss Me The Fuck Off

(Or, "In Which I Eschew My Usual Eschewing of the F Word ['Fuck,' Not 'Fat']")

I was about to go to Starbucks.  I was going to get an eggnog latte.  I googled to see if I could determine the eggnog latte's availability so far this season, and the top page was this one:

You know where that goes?  To a nutritional chart right smack dab in front of your face.  I didn't know how many calories were in an eggnog latte.  I didn't want to know.  I wanted to go order a tall nonfat fucking eggnog latte with no fucking whipped cream, and I wanted to fucking enjoy it.

Know what happens now?  I have two choices.  I can go to Starbucks and get a tall nonfat eggnog latte without whipped cream, and I can drink it, and I can try to enjoy it, but I can just about guarantee you that I will crash and burn at that one.  Or I can sit here and not have an the latte, and not feel disgusting and horrific about myself... Until I start tallying up all the other calories from today, because seeing calories is a huge trigger for me.  All I wanted to know was whether the eggnog latte was available yet.  What I got instead was (to me) harmful information without my consent.  (Getting pissed off writing this post is my attempt to distract myself from the urge to tally until it passes.)

Last Friday, Mike Huckabee was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher, and they talked about the "nanny state" and weight loss.  (Huckabee used to be quite overweight.)  Maher (about whom I have such mixed feelings that they could've come out of a blender) told Huckabee he was wrong about Mayor Bloomberg wanting to institute a salt restriction on foods in NYC restaurants.  No, Maher said, what actually happened was the public decided it wanted less salt and restaurants started to respond to that.  Capitalism.  Actually, Bill was wrong, and Mike was right.  I posted about the NYC salt restriction at the time, pointing out that our Mayor was imposing his own food hang-ups on our whole city.

But you know, it doesn't matter, ultimately, if a food rule imposed on the masses came down from on high or evolved from a grass-roots obsession.  Starbucks, for instance, posted calorie information long before Bloomberg instituted his calorie rule (which was separate from the salt issue).  In the obesity panic, no one stops to consider whether the obsession gets us anywhere, and people like me (sorry, I do occasionally insist on being counted, you know) don't just get disregarded; we get hurt.

Another thing Huckabee noted in his Real Time appearance was how he'd grown up with a mindset that allowed him to have a very unhealthy relationship with food.  "Were you good?  You get ice cream!  If you weren't good, you get no ice cream."  (I paraphrase.)  Huckabee had to re-contextualize food in order to have a healthy relationship with it.  Do I ever get that.  Food as reward or punishment is huge in America; all splashing calories around at "celebratory" food places does is add a really sick ingredient to an already ailing recipe.

Contextualization is key in the whole obesity panic/disordered eating dichotomy.  So what the hell kind of context are we constructing with the passive-aggressive posting of calorie info, whether at the supposed behest of the masses, or at the father-knows-best recommendations of public policy makers?  We're constructing a shitty, passive-aggressive context, and that is why food rules piss me the fuck off.


  1. Man, it's a fucked up day when you're agreeing with Huckabee over Maher. (I totally agree with you, I'm just not sure how I feel about it.)

  2. Oh, beLIEVE me. I thought the same thing. It was one of those "DOES - NOT - COMPUTE" moments.





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