“Good” Food

In 1993, I gave up fat for Lent.

In an attempt to be “good” (which I was a little hung up on), and to prove my self discipline (which seemed to be lapsing), and to convince myself, once and for all, that I could stick to my guns; I decided that a period of abstinence was a great way of putting myself on the straight and narrow -

Chocolate was the starting point (because everyone else was doing it), and puddings and fat were thrown in for good measure (because I was convinced that I was already on the way to hell).

And so, out went “bad” foods, like cakes, and biscuits, and sweets, and anything that exceeded the finger-in-the-air fat limit (10g); and, in came “good” foods, like müller lights and quorn mince and anything labelled “fat-free”.

It doesn’t take long for an eating disorder to kick in.

Anorexia wasn’t as common as it is today; but, by Easter, it had made itself at home. The end of Lent did not signal the sense of achievement I had anticipated; and the flake egg that I still remember 17 years, evoked an inexplicable terror, rather than a welcome release.

As Lent approaches and I can feel myself getting a little tense, I have been reminded of the dangers of misplaced terminology, and noticed that I am a little over-sensitive to the notion of “good” and “bad” food, or the idea that saying no to chocolate is a sign of virtue.

And, as I am still trying to deal with the 12 year old me’s messed up ideas around food, and deserving, and how to be good; I am instinctively adverse to the suggestion that giving up chocolate, or chips, or “bad” things, should be considered a “good” thing, particularly around children –

Because mixing food with morality can get a bit messy; and, confusing what you eat, with who you are, will often end in tears.

And, I am a case in point.

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