"An apple didn't win the Nobel Peace Prize and a cookie didn't rob a bank. Food has no moral value."
This is something we like to say in Embody Carolina, a Campus Y committee, especially during our trainings, in which we help people learn how to be compassionate and effective allies to those struggling with eating disorders.
The thing is, you don't have to be struggling with a full-blown eating disorder to have thoughts or hear other people moralize food as "good" or "bad," and therein categorize themselves as "good" or "bad," depending on what they ate. These comments aren't helpful and can be hurtful, creating a sense of guilt that's not necessary for us simply listening to, feeding and fueling our bodies.
I find it interesting -- and more than that, upsetting -- that so much guilt and shame is placed on food: how much, how many calories, what food group, and other aspects of that nature. We need food to live; we need fat to live. "Calories" really just tell us how much energy something will give us, and our bodies were created to tell us what they want and create homeostasis within us. Andy Dwyer in Parks and Rec explains it best in this clip.
We shouldn't feel guilty or shameful about being full, overeating sometimes, getting a second serving, being more hungry than someone else, eating a cookie, or anything of that nature. We are human beings. Our bodies are different and need different kinds of amounts of food at different times. Nothing is wrong with this. No excuses like "I haven't eaten since x" or "I ran x miles today" are necessary.
By attributing moral value to food, we attribute it to ourselves, which is simply inaccurate. We are not good or bad people based on what we eat, and what we eat or how we look doesn't change who we are as a friend, sister, brother, student, athlete, or any other identity we identify with.
Further, attributing moral value to food can cause us to have an unhealthy relationship with food. For example, we may restrict our food intake, at which point, our body will compel us to binge. Or we may binge because, by eating a certain food, we've "blown it anyway and might as well." I think that sometimes we think that moralizing food and "acting accordingly" is helpful to our health, but it's actually detrimental, having the opposite effect than what we desire.
The next time you're out eating with friends or talking about food, I suggest talking about how good it tastes or what your favorite item on the menu is. More than that, I encourage you to listen to your cravings and talk to people about how they're doing, not what they or you are eating. Time spent with people should be about people, not the food. Food can rule our lives in a way that takes away from how great it can be, and I wouldn't wish this on anyone.
Once you put aside those conversations, you will be much happier and more content, believe me. Your body thanks you and so do I.