Truth Speaking – Food Shame
“Food shaming can create such a strong fear of what to eat that a person becomes so rigid they risk their physical and emotional health, whether it be from malnourishment, disordered eating patterns, or eating disorders.”
Hey sis, here we are again exploring more truths and shame. Today I am talking about food shame/shaming. I started being really aware of my food habits when I hit puberty. The biggest contrast for me was how inside my home, we had a Ugandan approach to food with usually 3 meals a day and usually little to no snacking. Our plates were usually well filled up, we ate diverse East African inspired meals – and seconds were always a must – we did not stop until the seams holding our bottoms closed started struggling and a food coma was slowly induced lol. THAT was a good meal.
Then everything changed.
I remember visiting my friends’ houses and eating there and the portions,…. so….unassumming…”was this a tasting or a meal?” Was the only question on my mind (which I, of course, kept to myself). By the time the meal was done, pants feeling looser than before I ate, head lighter than air, the difference was clear. My food portion perspective had expanded. This was both good and bad for me.
It began my journey towards an eating disorder where I constantly wanted to teach my African raised belly how to eat like a Danish girl with a thigh gap lol. Thinking my food was the reason why my body didn´t look how I wished it to – desired it to- was shown it should. Why those jeans never sat quite right.
I started boarding school during that time too – where I spent the majority of my days immersed in Danish culture, language and yes, eating habits. To be honest, this both started my journey towards eating more consciously and inspired me to have a workout routine at a very young age (another thing I didn´t grow up being conscious of in my own specifically Ugandan upbringing). So, here I was at the peak of puberty, where it was only natural that I became body conscious, wanting to learn how to manage my growing and stretching body through food and exercise. The awareness, however – without balance or without the right intention (of self-love and care) spiraled into an obsession that pushed me into a cycle of food restriction for periods of time filled with pride as my stomach and body shrank – yet sometimes finding myself binging uncontrollably. This led to feelings of shame from the lack of discipline and loss of control I felt. I also started feeling as though the only way back was to bring it all back out, to purge or to become even stricter the next day. I knew that what I was doing wasn´t healthy but I also felt like I couldn´t stop the unhealthy cycle.
I stopped eating with my Taurean joy and enjoyment as I had done so well growing up and food, calories, and my changing body lured me into a relationship with food that was clearly detrimental. It was laced with guilt, shame and yet made me feel like I had control over an area of my life; how I ate and looked.
Sexual Trauma, ethics and food
This period of my life, was an important one because it was also the time I started my self-study into sexual trauma and the symptoms of it in children and adults. Especially when left untreated. An unhealthy relationship with food was one of the symptoms that came up – either through binging, anorexia or/and bulimia. I read how this was a way for survivors/sufferers to have control over their bodies again, to manage it but also to punish it for what had happened to them through it. I then, as a young teen, started understanding that my relationship with food went beyond the food itself; It started with understanding why I ate the way I ate and how I saw my body and the relationship I had with it.
It was also during this time that I had gone vegetarian then pescatarian. I started to also understand food as a social and ethical issue. I decided that not eating certain things would be a way that I could control (again, there is that word) what I contributed to in the world. Yet being honest, there was a slight overlapping desire to manage my food with an ethical restriction as well. I was still healing. Looking back, however, eating for my ethics sparked at least a more empowering approach to seeing food even though it wasn´t until I became vegan that I really started to eat according to my ethics and HEALTH.
The small vegan community I sought inspiration from at that time, was filled with white girls and women with a narrow “acceptable” vegan looking body-type. It wasn´t ideal but it still inspired positive changes between me and my beloved food. I started by watching Freelee the banana girl ( as I imagine we all did at that time) she talked about eating all we wanted and that not all calories were the same. I stopped counting calories and fearing carbs for the first time since becoming aware of food. I started just eating and of course, while I now had new “problems” they were now more about whether I had eaten enough and not whether I was bad for eating more than I was allowed. Progress.
My relationship with food today
My food journey then led me to follow a Rawtil4 diet (where you would eat raw until 16 pm) – I ate like that for a while and later discovered that it wasn´t entirely working for me – it had taken me as far as it could by freeing me from my fear of eating more/enough. I then started following the Starch Solution which wasn´t as forceful about shoving my face with calories and didn´t spike my blood sugar with juices and smoothies. However, the way I followed it while I mentally felt more balanced my body was producing too much mucus from the starches I was consuming.
I then found Dr.sebi, who made me return home to my original upbringing with new eyes and knowledge. I became aware of eating based on my history as an African, eating unaltered foods and alkalizing my body for optimal health. I started seeing improvements right away – I made a few videos about it on my channel too.
Food now became whole again – I had the knowledge and experience to choose wiser. I no longer fear food or have an unhealthy and restrictive approach to food. While I still follow a vegan diet, that is a “restriction” of personal ethics and paired with the understanding of food as medicine, I feel rather empowered in my approach to food today.
While my relationship with food has taken me on my journies, it has also taught me a lot about myself: From culture to body representation, to food and abuse, to food ethics and the environment, to indigenous health and medicine and the importance of heritage and food. I follow an imperfectly and intuitive way of eating now. Food is now nutrition, medicine, joy and self-expression and embracing. I have a No-Shame- No-Guilt policy when it comes to food – or perhaps I should say that understanding why I had guilt and shame around food in the first place has helped free me from it.
I also haven´t been on a diet in years ( praiselujah!) my body weight is the most stable it has been in years and apart from “hangry moments” when I wait too long to eat – my mental state has also balanced as well as my health. I am grateful. A healthy food relationship is a journey because we aren´t only what we eat but why we eat how we eat.
May this inspire you to re-examine your own relationship with food and where you picked up your approaches to what you have on your plate. May how you eat be intentional and connected to your personal needs and rooted in self-care and love. May it be void of unnecessary guilt and shame. May this be of benefit on your own journey towards a holistic approach to eating and living.
with love, light and courage always