I’m thinking of a trip I made to Goa a few years ago as I write this article. We ate Goan food to our hearts’ content; poee with fish curries, pork sausages, and lots and lots of bebinca. Wherever you are, try to remember the most joyous and sumptuous meals you’ve experienced as you read through this article.
In school, we’re taught about food and the nutrition it gives us. How carbohydrates, fats, and proteins have their roles in helping us breathe, walk, run, and play. But somehow, through the years, the simplified teachings changed, and I ended up being a product of food instead of a consumer.
My relationship with food was never my own. It was a layered belief system, influenced bytoo many. The circle of influence started small but proliferated during and beyond my teens. My mother’s wariness to add butter and cheese to the pantry, my father’s aversion to gluten, my friend’s weight loss ordeal via a stringent keto diet, lunch break talk shifting from homemade deliciousness to calorie per morsel ratio, a fit influencer posing with a herbal tea guaranteeing a weight loss journey that was neither realistic nor sustainable, a new diet fad with a fat free food product everyday; everything added to the loss of both joy and health in food.
Food has the potential to alter health- both physical and mental. I developed body dysmorphia and an eating disorder. For me, food came with strings attached- health, fitness, thinness, control, societal approval, and self-esteem. There were times I ate food that was theoretically healthy but my health was plummeting, and others when I broke away and ate heartily, and felt healthy, making me questionwhy I ate what I ate. How do I unlearn years of conditioning and beliefs about food?
The consumption of the kind of food one eats is conventionally linked to how thin/fit/fat one is. It was incredibly difficult for me to acknowledge my issues and seek help. To find counselors and medical professionals who found my issues valid and not see me as someone using my fatness as a blanket or a means of comfort. Finding someone who could understand me and work with me to help me reach a better place took some time, but it did work and played a crucial role on my road to recovery.
Poorva’s comic strip on her relationship with food
A part of my journey of finding happiness in the food I eat, and in extension, myself, is in learning that what makes me happy and healthy might not apply to another person. There is a possibility that the video you watched of what Kareena Kapoor eats in a day might not satisfy your needs and the goals you set for yourself. There is a possibility that diet culture and the billion-dollar diet industry makes you feel detached from the health narrative altogether. There is a possibility that in a population of billions; different bodies, genders, ages, and cultures, one cannot rely on a single rule of thumb to be healthy.
I think about my Goa trip again, all the delicacies and the sustained happiness limbo I was in then, in hope of finding a wholesome relationship with food; for me and everyone.
Poorva is a young, intelligent and talented individual who recently started her own Instagram page to spread more awareness on mental health concerns with her writings and comics. Having dealt with some of these concern herself, she makes sure that her personal poems and drawings reminds everyone that theyarenotalone. Apart from writing, Poorva loves to spend time in the kitchen, cooking and baking delicious food, or singing songs and strumming her ukulele. She also makes sure she pets all the dogs and cats she meets on the streets! Check out Poorva’s Instagram account here.