Privilege of selective eating

20/07/2015

Zoe Nicholson on the privilege of selective eating:

The ability to be so selective with what we eat is a Western world privilege.

Unfortunately an over-abundance of food is partly why we have so much unnecessary processed food-like food. The proliferation of such processed food is, I believe, a large part of why so many people are turning to different forms of eating, be it paleo, clean, gluten free etc. After all, if we only had fresh whole food available to us, the term “clean eating” probably wouldn’t even have arisen. I also suspect that if we only had fresh whole food available to us, and this includes grains and legumes, the “paleo diet” would not have come about either.

The one thing all these new styles of eating have in common is the elimination of highly processed food. Well almost, the food industry has responded with plenty of packaged paleo and “clean” food (aka processed food), which ironically is exactly how we got into this “food fight” in the first place. Watch this space, in a few years there will another style of eating to combat all the new food-like food that has infiltrated paleo and clean eating.

While all this goes on, there are millions of people in the world who are just happy to have whatever food is available. They are not interested if the food is gluten free, sugar free, clean, paleo or alkaline and most likely don’t even know the terms exist. 

Rice, maize and wheat provide 60 percent of the world’s food energy intake [source] . Of the top 10 crops in the world, all are carbohydrate rich food. I am not saying this is how it should be, but it is the current situation. The overwhelming majority of people in the world cannot afford (and I don’t mean financially) to eat “clean” or “paleo”. Luckily for them, they don’t need to because they are not exposed to an over-abundance of food, be it whole food or processed food.

However you choose to eat, try to keep things simple, stick to mostly whole fresh food, limit packaged food with multiple ingredients and be thankful you have access to so much nourishing food.

Try to avoid placing a moral value on how you eat or following a style of eating that doesn’t fit in easily with work, family, social events or travel. Why? Because this type of eating can foster an unhealthy relationship with food and can lead to disordered eating or eating disorders. If one of your reasons for following a specific style of eating is weight loss, then you also may be increasing your risk of body image dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem.

For centuries the problem with food was getting enough. It still is for most in the developing world and the poor in the developed world.

But those with more than enough which gives them the luxury of choice are worried about getting too much and/or whether what they are getting is the “right” food.

Most of us in the developed world have the privilege of selective eating and that’s made what and how much we eat a problem of our own making.


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