What's the problem? Well, "the eater becomes a fictional aggregate of numbers and statistics," (Mudry 250). And when what we eat is based on hunger, availability, price, and desire, including the desire to 'be good' and 'eat well'... things get complicated. "On the one hand, our advice about the health benefits of diets based largely on food plants--fruits, vegetables and grains--has not changed in more than 50 years and is consistently supported by ongoing research. On the other hand, people seem increasingly confused about what they are supposed to eat to stay healthy," (Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Nestle).
Most alarming is the fact that, "at the level of everyday experience, nutritionism has given rise to and promoted the nutritional gaze--a way of looking at and encountering food as being composed as nutrients, which overwhelms other ways of encountering and sensually experiencing food," (On the Ideology of Nutritionism, Scrunis 46). Why does it matter? Because in addition to confusing us, this 'nutritional gaze' also exceptionally distorts our relationship with food. As Carole M. Counihan pointed out in her book, The Anthropology of Food and Body: Gender, Meaning, and Power: "Personal expression of willpower and release of control only under certain culturally sanctioned conditions are the key issues in their relationship to food an in their overall ideology of life," (118).
"In fact, women are much more likely than men to be the targets of judgement comments made by both women and men on all topics related to eating. The acceptance of this fact and its constant reproduction by women as well as men reinforces the subordinate position of women, who are judged, relative to men, who do the judging. Given the importance of being attractive to men in the college 'culture of romance' (Holland and Eisenhart 1990), it is no wonder that my female informants devote a great deal of time and energy worrying about their weight and food consumption," (Counihan 125).
The fourth photo above is from last year's Thanksgiving dinner in Paris. The first three were taken the day before I left New York. On January 10th, my mom declared that neither she, myself, nor my sister had been able to enjoy it at home, so we should belatedly celebrate. Gosh do I love my mom. I may have figured out another reason I love Thanksgiving, too. It's one of the few days of the year I don't consider nutrition. No matter how much I've been inspired by alternative approaches, I suppose I'll always be American in this way. Maybe I'm okay with that though. 'Good' food can have a place in my diet... just as long as I leave room for other 'good food', too. With National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week in mind, I sincerely hope you're able to do the same.