I was recently at a weekend retreat with some fellow entrepreneurs. We had such an inspiring time of learning and connecting and growing together. We spent the weekend eating DELICIOUS plant based meals. At the end of th event we were surprised with a trip to Universal CityWalk and were all excited about eating at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium!
This is where I noticed it – in my own personal dialogue – Performative Eating thoughts.
Performative Eating = Eating not what you WANT to eat, but what you assume others will judge you less for. Making decisions on what to eat not based on what you’re hungry for or what your body needs, but based on how others will perceive the choice you make.
Y’all! I did this so often in my earlier years as a health and fitness professional, always making sure to choose the healthiest thing on the menu because people were watching me. It got so bad that friends were starting to avoid going out with me for fear the I was going to judge THEM. My best friend reminded me just the other day that I used to joke with her that if I was ever missing she could probably find me hiding in a closet eating an entire cake.
At this table with 19 other women, I was very tempted to ignore what my body was telling me it wanted for fear of judgment. I listened as everyone around me wrestled with what to order, vocalizing reasons, excuses, how they had earned certain things, were treating themselves, and declaring this a “no judgement zone” before picking their meals, and choosing dessert. And it almost put me right back to those old performative eating habits I’ve worked so hard to break.
I have been practicing Intuitive Eating and really staying in tune with my body. And my body wanted a BURGER! I am a big promoter of a plant strong life. I had a twinge of fear before ordering what I knew I wanted. They all know my brand…will they think I’m a fraud? They are all justifying what they want out loud…should I explain why I “get” to order what I’m ordering too? But I paused and took a deep breath and remembered that I am the only one in control of me. The opinions of others are not a reason to choose something I don’t want.
I ordered (with only a little explanation “I’m SOOOO hungry”…it’s a practice y’all!), and thoroughly enjoyed that ENTIRE BURGER! And guess what? Not a single person judged me (out loud anyway LOL).
Here’s the thing, it would be a lie if I told you not to worry because no one around you cares what you eat anyway. Many around us may project their own fear of, and restriction of, food onto you. But they don’t live in your body. Only YOU do.
The first step to freeing yourself from performative eating is to change your language around food with yourself AND with others.
My biggest pet peeve at the moment…STOP SAYING YOU’RE ‘BEING BAD’ FOR EATING FOOD. There are a lot of things we can do in life that are bad, but eating food, ANY food, isn’t one of those things. No matter what you weigh, what profession you’re in, what your friends/family are or are not eating, what your activity looks like, you never need to do ANYthing to EARN your food, and food itself is neutral…it has ZERO moral value.
Sadly, disordered eating habits, and all the language that goes with them, are socially acceptable, encouraged, praised and rewarded. It’s up to YOU to change the narrative for yourself.
Consider what it might be like to eat WHAT your body wants and needs AND how MUCH it wants and needs. Imagine what it might be like to listen to your body’s wise, instinctual, regularity system when making decisions about what goes into your body.
As with anything in life, learning to change our relationship with food is a practice. Read more about Intuitive Eating HERE.