Why calories on menus are bullshit
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I have a lot to say on the new calories on menus bullshit.. And it's not just because i think it's utter bullshit and ableist towards people with disordered eating. I think it's such a performance and just a full on cop out.
We all know i'm not a fan of our current government and i have many words to describe them, none of them positive. And it feels like this is just another one of their "let's pretend we're actually doing something to help" schemes.
Let's be honest, calories on menus aren't going to do SHIT for the obesity crisis and it's just going to harm those with disordered eating habits.
Do you think people get obese because they eat out every day? Be honest, how often do you realistically go out for food? Because almost nobody would say everyday. So do you think that ordering the least calorie dense option on the menu once a month is going to make you lose weight? The answer is not a fucking chance.
Which leads me to my next point because i've seen a lot of people screaming about "it's not fair to cater to people with eating disorders and not priorities the people who want to know what they're eating". Turns out (super shockingly) that almost every single place that does food has a "nutritional" section you can check out. Normally a few taps away on your phone, and there you have it, the numbers in every meal. So if you was actually that bothered, look it up. Stop trying to be so desperate to be oppressed. The people that want to know what's in their food already know where to find it.
All the food i buy from the shops has numbers on it but it's not so in my face that i can avoid it. So why the hell does the restaurant food need to be different?
Since we've established why it's not going to be anything to help the obesity crisis. let's get into why is it so damaging towards people with disordered eating.
First off, it re-enforces the idea that picking the foods with the lowest option is the ideal, and we should be avoiding calorie dense options. It plays on the idea that food is good and bad rather than just to be enjoyed. It takes away from the experience that is eating out (ie seeing friends, eating foods you wouldn't normally have, trying new things) and focuses on numbers instead. It enforces that it's the norm for everything to revolve around numbers, when there's so much more to life than that. It also encourages diet talk which can be incredibly triggering, ie "i wanted ___ but look how many calories are in it, that's so bad of me"
A lot of the time for people in recovery restaurants are scary enough as it is, it's full of fear foods and the unknown. Having something already terrifying, made worse really just isn't the way to go.
Something else i want to talk about here is how much this whole thing has enforced the stereotypes around eating disorders. A lot of comments i've seen revolve around the idea that people with disordered eating don't eat out, so what does it matter anyway. Let me tell you that's utter crap. Even when i was at my worst, i'd still eat out. And are they always forgetting about people in recovery, are we not deserving of a safe space.
I've also seen a lot of people re-enforcing the stereotype that the only type of eating disorder is anorexia. There's so many different types of eating disorders and i can't even begin to imagine how it's going to affect everyone that's impacted by disordered eating differently. And i say disordered eating because i think this is going to start a cycle of more people obsessing over the numbers in their food, as well that people that are already impacted before this happened. Similar to the 2000s mainstream media affected so many young people.
And i would be like to add her that with the mental health services already incredibly underfunded this really isn't the hot take the government thinks it is.
I am incredibly lucky to have people around me who can read out the menu to me and help me when it gets hard. But not everyone has that, and it just makes recovery that much harder.
I started recovery 3/4 years ago and i know that it's still going to affect me, especially when eating out with people who don't know about my MI so i won't have that help.
So why do i think it's a cop out?
Because what people actually need is affordable and accessible food.
People work so much more hours than we used to, but we still have a government who's stuck in the 1950s. One income is not enough to support a family anymore. There's barely any housewife's, people aren't coming home from work to a freshly cooked meal because everyone is working. And after a long shift do you really want to come home and cook for an hour? No we don't. We overworked and tired and the last thing we're thinking about is actually taking care of ourselves. It's easier to grab a ready meal to bang in the oven or grab something quick on the way home. And it's bloody cheaper too. When you're struggling to make ends meet, are you thinking about using that money to make the family a salad? No. You're going to buy what cheap enough to feed a family and keep them full. The last thing you're thinking about is numbers.
It's not about people not wanting to lose weight. It's about people not having the time, money or education. So don't give me the government are trying their best, they aren't. They're playing dirty tricks to make it seem like they're actually doing something. But they don't know what it feels like to have to come home already tired and then make a full meal, because all their food is cooked for them. Do you think boris johnson even knows how to chop up veg because i bloody don't.
And we're also moving a lot less as a human race, jobs used to be a lot more physically tasking. but now a lot of jobs are desk jobs. We're just overall moving less and that's not anyones fault, but it also explains why we're getting bigger as a society.
and i think it's such a cop out because none of these factors have even been looked at.
But the diet industry makes far too much money by exploiting people for the government to actually do anything for real help.
So to sum up, calories on menu isn't going to do anything for the obesity crisis. It hinders people in recovery by focusing on stereotypes and numbers. It's going to set off a spiral of disordered eating. I hate the government.