Earn Your Food (not your intrinsic value)

When it comes to the act of self-judgment (as it pertains to food and exercise), there is a level of nuance that we must address. While checking out my Instagram feed this morning, I came across this post, and while I understand the author’s intentions, I must say that I disagree with the message. Most of it anyway.

I understand the importance of self-acceptance, empathy, and detaching your character from actions that you have difficulty controlling. I literally wrote the book on it when it comes to fitness. More times than I can count, I have expressed that the actions that lead to unhealthy outcomes- like overeating, late-night snacking, technological distraction, and laziness- are human issues rather than issues of personal character. You should not see yourself as a person of lesser value because of your physical shape or the behaviours that got you there, but you do need to take 100% responsibility for your health and stop being full of shit.

I wholeheartedly disagree with the line, ‘you don’t need to earn your food.’ The fact that human beings no longer need to earn the foods we eat is the underlying mechanism of the obesity epidemic. We have access to millions of calories, and we can have them delivered to our door, ready to consume. We don’t have to hunt. We don’t have to prepare or refine our own meals. WE DON’T HAVE TO EARN OUR FOOD. This is a problem with obvious consequences.

So let’s separate the two messages instead of pretending that they are the same. If you are overweight and you are struggling, it does not mean that you are not a person of value. It does not mean that you should feel bad about who you are or feel as though weight problems are issues of character. But to act as though being unhealthy is O.K. and there is nothing that needs to be done about it is absurd. There is no other self-destructive behavior that we would give that level of leniency.

Your should earn your food. Every comfort in your life should be earned. That is the true meaning of balance. You do your job when you’re at work so you can come home and focus on your family. You show up to social and familial events that are inconvenient for you so that you can tighten the bonds of your relationships. You move your body in a significant way so you can enjoy your abundant access to food without a massive health consequence.

If everyone earned their food, the world would be a healthier place.

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