Sunday, April 4, 2010


"Over the years I have been exposed to women with extraordinary bodies, some of whom are naturally blessed with them, and others who have to fight for every inch. Some are reed-thin and others creamily voluptuous. The happiest are the ones for whom eating is a pleasure, rather than something to be held hostage by. These women are sexy. They share a total ease around food and the understanding that whatever their shape or size, they steer the ship in which they sail. Women have historically given much power to food, yet food is inanimate. There is nothing sensual about militant restriction. It is infertility, osteoporosis, and bleeding gums. It saps and withers."

Wise words indeed by Sophie Dahl in the March edition of Vogue US.

The topic of weight is a long-running one, the world over. Growing up in Kenya and having limited exposure to the West, anorexia was a distant thing and something I can honestly say I didn't have to consider the implications of. I cannot speak on behalf of all the young girls (or guys) growing up alongside me in Kenya but its fair to say that when a vast majority of the country is worrying about sourcing the next meal, the impact of magazines/models/designers/media/the resultant feeding loop of mothers and daughters and the knowledge passed on regarding food is not in the foreground.

I am now well aware of the extreme dangers associated with starvation and the fact that food obsession caters to being in control, and is addictive and soul-destroying.

So do we tackle the problem the right way? Dahl's article iterates the importance of placing value on taking pleasure in food. Natural ingredients, traditions. The French, the Italians, the Africans (to name a few examples).....they have it right. They are not the same stick thin build but then why is that attractive again? They have it right, they embrace food and conversation, cooking together, espousing delicious flavours and aromas and tastes. Food is life. Food is culture. Food is family. And food is meant to be nurtured, celebrated and to satiate.

I have to be honest here. I've stumbled across a few blogs where pictures of the authors do nothing more than nauseate me. Where do we draw the line? Dry skin, brittle hair, bones protruding where they shouldn't be? There is no excuse. Models too, in my opinion, are meant to look vibrant and gorgeous and full of life. And a gorgeous item of clothing on a beautiful girl will spark my desire, not a sack of bones with a hessian sack (because everything starts to look like that) draping over it coming down the runway.

Is food a friend or an enemy?
And is it a pleasure, or a guilty pleasure?

I am a woman for whom eating is a pleasure. I embrace culinary experimentation, natural ingredients, and the mouth-watering results. I thank my parents for encouraging me to learn how to cook and to enjoy it, and for never passing on that negative food association that so many mothers unfortunately inadvertently pass on to their daughters. I am not a saint, I eat things on the 'no go' list. And between the ages of 17 and 22, I sometimes experimented with the whole "could stand to lose a few kilos" stance. When food was a guilty pleasure or when I thought I could stand to lose a few kilos and attempted to diet somewhat, I was the biggest I've ever been. And as soon as I stopped worrying about the few kilograms and just focused on enjoying food, I lost those "trouble" kilos without even thinking about it.

In truth, uncompromised control is timpossible to maintain. I quickly realised that its all about moderation. My timely realisation that uncompromising control over what I eat will lead to a breakdown of sorts when something doesn't go according to plan allows me to enjoy food and to treat it as just that. You may think you are in control when you monitor everything that goes into your mouth, but you don't realise that you're the one being held hostage.

So love food, embrace it, enjoy it. Because embracing our size and shape and embracing food, in the truest sense, is the perfect way to be. Ne'er has a truer statement been made. The happiest women are truly the ones for whom eating is a pleasure.


Couture Carrie said...

So true, darling!

Fabulous post!


Alecto said...

You made fantastically poignant points. I, too, love food like none other. I take joy in the texture, the text and the general delight one feels when eating a delicious meal. I cannot imagine hating something so delicious to the point of self-harm. Beautiful entry.

Solo said...

This is a great post. Keep on writing. ;D

Travel and Living
Job Hunter

Motorcycle Clothing said...

such a very nice and informative post. thanks for sharing with us...

daisychain said...

Props to you for making this post Anika
(I just hope that I don't get seen in a negative light for being a blogger with anorexia, as well, I'm fighting it. Hard)


Steph said...

This is beautifully written. I really appreciate your words of wisdom, truly. I can't lie, there are times when I feel the struggle between either viewing food as an enemy or viewing food as something to fuel my body. In today's society, it is hard, but your words are so true and this view is something I strive to keep.

great post!

Wanderlusting said...

I love food but I hate it too sometimes. Actually, I just hate that my body doesn't metabolize the foods I enjoy the most. I feel best though when I am eating something pure and fresh and healthy...then there is no guilt in the pleasure of it.

My problem is that I am dieting at the moment...dieting due to overeating and overindulging. I have to reign it in, but I look forward to eating healthy, normal portions once I'm back to maintaining my weight and living my life! That's when food and I are the bestest of friends!

Anonymous said...

some of words re really true
i like this post

knk said...

nice post i a m waiting this kind of post it will encouragement to post more

Anonymous said...

Anika this post was amazing. I just watched Miss Dahl's programme tonight and her culinary tastes are beyond yummy, but I'm also someone who is currently trying to shift extra weight, mainly for health reasons as being neither underweight nor overweight is a good thing if it impacts on your health, and being healthy is being happy. Great post! xxx

freeteyme said...

you could not have said it any better. great post!

Jenn said...

Great post! When I was younger here in the U.S., there was so much pressure on girls to be thin, some of my classmates did some serious damage to their bodies with bulimia and anorexia. Certain groups of girls would guilt each other into not eating lunch. I'm glad I never got sucked into that world. I love food and cooking, and as much as I'd love to be thinner, I'm not going to put my health at risk to do it. I hope that the girls who suffer from these disorders can become strong enough to conquer them, although I can certainly see where the pressure comes from.

By the way, thank you so much for the kind comment on my blog. It really means so much to me :)