Food Philosophy

On Food Positivity

Food Positivity

In the midst of the holiday season, I’ve been thinking a lot about our relationship with food and how we cannot seem to have a conversation about what we eat without talking about weight. 

During this time of year, we typically gather around food in abundance to celebrate with friends and family, then shoo it away in a resolution to lose weight in the New Year. 

That doesn’t feel like a healthy relationship.

In its most basic function, food is what keeps us alive, what nourishes our bodies to function. But food is also much more than that. It’s a cultural identity, a familial gathering place, a way to celebrate or experience happiness, and a means to find comfort in times of sadness or stress. 

Food has also become inextricably linked with weight and the concept of body image. Specifically, it’s the thing that we manipulate in an effort to control our weight. We focus on calories in versus calories out in an attempt to fit into smaller jeans and the image of what we think our bodies are “supposed” to be, even though it has been proven that weight is not an indication of overall health.

We all wrestle with this undeniable tie between food and weight. I certainly have, and the more I talk  with others about their health and nutrition journeys, the more I understand the struggles we face in the diet culture we live in. We continuously try to categorize certain foods and portion sizes as “good” or  “bad” in an effort to manage our bodies and make sense of it.

But yet, doesn’t it seem like the more we try to control what we eat as a means toward this end, the less in control we feel? In an effort to focus on what or how much we “should” be eating, we become more distanced from finding joy in our food, and therefore more likely to set ourselves up for diet cycling – being “good” for a while, then “bad,” feeling guilty, and course-correcting with something “healthy.” These cycles can happen multiple times over the course of a single day, and they certainly don’t make us feel confident in ourselves or our food choices. 

I catch myself doing this – especially in my recent experience being pregnant and postpartum. It was uncomfortable at times for me to put on the necessary pounds to grow my baby and to understand my new and different shape after birth. My body went through an incredible transformation to become a mother, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of feeling out of control or considering what I eat as a means to return to a previous version of my body. 

I’m certainly not perfect, nor do I think there is an ultimate level of achievement to reach in this process – I simply want to continue making progress in noticing these thoughts, releasing them, and focusing instead on giving my body the nourishment it deserves, regardless of my  age and life stage. I strive to trust that if I give my body what it needs to thrive, it will.

So here’s my challenge in the midst of this holiday season and new year: let’s untangle the knot between food and weight.

→ What if at every meal we ate, we didn’t think about how it would affect the way we look, but rather how it makes us feel? 

→ What if we gave ourselves permission to simply enjoy – without feeling guilty, or needing to “burn off” that holiday meal later?

→ What if we started a Food Positivity movement, similar to the now popular concept of Body Positivity? 

I think if we could do that, we would find ourselves in a much healthier, happier, place.

We would thoroughly enjoy meals with our family. We would have more energy, and maybe even use that energy to focus on things more important than body size, like our health and emotional wellbeing. Imagine what we could accomplish if we collectively shifted our energy toward food positivity – I think it could be really powerful.

So how do we move forward? I noticed a positive shift in my own perspective about food when I started focusing on food quality over calories. By not focusing on restricting my intake, but instead viewing each meal as an opportunity to consume more nutrients, has helped me break away from the cycle of good and bad, and just focus on how what I eat makes me feel. It has helped me remove guilt from the equation, because I see food as an opportunity to nourish, not as an enemy in the battle of my body size.

I want to focus on quality, because I want people to love food again. Food is not our adversary, and it should not be a variable that we simply manipulate in pursuit of an idealized physical appearance. I want us to focus on eating real foods, not obsessing over how much we’re eating, or if we’re eating the “right” foods because if we’re nourishing our bodies, it becomes so much easier to tune into our hunger cues and consume what our bodies need.

Food should bring us joy, and it should provide fuel to our bodies so that we may be the best versions of ourselves. The quality of our food matters because what’s in our food is what brings energy to every cell. This affects not only our physical health, but our mental and emotional health as well.

Focusing on quality also means identifying how what we eat makes us feel, and understanding the impact it has on our long term health. 

So what are better quality foods?

  • Whole Foods:
    • Fresh foods in their natural state: made with fresh fruits, veggies, quality meats and whole grains.
    • Ideally, foods that don’t come in a package.
  • Organic: 
    • Non-GMO and grown without pesticides or other chemicals
  • Free from harmful ingredients: 
    • Ingredients like vegetable or canola oil, refined sugar, preservatives, flavorings, colorings and MSG are highly processed and do not enable our bodies to thrive.
    • Look for ingredients on food labels that you can pronounce.

This does not mean you should strive to eliminate any particular food from your life completely – even the most processed kind – if it’s something you truly love and your body can tolerate. The key here is just paying attention to how foods make you feel and tuning in to enjoy them to the fullest.

Everyone is unique, and certain foods will affect our bodies differently. One diet does not fit all, so aside from these basic guidelines on food quality, it’s important to tune in to what works best for you and your body. Do you feel terrible after eating gluten? Drinking caffeine? Consuming dairy? It’s great to start paying attention to those things and shifting your diet accordingly to feel your best. This should be customized for each individual – it’s important you choose foods that make you feel like the best version of you. 

I hope that by shifting our focus to quality over calories, we can see food differently. We can distance the act of eating from that of stepping on the scale, and we can live healthier, happier, and more freely by embracing food as nourishment for our bodies that we love.

If you’ve made it through this rant, I’m impressed – and would love to hear your thoughts 🙂 Send me a private note or post a comment below so we can keep the conversation going. 

8 comments on “On Food Positivity

  1. Well said Julia! I love you and I am very proud of you. I love the idea of focusing on food positivity. Nourishment of our bodies and appreciation of what our bodies can do is crucial. It is hard in our current culture but it is encouraging that people like you are willing to share their thoughts on this important topic.


  2. Couldn’t agree more! It’s so important to see food as a source of nourishment and not something we need to deprive ourselves of in order to be healthy. Whole foods are so much better for our bodies than “fat-free” or “sugar-free” versions. Great point about listening to your body, especially with the increasing evidence that people process macronutrients differently. There is so much more to health and weight than calories-in, calories-out..thanks for sharing ❤


    • Your response means so much to me! I totally agree. It’s so much more nourishing both physically and mentally to focus on getting more of the good stuff rather than trying to limit the “bad.” Thanks for your support ❤


  3. Hiya Julia, very well said!! There are times where I can feel myself eating just for the sake of it & the wrong things!! I don’t eat enough fruit & veg, drink too much caffeine (at work mostly – not too bad at the weekends.
    I really never thought of food the way you’ve described it, and you are so right. When I’m on a downer I seem to increase my intake of “rubbish” foods

    Thanks for sharing this
    Mel Dalziel


    • Hi Mel! Thanks so much for reading and for your response. It’s such a tough balance, but I do think that coming at diet from the perspective of nourishing my body because I love and care about it, not because I feel like I “should” in an effort to look a certain way is a good place to start. I’m still working on this every day – it’s such a process 🙂


  4. well said!! and totally agree! as a sleep deprived new mama i find food is my most powerful force of energy that’s accessible- and a little chocolate per day makes me happy as well 🙂 it took some practice to get where i am- enjoying all i eat and letting go of guilt and wow is it liberating and feels so nourishing when we honor what our body needs. certainly a practice of self love as well…an ongoing practice ❤️


    • Love that – a practice of self love is so well put. And absolutely an ongoing practice. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts ❤️ I think going through pregnancy and being a mom shifts our perspective in so many ways.


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