Throughout the year so far, there has been a countless amount of food trends sweeping the country and congesting our Instagram feeds: the hugely popular acai bowls – however you pronounce them, courgetti the answer for those looking for a lighter dinner, and beetroot burgers, inspired by our neighbours from across the pond are just a few of the most desired dishes of 2017. However, it seems amongst the brightly coloured photos and hashtags galore, a new ‘trend’ has grown in popularity. Food guilt. In the most common form, felt by those desperately seeking to stay on the straight and narrow path towards a health goal when they indulge in a perhaps not so nutritional treat. Though arguably now, an unconventional side of that trend has gained momentum – food guilt that is triggered by the judgment given out to those also who may also want to opt for an alternative, perhaps healthier option. Arguably, as well as the traditional food guilt we have all experienced at some point after feasting on our 2nd Domino’s in 3 days or gorging on a 4th malteaser bunny 3 months after Easter, it appears that people are now also confronted with food guilt for sticking to a certain diet or avoiding particular food groups.
Food guilt whether it be the consequence of dietary choices, having that weekly portion of fish & chips, or going in for that 3rd digestive when everyone else stopped at 2 is something that can easily trigger an unhealthy obsession with food. It may be said that this ‘trend’ isn’t helped by nutritional advice frequently handed out by unqualified or misinformed people on an array of social media platforms. With vast differences of opinion seen throughout every other post or article, trying to strike a balance between what we want to eat, what we should eat and what others are telling us to eat can only result in a sticky mess of guilt, frustration, and confusion. Though many now take such unsupported opinion with a pinch of salt, deciding what to fuel our bodies with has never been more of a minefield.
With brands continuing to use tactful marketing to entice consumers with ‘low-fat content’ or ‘ new sugar-free recipes’ without being the person who checks every single food label, how can we even begin to establish a complete guilt-free diet? With food as simple as a banana coming hand in hand with some news article highlighting its high sugar content and devil-like effects on our bodies, some may be led to believe a diet full of nothing but raw, green root vegetables is the only way to avoid food guilt of any sorts – even then someone may tell you about the latest new findings that say otherwise. Though a potentially exaggerated example, food guilt is arguably becoming something suffered by more and more people. As with anything, balance is always at the core of striking a middle ground between killing yourself over the pizza slice you ate at 3.am. and not allowing any kind of guilt to dictate your enjoyment of food and everyday life. With many hoping for a change in attitudes throughout the food industry sooner rather than later, for now, equipping yourself with a little well-informed nutritional knowledge might ease the guilt we all do unfortunately experience sometimes, whether justified or not.