Why "Guiltless", "Skinny", & "Sinless" Foods Will Wreck Your Diet




All of these words are used to describe countless recipes, foods, and products. They promise "all the satisfaction with 1/2 the calories!" and to leave you feeling "guilt-free". It's like having your cake and eating it too! (mmm cake). But they all have one, major, MAJOR problem.


They impose morality on food. 


Have you ever made a recipe that called for 2 Tbsp of guilt? Or perhaps, 1/4 cup of regret and a dash of shame? I don't think so.  By labeling things with terms like "skinny" or "sinless", we impose morality on our food. We imply that this "skinny" version is somehow better and superior than the regular (implication: fat) version because "skinny" is seen as more highly valued in our society. These implications have real ramifications - people feel bad, they feel like they fail, and that can deter people from actually succeeding at whatever their goals may  be.  You can't feel better about yourself if you're berating yourself for choosing the "sinful" version of something over the "sinless" version.

We have to ask, do we derail people's dietary efforts by imposing morality on food?



And I get it. Fitness and health marketing is 90% clickbait. I mean, check out the title of this post - it's flashy, it's a little clickbaity, and you probably thought you were getting into an article about something entirely different.  And is there anything inherently bad about making lower calorie/fat/carb/whatever versions of someone's favorite foods or drinks? Absolutely not. I know it's hard to "sell" something that doesn't have those terms in it when you're describing that sort of product - we don't really have a lot of non-value laden terms to describe those things. Honestly, I don't think the use of those labels is in someway malicious or done with ill intentions, but it is illustrative of how pervasive the idea of "food guilt" really is.

But I do think that removing moralistic terms is important. I think divorcing morality from food is incredibly important. And I think that, even small linguistic changes like not calling something "guiltless",  can have big impacts. And even further than that, I think an individual's decouple morality from food for themselves is HUGE. It's not easy, I mean clearly that stuff runs deeeep, but it is a worthy pursuit.


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