If you’ve been with me for a while, you know how strongly I feel that guilt has no place in our relationship with food.
For this reason, I am absolutely thrilled that the San Francisco Chronicle’s new restaurant reviewer, Soleil Ho, has promised to never use the G-Word in her reviews.
Here’s what she had to say in a recent article…
“Guilt: I don’t use this word because of the harm it does to our relationship to food, especially because ‘guilt’ in this context never actually refers to things that do carry ethical weight, like cannibalism or stealing food from the hungry.
Why should anyone besides the Hamburglar, who seems to enjoy the act of larceny for the sheer thrill of it, feel guilty about their food choices?
The overwhelmingly majority of the time I’ve encountered this word in food writing or a marketing context has been about diet food, mainly directed toward girls and women: ‘guilt-free snacks,’ ‘ice cream without the guilt,’ and so on.
Criminalizing the everyday act of eating reinforces the idea that we need to punish ourselves for wanting food when we’re hungry, which encourages us to develop really screwed-up and disordered attitudes toward our own bodies.
Relatedly, I hate every time Great British Bake-off judge Prue Leith says that a pastry is good if it’s ‘worth the calories.’”
I did an extra cheer when I read Ho’s last sentence because I also cringe mightily whenever I hear Leith (or anyone else) make a comment like this.
Let’s Do This Together
My hope is that more people—from restaurant reviewers and food writers to chefs and copywriters—follow Ho’s lead and ban the word guilt when it comes to food.
You, too, can help drive this change. Notice when you find yourself saying things like:
I feel so guilty for eating all those cookies.
My guilty pleasure is a bacon double cheeseburger.
I seriously overdid it at dinner; I need to burn off all those calories tomorrow!
This chocolate fudge cake is sinfully good.
I was so bad today; I ate way too many chips.
When you do catch yourself referring to guilt or morality when talking about your food choices (or someone else’s), turn it into an opportunity to practice a new way of speaking to yourself and others about food—one that is unconditional, empowering and liberating rather than criminalizing, punitive and oppressive.