Fritter on a white plate, garnished with white sauce and herbs
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Why I Disagree With Diet Culture

Soap box moment: I respectfully disagree with any diet advice that discourages people from enjoying food or wine in moderation and going out for a meal. As far as I’m concerned, being skinny isn’t worth depriving oneself of a basic pleasure in life. Working out is important for physical health. It is not just for losing weight or being a certain size. You can be fit and healthy at any weight. That’s something only you and your doctor can determine. If a doctor tells you to avoid a certain food because of an allergy or medical reason like diabetes, then that’s a legitimate reason to avoid a certain food.

I became a chef for three reasons. One-I love the creativity that cooking affords me. It is an art just like any other medium and it allows me to express who I am and to share that with others. Two-As someone who has struggled with anorexia and body dysmorphia, it has been a form of therapy for me to create delicious things and feed others. It helps me to view food with less fear and to normalize all foods as neutral, not good and bad. Three and most important-As an anthropologist who studied food and culture, food to me has always been the most important aspect of cultural expression and of social interaction. There is no better way to learn about others than through food and there is no greater joy than sharing a meal with others. It is integral to social and mental health and I firmly believe that many of the worlds problems could be solved by individuals breaking bread together.

And one last note. Yes, consuming alcohol is drinking your calories. I’m not encouraging alcoholism, but wine production has existed for millennia. Wine is an art form and it’s consumption is part of the experience of a fine meal. All it takes is visiting a winery to see the intricate, delicate and loving production involved in creating a perfect glass of wine.

I take my job tremendously seriously. I may never win a James Beard award or get a Michelin star, but I put just as much love and care into what I do as any other chef. I care about the ingredients I use, I care about how they affect the environment, I care about how they make you feel and I care about how they appeal to all your senses. But most of all, I care about creating a memorable experience for you that you can take away with you and think of fondly and with nostalgia.

So yes, please take care of yourself, exercise, drink your fluids, take care of your health both physical and mental, but never forget that this life is more than just being a size 0. Food consumption is only a moral issue in so much as how it affects the environment, animals and other human beings through its production. But beyond that, food is a necessary part of survival and in my eyes that includes feeding your heart, mind and human connection.

End of rant.

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