You Are Not What You Eat

     You are what you eat… Isn’t that what they say? Honestly, people are playing mind games if this is truthfully their belief. It just makes no sense, and is most likely some ploy they use to save all the best cookies for themselves.

Glazed and red velvet doughnuts at  Harold's Doughnuts  in Columbia, Missouri.

Glazed and red velvet doughnuts at Harold's Doughnuts in Columbia, Missouri.

     Think about it, how would anybody describe themselves? Maybe intelligent, or funny, or slightly ditzy. Some will say they are an athlete, a student, a mother, or a lawyer. These are common descriptors set aside for a human being. Not one person will attribute terms such as salty, crunchy, or tasty to themselves. Except, maybe, salty, some people are definitely salty.

     The message, “you are what you eat,” is an expression to help people make better dietary choices, but the message itself is unhealthy. Back to those cookies, if someone is happily eating a cookie, wouldn’t most people be able to correctly claim that that individual is, indeed, happy? Whatever it is someone is eating, it cannot measure their true being.

     In 2016, research published in Child Development examines one thousand sixty-four 6- to 7-year-olds. The sample size is representative of boys (49 percent) and girls (51 percent) in 29 Oklahoma schools. The results conclude that body shaming starts at as early an age as 6 years old, when kids who are over-weight are less likely to be welcomed into social circles (Harrist).

     Another study, by Common Sense Media, found that boys and girls as young as 6 years old already have the idea that their current weight is heavier than what is ideal. Maybe this is because of a false image presented to them in the media. Of female TV characters between the ages of 10 and 17, 87 percent are underweight.

     These kids are too young to understand that genetics are a major player in deciding body type. Some people work hard, for a few hours a day, in order to maintain a toned tummy. A lot of people never step foot in a gym, yet will never have to experience the immediate need to unbutton their pants after a feast. Everybody envies the person who is 125 pounds and eats four large meals a day, plus dessert. While there are those of us who shame ourselves into the shadows because eating 1000 calories a day just will not shed the extra pounds.

     Ultimately, it’s not about the food you eat, but about the lifestyle you live. Why not say, “you are how you feel,” or “you are what you believe”? Either statement will produce a much more accurate representation of a person. It is time we stop incorporating food into every thought and conversation. Eliminate those comparisons entirely, because I know, for a fact, I am much, much more than the brownie that is currently nestled in my stomach.


Common Sense Media. (2015, January). Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image. A Common Sense Research Brief. Retrieved from

Harrist, A. W., Swindle, T. M., Hubbs-Tait, L., Topham, G. L., Shriver, L. H. and Page, M. C. (2016), The Social and Emotional Lives of Overweight, Obese, and Severely Obese Children. Child Development, 87: 1564–1580. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12548