There’s a constant negotiation process happening, and unfortunately, it’s not in parliament. The obsessive method in which we relentlessly inspect and dissect our food and bodies has taken on a new form with the amplification of social media. There’s likely no better viewing point of this relationship than through the lens of Dara Gurau, a Registered Dietitian and co-creator of the popular food blog – How to Eat. Through her presence at one of the biggest hospitals in Canada and through her voice online and through speaking engagements, Dara’s knowledge and unique perspective challenges the preconceived notions that we have when it comes to food. “Why can’t we just eat and live in the bodies we live in. Why can’t we aim for healthy behaviours instead? Instead of focusing on weight, we should be focusing on behaviour changes instead.”
She herself fell prey to this never-ending diet hamster wheel when just at university, and the freshman weight found her. She was surrounded by friends who were smaller and felt influenced to follow suit. Running more and eating less, people took notice and started to comment about how amazing she looked – this validated what she was already thinking, so she doubled down on her efforts, cutting out carbs, eventually developing an eating disorder. It was only when she sunk her teeth into the nutrition program at Ryerson that she knew she need to break the pattern. “I wanted to help people who had that same mentality, I understood how people got this way. It took me years to be at a place that I can just look at food as food. Even when I was better, and eating everything, it was still in the back of my mind.”
And that was before the stranglehold of social media. Someone with 10 million followers will naturally have more clout than the account that preaches evidence-based nutrition to only 50 followers. The sheep mentality is a human condition, the constant goal-setting and inevitable failure only leads us back to the vicious cycle of dieting, something Dara is dead-set against. “I’m a dietitian, so of course I think people should eat fruits and vegetables. But there’s a way to approach it. Not eating foods because you think you have to, but because you want to. Anything that is telling you to eat a certain food, or cut out something, it’s a diet. I don’t care if you label it a lifestyle change, it’s a diet. You’re restricting food, that’s a diet.” Alluding to Christy Harrison’s book the Anti-Diet in which she calls diets a ‘Life Thief’, Dara is adamant about relaxing around food, especially around kids.
While she admits that she once used to grocery shop and buy whatever looked good, after going to #CanolaConnect Harvest Camp seven years ago, she learned to read labels and understand food on a whole other level. Seeing crops growing in Canadian soil firsthand, and having the opportunity to ask questions about pesticides, GMO’s and preservatives pushed her to scan past the labels and take in everything else that goes into food production. Extracting ourselves from the fear-based marketing and over-complicated relationship we have with food are the first steps we collectively need to take, as a society, to getting back to what food is meant to be: enjoyable.
Eat Well…Libby Roach
Libby is a food editor at auburnlane.com and photographer based out of Toronto, ON.
Her creative passion lies in weaving stories into photographs and creating images that are engaging.