Just in time for Halloween, some frightening posts appeared on my Facebook feed. Titled, "You ate it. . . Now negate it!" the posts featured pictures of popular Halloween candies, alongside their calorie contents and the amount of exercise required to burn them off. That mini Snickers that sang to you from your leftover stash? That'll be 50 burpees. Similar charts popped up on the websites of fitness and nutrition professionals, in newspapers and on newscasts, and, lest you think these warnings are targeted only at women, in a popular men's magazine.
In addition to the fact that nutrition science has largely dispelled the calories-in/calories-out myth, as we now know that weight is a complex biological phenomenon, these messages fuel a disordered eating mentality - suggesting that we must compensate through exercise for what we eat and making fitness a remorseful chore, rather than a way to strengthen and honor your body.
As I've written prior, this mimics the unfortunate practice of many fitness professionals, who similarly promote exercise as penance for eating, propagating our culture's disordered mentality - in a setting that's supposed to be healthy.
My advice? Keep intake and exercise separate. Engage in exercise because it promotes physical and psychological health and because it allows you to feel alive. If you enjoy Halloween candy, a fancy coffee drink, or simply, that extra serving of fettuccine, don't atone via exercise, subsequent restriction, or any other type of compensation. Just move on with your life. . . .
You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at BarnesandNoble.com.