A popular food TikToker had the perfect response for a critic who tried to label one of her recipes “unhealthy.”
Justine E., co-host of body acceptance and food freedom podcast “The Body Pod,” recently shared a delightful recipe for vegan garlic knots on her TikTok, where she has amassed over 96,000 followers.
The clever hack, which substitutes tofu for oil and some of the flour in the traditional bread treat, was in response to a follower who asked Justine to create a “healthier” version of garlic knots.
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Justine doesn’t comment on exactly what makes this iteration healthier than a pizzeria’s, but logic dictates that by subbing in protein-dense tofu for just about any ingredient will make the knots more satisfying and allow them to keep you feeling full for longer.
Still, a handful of TikTok users took issue with her recipe, with one commenting, “nothing about this is ‘healthy.’”
In a response video that has since gone viral, Justine addressed the critic while taking down the dangerous myth of how particular food can be labeled as either “healthy” or “unhealthy.”
“Let’s make a ‘healthy’ sandwich and talk this out,” Justine narrates, as she makes herself a spicy tofu sandwich. “I had an eating disorder from age 14 to 23, a pretty bad one — binge-purge, if you want to get specific. My binges started because of a restricted diet that I put myself on at age 12 and my purges came because society told me that my body wasn’t enough.”
“I’m three years recovered, thank God, and part of that is because I removed all judgments and labels from my food,” she continued. “Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe certain foods have a huge impact on how it makes us feel. But, I also know that ‘healthy’ means something totally different for everyone. So for me, this spicy tofu sandwich with nutritional yeast, avocado, cheddar, and bread is healthy, mostly because of the carefree mindset that comes with it. And, you know, we only live once, so I’m not gonna spend my time arguing about bread.”
Justine’s followup video has since racked up more than 830,000 views and tons of supportive comments, with some people even sharing their own definitions of the word “healthy” as it pertains to their eating habits.
“‘Healthy’ for me is just not obsessing over food/calories/macros etc,” one user wrote. “As in if I eat pizza without guilt/shame/thought I’m eating healthy.”
“From my ED, and my recovery, eating ANYTHING is a lot healthier than eating nothing at all,” shared another.
“Thank you so much for sharing, I didn’t know I needed this audio but I really, really did,” said a third.
Jennifer Sommer-Dirks, a registered dietician and the nutrition manager at Eating Recovery Center in Denver, Colo., explains that categorizing specific foods under the healthy-unhealthy dichotomy can cause us to use misguided judgment when considering the foods we choose to eat or avoid.
“I don’t believe in good or bad foods,” she previously wrote in a post for the center’s website. “That is putting a lot of judgment on the food, which often becomes judgment on ourselves if we eat that food.”
“When it comes to being non-judgmental about food, I always give the example of water,” she continued. “Water tends to be thought of as good, and it’s true that we need it to survive. However, if you drink too much, you can dilute your electrolytes, feel awful, and even die.”
“Water is not good or bad,” she added. “Food is not good or bad. We need these things, but should not overdo them either.”
This type of mindset is particularly important to practice for those who have struggled with or are currently battling disordered eating patterns, as they may be keener to “punish” themselves for eating foods they’ve dubbed “unhealthy.”
No food is inherently good or bad — food is meant to fuel and nourish our bodies, and, of course, to be enjoyed. Go get that bread.
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