Craft For The Soul Eat Pip-Life

Have Your Pie And Eat It Too

May 12, 2015

image by Sarah of The Sugar Hit – recipe here


I read this piece over on Femsplain this morning and it really made a lot of sense to me. (I found it via Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls on Twitter. The piece was written by the excellent Anna Phillips.)

The first reason it made sense is because I too have dropped a cherry pie in the cafeteria. And by dropped I mean that someone came up behind me and punched me in the back, sending the pie flying from my hands into a crusty, sweet pile on the floor. And by cherry pie, I mean that it was actually an apricot pie. And by in the cafeteria, I mean outside the tuckshop window. But basically it is the same. Pie fling.

The second reason it made sense is because of the whole woman/food/guilt equation. And by that I mean what the heck?! The concept  of dessert guilt rang true for me – and let’s face it, it rings true for everyone because terms like ‘sometimes foods’ and ‘treats’ and ‘guilty pleasures’ don’t exist for no reason. Pie shame.

Granted, we know a lot more about what to eat and how to be healthy these days because of SCIENCE. But we’re also bombarded relentlessly with information about why we shouldn’t eat so many of the most delicious things too, because of NOT SCIENCE.

Butter is bad. And then it’s good. Oil. Bad. Unless it’s good. Sugar. Dairy. Gluten. Fruit. Animal products. Raw onions. Things from the shops. Things from the sea. Things grown in the ground. These are sometimes good but usually bad, apparently. It’s very hard to keep up and know what to chow down on. Faced with these decisions, more and more of us are probably having a glass of warm water with lemon and Googling desperately for virtuous fodder.

It’s a confusing kind of nutritional algebra basically, but no one knows what x and y are and the person trying to teach us is actually someone that was once on American Idol. Or something. It’s all QUITE hard and we’re left either hungry, smug or wracked with guilt a lot of the time.

Food vs people has now reached the point where, when you raise something to your mouth, there are flashes of diet book selling media stars playing out before you. It’s sort of like in cartoons when characters saw stars, except the stars are the onion eating, fruit eating, fruit-not-eating, grain not-eating, grain eating dietary oracles (and thankfully we didn’t just get hit on the head with an anvil. Phew.)

That said, it’s not just nutritional media stars (often of questionable ‘health’ themselves) and onion-feasting politicians (often of questionable character) that are fuelling this food = guilt thing. Many of us are constantly talking about diet (I do it too!) sending subtle and less subtle messages/judgements about the good, the bad and the ugly of food. We’re all trying to do our best and be our best, but in the process we’re fuelling a totally dysfunctional relationship between food and human beings. At its worst this plays out as orthorexia. At its best (if there even is such a thing) it’s a constant, nagging feeling that food is…. BAD. Ugh. Food is something to be suspicious of. Food is something to be measured. Food is something to be restricted. Food is something to arms-length.

Our quest to be the best we can be nutritionally has somehow resulted in us equating food with worth. Many are measuring their worth by the things they choose not to eat and a whole lot of this healthy eating is DEFINITELY tied up in the quest for ‘perfection’, hotness and thin thighs (despite protests that it’s about health and wellness). This perfection/hotness/thin-thigh connection is obvious because the thin thighs and ‘hotness’ are being flashed about very often by the people selling us their kind of ‘health’ food. VERY often. (I’m not sure what perfection part of the equation even looks like, but I know it seems a lot like boringness and joylessness.)

Let’s go back to that worth-related point – Many are measuring their worth by the things they choose not to eat. Denying ourselves stuff has become a badge of honour and a marker of discipline and strength. Further, people, especially women, eating the food they want to eat is now an act of defiance. A feisty, political statement. How did it come to this?

I, for one, am going to stop being part of this whole mess. I’m going to shut up about food from now on – unless I’m talking about how great it is or how you should cook a yum thing. I’m going to work on my relationship with the delicious thing that fuels us. I’m going to eat the things I like, in the way I like them. And I’m going to do all the other things that make me feel happy and glad to be alive too.

Have your pie and eat it too. Know that you are what you eat, which means you are delicious and mouth-watering. GO YOU.

x Pip

PS: Thanks to Femsplain for talking about this and thanks to Smart Girls for the tip-off.

Sarah’s Salted Caramel Bourbon Apple Pie (below) recipe is here.




  • Reply erin @ May 18, 2015 at 8:22 PM

    Yes! Food is morally neutral. Not good or bad. Great work, Pip.

  • Reply CC May 16, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    Hey Pip, I just want to say Hi, sorry to be such a stranger, busy with work and kids… but last weekend we (day #2 and I) made your gnocchi recipe from yonks ago (with the tomato based sauce that had paprika in it) and it was fabulous yet again
    and thank you.
    Also you make sense.
    I love cherry pie and apple pie and gnocchi.
    I love cooking and transferring love and effort into my food and I think you do too.

  • Reply Lila May 13, 2015 at 7:20 AM

    I get it I really do. I know people assume I don’t enjoy food or deprive myself because I have a restrictive diet. Or that I restrict food to restrict my body (which is hilarious as I just spent the last few weeks making sure I had a bit more weight on for winter and I rarely see anyone complaining about others making them feel bad try to gain weight.)
    But my biggest problem with this push back against caring about your diet is what it does to parents in my position. Parents of kids like mine who have both allergies and intolerances are increasingly being treated like they’re making it up. Sentences like “food is not the enemy” are thrown at us and people wilfully feed our children things that make them sick or cause behavioural issues because they think we are being silly (at best, causing eating disorders at worst). You know food actually can be the enemy and while lots of people have the pleasure of being flippant with artificial things crammed into their food I don’t. We pay for it with days of a chaotic and very unhappy household and an actually really sick child.
    While I totally agree that food should be pleasurable ( and I do enjoy food a lot). I don’t think that people who care about eating clean or paleo or whatever their thing is are the cause of other people’s food guilt. If looking at someone, even the worst examples of the group, makes someone feel bad about food then they need to tune out of that channel and work on their issues relating to food and themselves. After all we don’t blame bloggers with big statistics that share their methods for making new or small bloggers feel bad, so perhaps people need to step away from the comparison here too?

    • Reply Meet Me At Mikes May 13, 2015 at 7:55 AM

      I guess for me, the problem arises when people are vulnerable and feel bad about themselves – and these ubiquitous movements claim to have all the answers and have a HUGE following. People fall into the trap of assuming numbers = legitimacy. The loudest voices must have something to say. Etc.

      ALSO – I think allergies/health conditions are not part of this discussion at all – those are legitimate, serious and vital reasons for avoiding certain foods.

      I’m talking more about the trends led by vanity and fashion here – and how they are MESSING up not only grown ups, but the next generation of eaters – digital natives who may be seeing restriction and denial as a normal way of life.

      • Reply lila May 13, 2015 at 9:08 AM

        I see what you’re saying, but as someone who was raised with some pretty insidious body shaming and worked on myself to get past that I think it’s important to be focusing on teaching critical thinking and resilience rather than blaming those preaching denial (although I’m not sure I’m comfortable with labelling it as denial).
        Unfortunately allergies are part of the discussion owing to the groups that as part of the push back against the HLB decry allergies and intolerances as made up, which does affect those of us having to avoid certain foods. Especially when that leads to the kind of blasé attitude in cafes and restaurants who will serve dishes without any regard to cross-contamination (and believe me that’s not uncommon).
        I do think that as parents it’s important to teach our kids healthy attitudes toward food and the skills to not fall prey to trends.

        • Reply Meet Me At Mikes May 13, 2015 at 9:14 AM

          I guess what I’m saying is that I wasn’t writing about allergies and health conditions – of course you are totally free to discuss those things – but I wasn’t writing about that AT ALL and I would never marginalise such a group. That’s what I meant. Sorry not to be clearer.

          I am sure you KNOW I am a big promoter of critical thinking, but I’m concerned that along the way, people get swept up before they get to thinking more deeply about this stuff. Especially younger women.

          • Lila May 13, 2015 at 10:20 AM

            Absolutely and I’m sorry I did come off as very touchy about that, thinking of all the other stuff floating on this issue rather than focusing on what you’re saying.
            I do love that you’re a big promoter of critical thinking, which is why I mention how important I think it is in this melding of digital and offline worlds.
            It is so important that there’s a supportive voice telling young people (and older ones) to shift through all the noise to figure out what’s right for them and makes them happy. In the end we all have to work on our issues ourselves and free ourselves from them, no-one can do that for us. But it’s very nice to have support while we do that.

          • Meet Me At Mikes May 13, 2015 at 10:55 AM

            I think it’s clear that food is such an emotional issue, isn’t it? I like it that we can find ways to talk about the tricky issues – but it’s not always easy, right? x

    • Reply Nadine June 18, 2015 at 9:35 PM

      Hi Pip,
      I came across this by complete accident but can I just say thankyou. I have recently had a daughter and I have been thinking so hard about how I can avoid passing onto her my fear of what I eat……..that old cry “once on the lips, forever on the hips”. I hate to think of my beautiful baby girl as a beautiful young woman thinking her hips at any size are anything short of perfect and that she deserves to enjoy and take pleasure in food rather than having it be a mental mind field.

  • Reply matt May 12, 2015 at 8:55 PM

    Oh, it had to happen *sigh* the first irresponsible and silly thing I’ve ever seen Pip Lincoln write. This is as daft as saying “heroin USED to be good for us (it was an over-the-counter medicine) NOW it’s bad for us, therefore each notion cancels the other out and BAM, I’m just gonna enjoy my dang’ heroin.” Was this post sponsored by Kellogg’s and Monsanto? What gives Pip?

    I don’t ‘worry’ about food. I just eat good stuff. Organic stuff (when I can afford it) grass-fed stuff. Stuff that didn’t have to go to a factory and have stuff ‘done to it’ before getting to my shop. I enjoy discovering NEW stuff. I celebrate and am in awe of this. This cooking-lark is a new thing for a reformed dinning-out 5 times per week boy. Food is our fuel (for our souls too in many ways 😉 ) and while we CAN survive (well, many of us) on the frankenstuff and the unnatural-stuff, we THRIVE on the good stuff. What’s wrong with thriving over surviving? Especially if it makes us happier AND sexier?

    • Reply Meet Me At Mikes May 12, 2015 at 9:02 PM

      I think you have misunderstood what I’ve written. This is a post about eating the things you love – what makes you feel good – and about making your own choices – without feeling guilty. All in moderation – food as a good thing, not a bad thing. Did you think i was saying processed food is good? Or something? I really was not! What I am saying is that your relationship with food should not be one of good and bad – but rather one of making choices that make sense to you and enjoying life. If you want pie, eat pie! Where does Monsanto or Kelloggs or processed food come into my post – which is celebrating how great food is?! I think you actually have a similar view to me…!

  • Reply Rachell May 12, 2015 at 7:36 PM

    Basically it’s: everything in moderation. In a nut shell.
    Enjoy your pie Pip!

    • Reply matt May 12, 2015 at 8:59 PM

      “Everything in moderation” was first spread by the confectionary and biscuit conglomerates. It’s a naff notion that ‘sounds’ good, but it doesn’t work. Lots of people follow this flawed premise and they still get fat and they still get cancer and they still live shorter, less vibrant lives than they deserve. It’s arguably the best bit of marketing and the most dangerous sentence in the food world.

      • Reply Meet Me At Mikes May 12, 2015 at 9:07 PM

        Thanks for your view – I am guessing you have worked out what you like to eat and what makes you feel good – and you are doing that. So that’s ace.

      • Reply Rachel May 13, 2015 at 1:46 AM

        No, it’s what my Mum used to say and I think it’s very sensible advice. 😉

        Organic food has not been found to have any proven health benefit.

        • Reply Meet Me At Mikes May 13, 2015 at 6:55 AM

          I agree with you Rach.

          I am not sure how things got to this – I think Matt has misunderstood what I’ve written about… But he’s entitled to his views and I’m glad he’s happy. (Not so glad he’s gotten quite snotty here and called my work silly and irresponsible, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles!)

          Hope you are okay! x

  • Reply Ngaire May 12, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    Thank you Pip for sharing! If I want to enjoy the process of making and eating pan fried gnocchi with a creamy mushroom and blue cheese sauce then I will! The process of cooking the meal makes me just as happy as eating it, so I will enjoy it. As I sit and watch other people eat, I know that I am happy because I am eating something I made for myself and have enjoyed every minute of it.

  • Reply Karen May 12, 2015 at 3:47 PM

    Amen. Such wise words. I was just checking out a caramel slice recipe this morning. I often tell the story to my girls about a friend and I spending most of Year 10 buying a caramel slice from the canteen EVERY recess. I don’t know if you could find a school canteen that would sell them now. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I plan on making one just for the sheer joy of it and sharing it with my family. Hopefully it will be as good as I remember!

  • Reply Kate May 12, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    After watching my teen daughter battle an eating disorder for the last 3 years, I’m OVER it!
    Since when did food become the enemy?

  • Reply Jess May 12, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    Thank you, Pip. I completely agree.

    I love the guys at Body Positive – – they are on about this too!

    Yay for pie!

  • Reply Rebecca Jee May 12, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes! I cannot tell you how much better my mental health and all round well being has been since I a) decided no more diets, b) decided no more fat talk, c) decided to love how I look and accept this is the way my body is built, d) enjoy food for its own sake because food is bloody amazing.

    So much happier. So much happier to get excited about cooking something lovely and enjoying it than to obsess over how much fat or whatever is in it. So much happier enjoying a tasty macaron than counting out how many almonds I could have for a very unsatisfying morning tea (yes I actually did that). So much happier not having pretty much the entire Weight Watchers points system memorised (there are SO many other, more worthwhile things to put in my brain!). So much happier than thinking about food all. the. time.

    The different way of thinking actually feels so nurturing and lovely and self-caring. And freeing!

    (You may not want to read any books around it, but three that I read that I love are Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon (best name ever), Screw Inner Beauty by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby) and Out of Shape: Debunking Myths About Fashion and Fit by Mel Campbell)

  • Reply lucy May 12, 2015 at 8:27 AM


    BRILLIANT, pip.

    precisely why i’ve stopped talking (and thinking and worrying) about food.

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