Mislabelled Food and Other Invisible Forces That Go Against Our Attempts to Be Healthy

Valuable and simple eating advice I’ve adopted from living in Japan

Something I do at ice cream shops that might come off as a little weird

I don’t think I’m a crazy health nut. I love to eat vegetables as much as I love indulging in desserts, and I love whipping up a nice salad as much as I like enjoying a crispy pork katsu sandwich. But while I’m not a picky eater and don’t have any dietary restrictions, I can empathize with those who get the weird side-eye when eating out. For whenever I go to an ice cream parlor in the U.S. I always do something that my friends often find a bit off — I order the kiddie size.

Kiddie size, baby size, mini size — there are many names for it, but I always get the smallest ice cream scoop. Sometimes the people around me will comment, “Are you on a diet or something?” or “You’re not fat! Why are you restricting yourself?” but no, it’s never that.

The kiddie size is my normal ice cream size. For me, it’s mislabelled.

What’s normal in Japan, is seen as depriving in the U.S.

The thing is, I don’t see it as a health hack to ‘trick’ myself into eating smaller portions. The kiddie portion is what I would receive if I were to order a regular size in Japan, and so the kiddie portion is what I order when I’m in the United States. The choice is not about restricting myself — it’s about choosing what is appropriate for me.

If you base your standards of appropriateness on what your environment tells you, your health will always be chaotic.

As an adult, it can feel weird when you order a ‘kiddie’ or ask for a short size drink when it isn’t even listed on the regular menu. It feels like something someone on a special diet would do, or doing something unordinary in the name of healthy eating — ordering the ‘tiny’ size is what people who are restraining themselves do, right?

To eat well, internalize your own sense of normal

But I do it all the time — it’s the size that I know is appropriate for me. You can be a full-grown adult, not on a diet, and order the kiddie size just because that’s the amount of sweets you need in your life to make that moment enjoyable. Sometimes we don’t want the whole pint.

For if you base your standards of appropriateness on what your environment tells you, your health will always be chaotic, because this information is always changing.

What was a regular size two generations ago is now a kiddie size, and what is seen as an appropriate breakfast now would’ve been gawked at as dessert by your grandparents. Society is constantly changing its messaging as to what’s appropriate, healthy, or ‘normal’ — if we were to base our understanding on our external environment, our health would never find stability.

So if you’ve felt judged for ordering the kiddie size, or doing something a little off-standard for a meal, know that this is my daily life, and don’t let societal norms make you feel weird about it. For when we can internalize our own sense of appropriateness for how we should eat, moderation and health will never feel restrictive again.

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: www.kakikata.space 🌱

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