Julia Turshen on Celebrating Food and Canceling Diet Culture
In Conversation with Maris Kreizman on The Maris Review Podcast
On pushing back against diet culture:
It’s everywhere. Diet culture is the culture we live in. It’s oppressive and its message comes in so many forms, some clear and overt, like words on certain packages of foods or in cookbooks, and some of it is really subtle and therefore a little bit manipulative. We don’t even realize it’s happening. I grew up never knowing that fat wasn’t a bad thing. It’s taken so much for me to learn this new language, but most of all it’s taken so much energy for me to unlearn all of the things I’d learned. Because this oppressive, judgmental, stigmatizing message—that’s very tied to capitalism and racism—comes from everywhere. At the end of these messages is usually someone trying to sell us something and who is profiting from feeling like there’s something wrong with us. If these messages are coming from everywhere, it’s important to push against them from everywhere too. Normalizing a message about pushing against diet culture in something as familiar as a cookbook feels really important too.
On taking the anxiety out of cooking:
The constant grounding force in my life is cooking. When I’m in my kitchen, not only do I feel my least anxious, but I feel confident. I feel really present. I’m dealing with things like sharp knives and fire—I need to pay attention! And when I’m present, I find it really hard to feel anxious. I know for so many people it’s the opposite. When it comes to cooking a meal or being in the kitchen, that’s where so many people experience the most stress in their homes. As someone who has deep empathy for anyone who feels anxious in any way, and knowing that the kitchen is the place where I haven’t felt anxious, I just want to share everything I know to help alleviate some of that stress. At the end of the day we’re just making dinner. It’s gonna be fine. But also, we’re making dinner and that’s a really important part of our everyday lives. I want to celebrate it and enjoy it.
Julia Turshen is the bestselling cookbook author of Small Victories, Feed the Resistance, and Now & Again. She hosts the IACP-nominated podcast Keep Calm and Cook On and has written for many publications. She is the founder of Equity At The Table, an inclusive digital directory of women/non-binary individuals in food. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her wife and pets, and her latest cookbook is Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food.