There is something that has been getting on my nerves lately, and it needs to stop.
It’s called Food Shaming.
I regularly eat a pretty healthy diet. I actually like fruits and veggies. And I love the fact that I can eat A TON of them without much worry of excess calories.
When someone rolls their eyes and says, “Oh I’m sure those cucumbers taste great, Sarah. . .” I feel really bad. I feel small, guilty, and ashamed. I almost want to eat junk food just to make the other person leave me alone.
I should not have to feel this way!!
I know that these comments probably come from a place of insecurity. Maybe the person is self conscious about their own eating habits. Maybe they feel guilty for eating potato chips and think that you are judging them.
The whole thing is a silly circle of insecurity and shame and it needs to stop.
Here are 5 Food Shaming Comments to Avoid
1. “Come on, have a piece of cake! It won’t kill you!”
You know what? Maybe I don’t want the cake. I’m putting it in my body, not yours, so why the FU** do you care?!
OK maybe that’s not the best reaction, but I really hate comments like these. It makes people feel guilty or embarrassed for making healthy choices. Susan at the office might be giving up sweets for a month. Mark might be avoiding dairy because it bothers his stomach. And Kyle might be full from lunch and simply doesn’t want to stuff himself.
Food is very personal and surrounded by emotion. It is the thing that we choose to put inside our bodies, and our individual biological systems react differently to particular foods. Plus, we all have certain emotional connections or aversions to foods depending on our childhood or history with that food.
The reason that we decide not to eat cake is no one’s business but our own. If we care to share, great! If not, that’s fine too! But everyone else who is not living in our body cannot tell us to eat something that we do not want to.
On another note: If Susan shares that she is giving up sweets for a month, leave her be. Don’t say things like, “Come on, it’s only one piece of chocolate!”
We should support each other in our health goals. Instead of making Susan feel bad, ask her about how she is feeling since she gave up sweets. Encourage her to keep going and congratulate her for taking on this challenge.
Or if you don’t feel like encouraging Susan, just shut your trap and let her eat what she wants.
2. “Oh, I’m sure that salad tastes just as good as my burger. . .”
This comment is usually accompanied by an eye roll.
People who say these things make others feel bad for eating healthy. However, we need to realize that they are probably feeling some form of guilt for eating that burger, and therefore wants to bring you down as well. It’s similar to making fun of someone for getting straight A’s in grade school.
Haven’t we grown up yet?
Once again, it’s no one’s business but your own why you are choosing a salad over a burger.
And I could be the odd one out, but I actually like salads! They fill me up without making me feel tired or like I need a nap. Plus, I hear they can be kinda good for you? 😉
3. “That looks disgusting.”
This one brings me back to my grade school cafeteria. I remember getting served some form of baked beans. I liked baked beans and I was hungry, so I ate them.
The girl next to me scrunched up her nose and said, “You’re eating that?!”
Everyone around us snickered.
I put my fork down and never ate baked beans at lunch again. (Or anywhere else for that matter for many years!)
When we make comments like this, we need to realize how we are making the other person feel. And it can affect them for a long time.
It doesn’t matter if you think the food looks or tastes disgusting, you are not the one eating it!
4. “Do you know that has about 1,000 calories in it?!”
This is a different kind of food shaming. It’s the opposite from those above. Here, we are making others feel bad for eating something that is unhealthy.
Although, check your sources. Whoever is saying this might not have the background information correct. Are they shaming you for eating an avocado because it has a lot of fat? Or saying to throw away your banana because it has too much sugar?
First, know that people who make these comments are not nutritional gurus. They probably just read a headline on Facebook.
Second, if you feel the need to tell someone that what they are eating is bad for them, stop. Unless they are genuinely interested in your opinion, keep your comments to yourself.
It’s a different matter if you are seriously concerned about someone’s health and you are close enough to broach the subject. But you must do so in a supportive environment where you express your love and concern. Not at a bar.
5. “You should eat ‘X’ food versus ‘Y’ food. It’s much better for you.”
Comments like these usually come from a place of love and concern. However, they are still shaming and can have a detrimental effect on the receiver.
I struggled with this one myself when I first began to learn about nutrition. I wanted to jump on everyone around me and tell them what to eat and what to avoid. I fear that I may have made others feel bad in my attempt to educate them, and for that I am sorry. Overtime, I’ve come to realize that advice can only be given to people who are willing to take it. Therefore, I try to provide information on social media and through my blogs where people can chose whether or not they want to read it. And I also try to only give advice to those who ask.
Speaking of asking . . .
At this point it might sound like I hate it when people make any kind of comment about what I am eating. But that’s not true. If it comes from a place of love and genuine interest, I’m all for sharing!
Sometimes I eat salads for dinner. Sometimes I eat three servings of peanut butter. Sometimes I say no to dessert and sometimes I say yes. What I chose to put in my body is my business. But if you are interested in the reasons behind my choices, just ask! I’m happy to provide you with the information behind my decisions, but know that sometimes I just feel like eating a pastry! And sometimes I want to eat friggin cucumbers, so deal with it.
Want to chat more about Food Shaming? Feel free to reach out and tell me what you think!