Saturday, September 14, 2013

Food Shaming

Sugar is poison.  Aspartame is poison.  Fat is bad for you, carbs are bad for you.  You should only eat organic produce, meat and dairy.  You should never eat meat and dairy.  Vegan, Vegetarian, Omivorous, Paleo, Low-Carb, Locavore.  
What you eat, says more about you than it ever should.  What you feed your kids and what you choose for your family can even make you the subject of other people's conversations.
I admit it.  I've done it.  I've seen the woman in the grocery store, pushing a cart full of sugared cereal, TV dinners, bottles of pop and bags of chips with her children grabbing candy bars and sodas at the check out.  I have judged that woman and felt like she wasn't giving herself or her children a chance in life by eating that way.  I've even gone so far in my mind as accusing her of neglecting her duties as a mother by feeding her family that way.

No matter what the situation is, we all have a thoughts on food choices.  In fact, what other people put in their grocery carts, and in their mouths is a multi-million dollar topic of interest to us.  We watch shows about cooking, we buy cook books and diet books and there's always a new set of  rules on the right way to eat.  Even folks who never count calories or monitor their nutrition, likely have opinions about the freaky people that do.

The problem arises when we start to feel somewhat superior for the choices that we make.  We look at others, not in our "group" with pity or even disdain.  We shake our heads and sigh, knowing that our way is the best way.  We may even make passive-aggressive clip art to try to get our point across.  Food is much like money, in that it is an inanimate object.  It is neither good nor is it bad.  It is what it is until you consume it.  And consuming such doesn't change the worth of the person just as the amount of money a person has is not indicative of their worth.

Since losing weight and quitting smoking several years ago, I have become a tireless supporter of good health.  I have tried every eating plan and can safely tell you that, for me, good old-fashioned moderation seems to work out best.  I eat a ton of fruit and veg, drink gallons of water, lots of whole grains and a small portion of meat and dairy each day.  I eat real butter, real sugar, and the least refined versions of oils and the like that I can afford.  I also can't afford organics.  I'm sure they really are all they are cracked up to be - but it's just outrageously expensive to shop that way.

Even these, seemingly healthy and moderate choices, come under fire from one source or another.  There is always some school of thought that argues with you.  I've even seen arguments for my Moderation Diet that say eating very strictly 6 days per week with one "cheat" day is better.  I guess in the end it's about the same, right?

When we aren't feeling superior about our food choices, we are busy trying to shock people into eating differently.  I've never seen the documentary Meet Your Meat, and I don't need to.  I understand that eating meat involves killing it.  Killing a living creature involves blood.  I'm okay with that.  The only thing watching that film would do, is make me feel that I was a bad person for wanting to eat meat.  I can pick something else to feel bad about.  Cheeseburgers taste to good to feel bad.

Other that superiority complexes and shock tactics, there is plain overt shaming.  Articles, photos, headlines and books all designed to make you feel like an out of control freak for eating out of the lines on the diet of the month.  Words like responsibleconscientious, thoughtful, kind and clean all serve to remind us that if your food hasn't been harvested, massaged, sang to and raised less than 10 miles away, you are a filthy, irresponsible, inconsiderate, jackass.

"WHAT!?  You eat processed, non-organic carbs!?  *breath sucking in*  I can't believe it, I thought you were a healthy eater!  Don't you know that those will make your blood boil, your bones turn to chalk and your all your hair fall out?  And worst of all it makes you stupid and MEAN!  We can no longer be friends."

I realize that's a bit of a stretch - but it's the attitude we convey on a whole.  In a world that works so hard to accept every color, creed, professional path and lifestyle choice, I'm sorry to observe that we are psychotic jerks about something as simple as food.   

For myself, I do it on my own.  I perceive being judged and feel sad about it.  I think that others are thinking about what I'm thinking and think that they think I'm bad.  

Wait.  What?

Exactly.  No more.  I refuse to make myself feel bad, or let any other person, media or idea make me feel bad for fueling my body.  I will maintain a positive attitude AND endeavor to uplift others in their nutrition decisions.  After all, change starts with me!


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