This time of year, people “fall off the wagon.” Others jump off of it and take the opportunity to eat their mom’s best shortbread cookies that only come once a year. At any rate, I think it’s safe to say that during the holidays is not the best time to get an accurate sense of the kind of diet you or anyone else consumes on a regular basis.
As someone who has struggled with what to eat and what not to eat and has gone in both directions on the restriction and bingeing continuum, I’ve been self conscious about what I eat and don’t eat in front of people. It took me longer than it should have to let my boyfriend cook me dinner (even though he’s a better cook than I am, to be honest) and when I eventually did, it still wasn’t easy for me to “just eat” and not worry about judgment. There’s irony in this given that at one point, I took pictures of everything I ate and shared them with the world.
Now, I know that I’ve been overly concerned with what people think about what I eat. Whether it’s their approval or worrying that they’re going to negatively judge me, it can get to me. That being said, I don’t think it’s entirely unwarranted to feel judged given that for some reason, people have no filter when it comes to discussing what they eat or don’t eat as well as what other people should or shouldn’t eat. There are a lot of “experts” out there and with all the diets and eating approaches that float around the interwebs and all the people who swear by them, there’s no shortage of people around to tell you that you shouldn’t eat that Christmas cookie because:
a) It has carbs in it and carbs are bad for you.
b) It has grains in it and grains are the worst mistake in human history.
c) It has butter in it and butter has too much saturated fat.
d) It has animal products in it and a vegan diet is the way to optimum health.
e) It was made with chocolate chips that have palm oil in them and palm oil is killing the gorillas in the rainforest.
I think I could probably go through the entire alphabet and find a host of reasons why you should not eat a cookie, many of them ridiculous but supported by someone, somewhere. It’s no wonder it’s easy to feel judged.
Just last month, a couple of what I found to be odd food habits of my friends left me confused. I started to doubt my own food habits…Should I be eating this? If so and so does this, should I try it? To make myself feel better, I tried to talk about this with people who I assumed would agree that said food habits are crazy and that I am right.
Turns out, despite me being so darn convinced that people shouldn’t judge what I put on my plate (or don’t), I’m guilty of doing the same thing. It’s pretty pathetic, though, when you need to make other people wrong to make yourself right–which is exactly what I see when it comes to issues with food. For paleo advocates to be right, it’s all too common to see them making vegetarians wrong. For vegetarians to be right, it’s all too common to see just the opposite–making meat eating wrong.
I’ve blogged about this before: If we’re sure of what we’re doing, it doesn’t matter as much what other people are doing.
You know the saying about wanting to change the world and needing to start with yourself?
I think that applies here.
So…one of my goals for 2014 (or from here on out, foreseeably), is to keep my eyes on my own plate. This means being sure that what I’m doing is what works best for me. It means that even if I think that what a friend is doing is “weird,” I won’t go and look for ways to make them wrong and myself right. It means moving forward and taking enough responsibility and ownership for the way that I eat that I won’t feel like I need to justify it by making other people wrong.
Do you have any resolutions for this year?
How do you feel about judging other people’s food choices?
Have you ever been judged?