Despite America’s love affair with food, and although the obesity rate in the US is around 35% and rising, I believe a lot of people are still self-conscious when it comes to their food choices, especially when confronted with people who eat what’s considered to be “healthy” foods.
If you remember this post , I wrote about how I got several negative comments about the salad I was making at my family’s get together. I usually chalk these comments up to insecurity; the only real reason why anyone would make a negative comment about somebody eating healthy is if they feel guilty about their own food choices.
But why? Especially if they are of a normal body weight and don’t have any real issues over diet?
Today in a staff meeting, sandwiches, potato salad, and cookies were provided. Here are some of the comments I received and/or heard:
o After sitting down with my salad consisting of lettuce and tuna, a male coworker said, “Look at you with another salad, making the rest of us feel bad about ourselves.”
o After a woman finished her plate, she said, “I’m going without dinner tonight so I can have another sandwich.”
o After a different woman finished and went back for seconds, she stated, “The food was just too good to not go back for more!”
I find it interesting that we have to make up excuses for ourselves in order to eat more in front of others. I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, all the excuses people give themselves in order to indulge in food: “Oh, I’ll just run an extra mile in the morning” or “I’ll have a light dinner” or “I deserve to treat myself” or “This was just too good to pass up!”
Then you have the people who are openly judgmental of themselves, as if verbally stating how disgusting they are somehow reduces the chances of others judging them first: “This is going straight to my thighs, ugh!” or “My body’s going to pay for this, but I don’t even care.”
Now, going back to my question of “why?”, it’s pretty simple. People are probably self-conscious and worried that other people are going to judge them based on what they consume. Okay. But again — if someone is seemingly healthy and has no real issues with eating in excess, why must they give themselves verbal permission before eating more than is normal for themselves? Why does society have such a judgmental view on what other’s eat?
On the flip side, coming from a viewer’s perspective, it really was hard for me NOT to judge them based on their food intake. With that said, most of my views came from an eating disordered perspective, and a big part of me enjoyed the fact that people were not only eating these huge sandwiches, but that they were going back for seconds. I went over numbers in my head, comparing my caloric intake with theirs, wondering if they would go home at eat big dinners, wondering if they had had breakfast, wondering how many calories, on average, each of them had in one day. I secretly smiled to myself because my ED thought that I was better than everyone because I was eating lettuce and tuna.
There were moments when my recovery side would kick in, feeling sad that I couldn’t enjoy a healthy sandwich, or envious that these people could eat these types of foods with no worries of weight gain. Feeling scared at my sudden but fleeting chest pain, scolding myself for continuing to restrict my food intake despite health concerns. There were moments of pity, wishing my coworkers could just go back for seconds without having to give a reason.
But either way, whichever side we are on, there are so many bigger things to worry about than what we are eating. It shouldn’t matter what others think of us, and it shouldn’t matter what we think of others. Especially with something so insignificant as food. Granted food is what keeps us alive, but those women who went up for seconds shouldn’t have to announce to the group of their reasoning for doing so. My male coworker shouldn’t have had to feel guilty for his own food choice, especially given the fact that he has NOTHING to be jealous of (if only he knew). So yeah. Don’t know where I’m going with this, but there it is.