I’ve had something I wanted to get off my chest for some time now, but I wasn’t sure of exactly the best way to address it…. so I’ve hemmed and hawed, and avoided it altogether. I sensed it would be one of *those topics* that might upset folks. But today I’ve decided to put on my big girl pants and tell you what’s been eating me for awhile.
For lack of a better term, I’m calling it Food Snobbery.
What is Food Snobbery? It’s that condescending, judgmental, and down putting attitude some people have towards others who eat differently than they do. Their way of healthy eating is the ONLY way, and anyone that makes different food choices is somehow wrong, ignorant, or worse, “less than.” Why am I bringing this up? Because on occasion, I see comments left here on the blog and on my Facebook page that reflect this attitude, and it saddens me.
Some examples (these are hypothetical):
- Someone shares a recipe for meatloaf and a person comments that they’d never in a million years feed their family such a meal.
- I post a deal for some sort of cereal and a person comments wow, did you know how terrible that crap is for you?
- Someone leaves a comment stereotyping couponers as people that only eat “boxed stuff” while they only eat whole foods.
Do these people have a right to their opinion? Of course they do. Are they probably healthy eaters? Sure. But they’re often also rude in their approach!
No One Likes a Lecture
It seems that many people out there consider themselves evangelists for the healthy, whole food movement. And while I agree that most of us could improve our diets through more plant-based, whole-food eating, let me now tip you off to a secret: NO ONE LIKES A LECTURE. (Unless of course, they’re in college, and even there, it’s not always the case.)
How effective is it, really, to look at what someone else has put in their shopping cart and go “wow, you feed your family THAT? You really should buy more vegetables.”
I’m not saying there aren’t moments when we can be honest and speak our minds, but do you see the condescending attitude implied in the statement above? Growing up, my dad (who’s been a licensed marriage & family therapist even before I was born!) always told me to avoid using the phrases “You need to” or “You should.” That takes away people’s choice, and does nothing to help the situation. In fact, it can have the opposite effect, making the person feel defensive or withdraw.
So What’s the Alternative?
First off, remember that people are not sub-human if they eat at McDonalds or buy a jar of Skippy’s Peanut Butter or eat meat or eat dairy or eat whole grains or just eat differently than you do! Remember it’s about respect!
“But Angela, I feel it’s my job to ‘bring awareness” about all the bad eating choices out there!”
Well, OK. I get you’re concerned that people are pumping their bodies with non-organic, GMO, antibiotic-laden meat, or what have you. So what could you do about it? (And “DO” being the key word…) How about this – win folks over by sharing how awesome you feel for making good choices! Maybe start a blog about your own journey toward healthy eating where the focus is on your choices and your results. Invite some friends over to dinner and serve only plant-based foods to show them how tasty they can be. Show up to the company barbecue with a healthy side dish or salad made from garden-grown veggies. Offer to buy that struggling single mom of 3 some grass-fed beef because maybe she simply can’t afford to make the same choices as you on her budget. Or….become a certified nutritionist, volunteer at your local food co-op, become a whole foods activist in some way, start growing your own organic produce and donating it to the food pantry. In other words DO something. You’re a million times more likely to win folks over that way and helping your cause than by leaving disparaging comments on random blogs.
Simply put, there are other ways of going about funneling your passion for healthy eating than berating, lecturing, and down putting other people who’ve made different choices.
My Personal Journey
You might recall that several months ago I decided to try to eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet. One that I’ve largely kept, though I’ve never wanted to label myself as “vegetarian” or “vegan” because I want the flexibility to eat animal products on occasion as my cravings and/or social situation allows. As I shared my recipes, journey, and grocery shopping photos with you, I did get some flack. But more people wrote me later about how they decided to give it a try as well. I was truly surprised by this! I don’t recall ever saying “join me” or “this is the way you should eat” (I wanted to be very careful about that one). And yet, just sharing what I was doing, how I was doing it, and how I was feeling somehow translated into folks making similar choices.
Listen, I get that there are lots of concerning things about the SAD (Standard American Diet) these days. On a personal note, I can also understand how easy it is to become judgmental of others when you’re in the process of radically transforming your diet. I truly do understand! It’s easy to become passionate about your particular food philosophy and forget that others might not share your enthusiasm or POV. I believe dialogue can happen and that you can share your story and your thoughts, but in a spirit of mutual respect, compassion, and kindness. While everyone is free to voice their concerns and complaints on this blog and the Facebook page, do remember that comments that read as personal attacks cannot be tolerated here.
I know I’ve taken a big risk in sharing my heart on this topic with you today. It’s not easy to put yourself out there and make statements like I have today, and I know I’ve undoubtedly ruffled feathers (yet again). But I also know I have to be true to myself and get this off my chest as it’s been something that’s been on my mind for months now.
Thanks for reading, and I welcome your comments.