Food is so powerful. It fuels our body and our mind and provides the sources of nutrients to keep us alive. Without food, the body can only continue to exist for about three weeks.
The thing is, and I have talked about this before – there is no one exact diet that is right for everyone. The more and more I look into my relationship with food I realize that everyone else has a completely different relationship to food – and honestly, most women do not have a healthy relationship. It’s like a bad marriage. Sometimes it’s the best thing in the world and at other times, it’s the source of all evil on earth.
What you eat is intimately personal and your own choice. The choice of what to put in your body should never be judged by a third party. Unless that person knows exactly what your own unique body needs at that exact time, there’s not right for anyone to judge what you choose to eat.
You may not even realize you’re food shaming, but here are 6 common behaviors that relate to food shaming.
1. Commenting on what someone is eating.
2. Scowling or frowning at someone for where they choose to eat – like at a desk or in a car
3. Shaming vegetarians, vegans or meat lovers
4. Making people feel bad for leaving food on their plate
5. Commenting on a person’s ability to “eat anything”
6. Suggesting healthier alternatives
Let’s take a look at each of these food shaming behaviors a bit more deeply.
COMMENTING ON WHAT SOMEONE IS EATING.
Hearing someone make a comment about a food you are eating that may or may not be the healthiest choice can be damning to your self-esteem. Perhaps you’ve chosen to give yourself a treat and all of a sudden you’re not able to fully enjoy it because someone has just micro-analyzed what you put into your body. That chocolate indulgence no longer tastes so good does it? If guilty tastes good, there would be an ice cream named after it.
JUDGING WHERE A PERSON EATS
You have a right to nourish yourself in any way you choose – whenever you see fit. Sometimes that winds up being at your desk at work, or between drop off of a couple child activities. Hearing someone judge you for eating at a non-traditional time in a non-traditional place can be damaging. Many people practice intuitive eating, which means they choose to honor their body’s natural hunger and fullness and it doesn’t always occur at 8am, 12pm or 5pm.
SHAMING MEAT OR NON MEAT EATERS
Our personal beliefs around vegetarianism or veganism are just that – personal beliefs. Whether the fact that you eat or don’t eat meat is religious or personal in nature, it’s yours to own and nobody can take that away from you. Judging others just pushes them away, makes them feel embarrassed and makes you look like an insufferable idiot.
COMMENTING ON SOMEONE’S ABILITY TO “EAT ANYTHING”
Do you know how their genetics are made up? Do you know if they just went to the bathroom to purge after eating something? Nope. Enough said. You do you.
MAKING PEOPLE FEEL BAD FOR NOT FINISHING FOOD
Not everyone feels the need to eat until they are entirely stuffed. I choose to not force food into my body after I am full and I practice a pretty steady mantra of intuitively eating when I am hungry and stopping when I am full. You are in charge of how much food enters your body and how much you consume on a daily basis. And even if you’re not consuming enough or consuming too much, unless you directly ask me, it’s my job to keep my mouth shut and honor your ritual with food.
SUGGESTING HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVES
Unless someone asks you, keep your opinion to yourself. There are awesome recipes out there that are gluten free or sugar free, but if you’re giving unsolicited advice, it’s not your place. Keep your food beliefs to yourself and everyone is much happier in the end!
Remember, eating is deeply personal and your beliefs around food go back far and deep into the early years of your life. It’s almost like politics. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you are share your viewpoint, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They just see it differently and that’s not something that just because you say something is going to change them overnight.
Besides, do you want someone trying to change how and what you eat? Stick to your own business and everyone is happy.