Does anyone else ever find themselves apologizing for eating healthy? I know I do.
A few days ago I saw this photo that summed it up perfectly: “Eat a whopper, large fry and soda…No one bats an eye. Eat chicken and brown rice out of tupperware and everyone loses their mind.” It resonated at the time, but the more I think about it, the more I see the truth in it.
When I bring my own food to my classes, everyone seems to be looking at me funny. Meanwhile, the kid a few seats over with the value meal from Wendy’s isn’t getting a second look.
I remember in one class, a girl sat next to me who was very overweight. She had a bag from McDonald’s and she was talking to me about all of her various health problems. During that time, I took out my lunch: spaghetti squash and meatballs. Without skipping a beat, she looked at me and said “I could never eat like that”.
At the time, I felt uncomfortable that she had said that. My food was delicious, but was there something wrong with me for not eating what everyone else was? No. Quite the opposite actually. We’ve all been so programmed to eat overly processed, high carb, high fat meals and overlook the fact that it’s actually killing us.
The girl sitting next to me that day had such bad asthma from her weight and was Type 2 diabetic starting at age 16. She had a million reasons for why she was so sick, but the real answer was that her food was killing her and that she either didn’t realize, or more likely just wasn’t willing to stop.
When someone makes a decision to not eat these things, especially in public, people look at them like there’s something wrong. I believe that it’s because when someone choses the healthy option, it exposes just how unhealthy others are being.
The best way I can describe it is like being the only non-smoker in a smoking section. The people who make up the majority of the group feel like it’s the outlier who is doing the wrong thing, but deep down it’s a response to what they feel is judgement. It’s almost like they are saying “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.”
For a while, that mentality bothered me. It made me feel uncomfortable and often led to me making less healthy decisions for the benefit of others. But how stupid is that? It’s just like everyone’s mom always said “if everyone else was going to jump off the bridge, would you do it too?” Obviously not! So why do we let the pressure from those being unhealthy impact our own wellbeing?
I think the best answer is that no one wants to be an outsider. If everyone else is doing it, it really does make you want to do it too. It’s just easier to say no when the stakes are higher, like jumping off a bridge or doing drugs. When it’s food, it’s easy to just say “screw it, how bad could it be?”
This is not an argument to miss out on great, delicious food at a party or other kind of social gathering. It’s a declaration of our ability to make our own choices. The food may be killing you, but you’re ultimately the one putting it in your mouth. Don’t let others make that decision for you, and especially don’t apologize for not letting them.
I’m sick of being treated like there’s something wrong with me because I don’t want to eat junk food that I wouldn’t enjoy all that much anyway. If I eat fast food, I tend to feel sluggish and just downright sick after. For me, food should taste good and make you feel good, and I see no reason why we should sacrifice one for the other.
Food is fuel, and it’s time that we start treating it like it.