Hi friend! I hope you’ve been having a fabulous week! Today I want to talk about something that’s been stewing in my brain for the last few weeks. As many of you know I recently took a position as Program and Marketing Manager at Inside Out Bakery. Our whole philosophy is centred around inclusivity and safe food in that we create allergen friendly delights that are full of nutrition and delicious enough that everyone will want to eat them, thus including people with food allergies and intolerance in their work, school, social communities. I think this is a great message, but I also think it’s a little f*&%ed up that we have to work so hard to create this kind of inclusivity in the first place.
I radically changed my diet about 3 and a half years ago. Arguably the biggest change and the one that stood out most to those around me was giving up gluten, which I did for a whole host of reasons you can check out here.
Now luckily for me my friends and family are not jerks so even if they didn’t quite understand why I was giving up gluten and other foods they were nonetheless supportive and went out of their way to ensure that I always had something to nibble on at social functions. For this I will always be eternally grateful because I have come to realize that for many people who change their diets for whatever reason this support just doesn’t exist.
I know it’s hard to cater for someone with strict dietary preferences, but chances are if you are hosting an event and pick up the phone to ask them for suggestions on what they can eat said person will have a plethora of suggestions for meals or nibbles that they can eat and that everyone will enjoy. Or they might even bring something themselves and then you’ll get to try something new. Sweet!
Now if you don’t think that giving up gluten or dairy or corn or whatever makes sense that is 100% your prerogative and hey you don’t have to do it! But you know what’s not your prerogative? Making fun of someone for what they do or do not choose to eat. Do you know what makes someone feel sick? Do you know what it’s like to live in their body? Do you have an intimate understanding of their particular physiology? No? Then your opinion on the matter, I’m sorry to say, is completely moot.
Rather than making fun of what someone is eating, why not try, you know, being supportive or asking questions about what they’re doing and why? Yes, I understand that sometimes people can be absolutely insufferable when going on about their diets, but part of being a decent human being is cultivating patience, tolerance, and empathy towards others even when (I would argue especially when) they are annoying the sh*t out of you.
Practice kindness. Be inclusive. Try to understand why someone is making their specific choices. Sometimes a person may choose not to eat something because they find that when they do eat it they gain weight uncontrollably. Sometimes certain foods can cause severe autoimmune reactions in the body that can lead to debilitating pain and suffering. Both are legitimate reasons to exclude something from your diet and neither person deserves to be mocked or socially ostracized for their choices.
If you don’t like how someone eats, that’s fine. Don’t do it. But making someone feel bad about the way they eat or making them feel like a burden when they make specific dietary requests, simply put, makes you an asshole. And trying to throw studies at someone to invalidate how eating a certain way makes them feel also makes you an asshole. This is especially true if you don’t actually read the study in question and just rely on the sensationalist headlines that make the rounds every so often claiming eggs are worse for you than smoking or that gluten intolerance doesn’t exist.
Can we all just agree here and now to stop this dietary bullying and let people eat what they want based on their own unique biochemical makeup? We have much more important battles to fight to save our planet and stamp out actual social issues. Turning on each other about something as arbitrary about what goes on our plates at meal time is unproductive and a ridiculous waste of time. Focus your attention on the things that matter and practice loving kindness to all those around you.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this goes the same way for us health foodie types. Lead by example. Do not shame, coerce, judge, mock, or otherwise make someone feel shitty about themselves if they are eating something you deem unhealthy or following a diet you don’t think is THE diet. You know what I’m talking about.
Quietly eat your food. Live your life so well that people are inspired and come to you with questions or for guidance. Educate when it’s asked for. Do not proselytize. Do not become a “health bully” and shame someone for eating Oreos at lunch. Again this is an unproductive waste of time and total jerkface behaviour.
Basically friend, just be nice to one another. Respect each others’ food and lifestyle choices and practice loving kindness by not judging those around you. I know it’s not always easy, but you have to at least try.
Thanks for sticking around and reading my midnight ranting. If you’re struggling to make some of your healthy habits stick, then make sure you download my FREE Stop Self-Sabotage Workbook by clicking here. It’s got tons of information and support to help you kickstart and maintain your lifestyle changes.
Have a wonderfully loving and fabulous weekend friend.