By Elizabeth Magee, RD, LRD
“Don’t ick my yum”
“You’re going to eat all that?”
“There’s nothing good here”
“Oh, you don’t have anything that’s organic?”
“That’s not going to be good for your blood sugar”
The list could go on and on. These are all examples of food shaming; judging others (whether in your house or somewhere else) for the choices they make when it comes to eating. These comments can be hurtful and have lasting effects for some. Many don’t have control of their food choices, whether it is based on grocery budget, how you’re feeling, when you’ve last eaten, or what’s being offered.
We seem to think we can say whatever we want to anyone these days, or that everyone wants our opinion and even worse, that our opinion is the only right one and needs to be heard.
This isn’t correct or fair. And how is what someone else is putting in their body having any type of effect on you? Your opinions are probably coming from things you’re uncomfortable with. We come from different upbringings, different social status, different traditions – these things all can drive food habits. And that’s great. Differences make us interesting.
When my daughter was in elementary school, she got to a point where she was stressed about what to bring for snacks to share because she was worried about what the other kids would think. Would what she brought somehow make her popular? Or look stupid? Why is this something we need to stress about?
As a single mom, my goal was to find something affordable for the whole class. This did not make me popular with my daughter (add that to the long list of things). Food is expensive. I wanted to find something kids would actually eat that was affordable. The cheap options, many times, were shot down; some of the suggestions of what other kids brought were not possible to bring. Sometimes labels are thrown onto things to make them seem “uppity” for lack of a better word.
Sometimes these fancy terms are thrown onto foods and somehow, we end up thinking these foods are better. They’re sometimes more expensive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean better. I see “gluten free” stickers on bananas. Guess what? They were always gluten free. That’s fancy marketing.
There is too much guilt associated with what we buy, what we make, what we eat. Should we be making good choices most of the time? Yes, but it’s ridiculous to expect that all of the time. What’s on someone else’s plate or what your kid’s classmate brings for a snack isn’t a characteristic of who they are, or a reason to judge.
We’re all here every day, waking up, trying to be our best selves – let’s help each other out. Food shaming is a real waste of energy. Embrace what others do. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. That’s ok!! Be kind to each other – that’s more of what we need going around on snack break.
Elizabeth Magee is a licensed registered dietitian. Her posts appear monthly on OYT.
Other popular posts from Elizabeth: