[dropcap size=small]D[/dropcap]ear Food-Shamers,
In case you happen to be blissfully unaware of this fact, we’re in the year 2014, where people, much like yourself, love to share their food choices and shame everyone else’s! Which one(s) are you?
That person on Instagram that eats unrealistically “healthy” and organic, and feels the need to take pictures of all their meticulously prepared food, and list all the ingredients that went into it.
The anti-GMO’er who feels the incessant need to inform everyone that they should really be eating organic food so they don’t get cancer, or grow an extra limb or eyeball.
The individual that seems to live at health food stores, finds money that grows on trees, and proceeds to make everything with coconut oil, hemp flour, chia seeds, sheep’s milk yogurt, unpasteurized milk, etc…
The onlooker that falls over dead when they see someone consume real butter, carbohydrates, beer, or deep-fried food… say it ain’t so!
The vegetarian that relentlessly trolls other non-vegetarian’s food choices and proceeds to gleefully guilt-trip the omnivorous world. Vice versa for meat eaters to vegetarians and vegans.
The paleo fanatic that shames the rest of us mere mortals that eat grains and foods with sugar in them.
That Twitter person that proclaims they eat “real food,” which somehow insinuates that the rest of us eat BPA-ridden plastic for our meals, and snack on shards of metal when we have a case of the munchies.
I could go on and on, because my field of study is food and nutrition, so I see the entire gamut of the lovely sub-population that you claim citizenship to. Maybe you didn’t have a name for it, but now you do, so congratulations! But I am here to attempt to bring you back down to reality—where health matters, but so do a wide variety of other things.
I see patients day in, and day out, that are strapped for cash, and sometimes even lack a permanent living space and reliable transportation. Some families constantly battle against food insecurity, or live in food deserts where the closest food source is a gas station or convenience store. If you weren’t aware of this already—the cheapest sources of satiating foods are the more highly processed convenience products. Frozen or canned vegetables might be the most cost-effective produce option for them, and more power to them if they make that choice.
People all have different financial burdens in addition to food, including children, healthcare, housing, and clothing. These are all issues that need to be considered, and it’s never as simple as it looks when you’re judging someone toting their bag of McDonald’s. Poverty isn’t a problem indigenous to Africa—it’s most likely right down the street from you, so try to show some understanding.
In addition, there are myriad health issues that significantly impact food choices, such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, eating disorders, severe food allergies, cancer, etc. Each one of these disorders requires a certain diet approach—don’t add salt, avoid simple carbohydrates, watch that potassium, eat with plastic silverware, and so many other aspects. Sometimes you need them to eat something, anything, so that they can maintain an adequate nutrition status. That “anything” might be a milkshake or some peanut butter crackers, and for their circumstances that might be wonderful. In this day and age, it seems the majority of people have a chronic disease that impacts food, and those different diet constraints are really HARD to navigate. Furthermore, it goes back to the money aspect, and any health issue siphons away money from the other areas, such as those higher-end foods that some people go bonkers over, and that’s perfectly fine.
Finally, is there science that is backing up your health claim in particular? Unless you have a degree that allows you to read, and comprehend, the ever-changing research studies that come out, then I would hazard a guess that you don’t know. There are diet trends and fads, and there are even food fads (such as coconut oil) that come and go, but just because they’re popular and pricey doesn’t mean that they’re good for you. Frequently, you food-shamers really don’t know what you’re talking about, so please let the people that spent years in school studying nutrition hand out the advice. Ideally, yes, I would love if everyone followed the dietary guidelines and exercised 30-60 minutes per day and did strength training two to three times per week. But something that is so vitally important to realize is that if you don’t meet people where they’re at, then you won’t make any progress (or any friends), and you’ll be left alone with your jar of soy butter.
Also, please allow me to emphasize that Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Dr. Perlmutter, and Oprah are so far away from being nutrition and food experts, that I’m reasonably sure my cats could do a better job than them.
Live long and prosper, darlings.