Have you ever endured the unpleasant experience of someone criticizing or ridiculing your food choices? One day at lunch, the dietitians were enjoying a party and dining on cheesy foods and rich desserts. A coworker passed by and commented, “Maybe you all should take your name tags off, so no one knows that you all are dietitians.” She thought it was funny; I didn’t.
It was actually a reader who brought this idea for a column to my attention. After much thought, I came up with different categories of nutrition attitudes.
1. The Shamers: “I can’t believe you’re eating THAT!” This is the person who knows you do your best to follow a healthy diet but spots you eating a candy bar once in a while. They use that to shame you. There’s nothing wrong with eating a candy bar from time to time. It’s the 90/10 rule: Eat healthy 90% of the time; indulge the other 10%! Live a little!
2. The Live-and-let-livers: These are the folks who follow a healthy diet but believe everyone has a right to choose his or her plan of eating. Simply put, they mind their own business.
3. The Controllers: “Don’t eat that!!” Controllers often have good intentions, and they really want to help. This person may be your spouse who is supporting you in following a diabetic diet. Or it may be your doctor who lectures you on what to eat. I knew a physician who lamented that when she witnessed an overweight person enjoying a bag of chips, it made her so angry she wanted to grab the bag right out of the person’s hands. To that I say, “Physician, heal thyself.”
4. The Hedonists: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” This group is sure that food brings happiness, and they have decided to eat whatever they want, regardless of the consequences.
5. The Elitists: These are the people who follow a specific diet and tend to think they are better than the rest of us for doing so. They are sure their way of eating is the best of all, and if everyone did as they do, the world would be a better place.
It’s normal to have attitudes about food. After all, we have attitudes about politics, cars, careers, and just about everything else in society. Just remember, food attitudes are a first-world luxury. There are people in the world who don’t have enough to eat, children who will go to bed hungry tonight. Their only attitude is survival.
Good health to you!
Leanne McCrate is an award-winning dietitian based in Missouri. Her mission is to educate the public on sound, evidence-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.