Day in, day out, we read reports about fat shaming: People named, blamed and shamed for their weight, dietary habits and the way they live their lives. With everything from unrealistic bikini billboards to nasty notes on the tube - this issue is barely ever out of the media. As a health and nutrition blogger, I've actively avoided being one those people who constantly lecture others on their diet because I've been there, and I know that people will only change what they eat when they're really ready. What's more, good nutrition is far much more than how much you weigh anyways (I've put on a stone since starting my healthy journey - something I really needed to do after losing weight with Crohn's Disease).
However, despite my decision to remain laidback over other people's choices, I've been surprised to see I was experiencing the reverse: Healthy Shaming. In other words, being shamed for my healthy choices, asking to see allergen menus and for well... being 'a bit boring.' So here's the worst 'healthy shaming' phrases I've heard recently...
1. Is there anything you can eat?
I don't eat gluten, dairy and anything that's fake. That leaves a ton of fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, tofu, fish and organic meat. I've found that although frequenting health restaurants is fun, it's not always necessarily if with my family as I've found ample healthy choices at Thai, Indian and Seafood restaurants. Unfortunately as McDonalds are not currently offering the McOrganic or the McChemical free, I'm sometimes meet with disdain for being fussy! Yet my diet is far more varied now than it used to be!
2. Maybe you can afford it but eating healthy is too expensive
Excuse me now while I put down my apparently gold plated carrot and say that this is complete and utter rubbish. In many ways, being healthy is even easier than it used to be! I saw a whole bag of carrots for 69p in Tesco today (not organic but better than nothing), brown rice is no more than a few pounds and lasts forever! Yes it's cheaper to buy regular milk than the almond alternatives I buy but considering what farmers are doing to cows get milk produced at 25p a liter I consider it a small price to pay. I do admit that unfortunately under this government, it's easier and cheaper to buy a bag of sugar than a bag of vegetables, yet along with healthy eating comes less takeaways, less alcohol and more home cooking: which works out more cost efficient in the long run.
3. 'It's boring.'
When I've stopped at one glass of one or shunned a takeaway some friends have been like...
I'm not boring! I can have fun: I once ate a whole jar of cashew nut butter in two days! Vegan ice cream is a regular occurrence in my refrigator and I practically inhale it. I think people who do this think I'm judging them for eating that way, but I'm really not. Each to their own! I'll happily come over for a night in, I'll just bring my hummus and oat cakes ok? (Now, I really want some hummus)
4. 'Person A has eaten whatever they've wanted all their life and they're now 105/running the London marathon/the healthiest person in the world.' OR as an alternative: Person B never ate junk food/smoked or drank alcohol but they died so what's the point in healthy eating?'
I strongly believe that food plays a crucial role in our overall health and can drastically reduce the chance of getting serious illnesses. However, I also strongly believe that wearing a seatbelt plays a crucial role in preventing getting hurt in a car accident. Does that mean you're 100% going to survive a car accident by wearing one? Absolutely not. Does that mean there's some extremely lucky idiots who race at 100mph and remain unscathed? Of course! But you wouldn't stop wearing your seat belt would you? Who knows what's going to happen? So I will take my chances safe in the knowledge that my chances of being generally healthy are far more likely if I treat my body with a bit of respect.
5. 'Everything in moderation'
Can I just say this phrase is the most incorrectly used phrase in the English language? We use it to justify everything! What next? Only commit one crime a week? Everything in moderation!
This image, taken from Healthy Holistically Living , might be slightly dramatic (like me!) but sums up the danger of people believing moderation is key. No I'm not talking about the lovely healthy community I follow who practice this perfectly and will happily chow down on a good burger before getting home to prepare their overnight oats. Don't get me wrong I'm always game for the odd treat: a glass of wine, a good piece of steak, but some people treat this as an excuse to constantly indulge and what's worse health shame others that don't want to join in! 'Just eat this, everything moderation! Those on a generally healthy lifestyle can indulge in a takeaway or a night on the town without consequences, but those of us on restrictive diets due to illness (e.g. coeliacs and other autoimmune disease) the consequences of falling of the wagon can have more serious consequences! For me, consuming gluten or dairy can leave me ill for days.
6. 'Should you be eating that?'
The problem with telling people about the joys of healthy eating is sometimes you want to forget it and let your hair down. Cue cries of 'I thought you were on a healthy diet!' What's worse, most of the time it's actually something that is a nice treat but can actually be quite good for you. For example, grass fed meat might trump quorn in many scientist's minds.
I'd love to hear your opinions on healthy shaming too. Is it as big a problem as fat shaming? Is it something you've ever experienced.
This post was first published at: http://www.abalancedbelly.co.uk/healthyshaming/