I’d like to take this time to talk a little bit about “fad diets” or in other words, “Why other people’s eating habits offend you”.
I had never considered myself a “dieter”. I love food. I love eating. I love trying new things, especially “weird” things. Now, I can’t say that I enjoy all food because I have definitely tried some stuff that just tastes wrong (like natto). However, overall, I would definitely say that I’m an eater. That is why it took me a long time to finally admit to myself that I may have sensitivities to food or, at the very least, that some foods make me feel worse than others. The main offender food – whether insensitivity or no – is a food that has recently been cited as “the root of all dietary problems”. However I thought, that while cutting this food out may help me feel better, it would also hopefully have the side effect of helping me lose weight. And, when I had decided to limit this food, I knew that I was going to be lumped into the “fad diet” crowd.
A crowd that I will admit, used to draw scoffs and subdued eye-rolls from myself as well.
Originally, I entertained the idea of going on the Whole 30 diet or the Keto diet, but when I proposed those ideas to the manfriend he was like “no way in hell.” This would mean that I would be cooking all my own food while I watched him eat his “bachelor diet” of mac’and’cheese, hot dogs, cereal, & chips and salsa. All the while secretly hating him for 1. Not having to deal with (or admit to) the fact that food makes him sick. And 2. Not having a negative body image about himself. Thus, my next thought was, “what can I eliminate that will still allow James and I to eat the same food at home.”
So I went there, I decided to cut gluten. Or at least, the most obvious sources of gluten in my life: pasta, bread products, & pizza. Now, if we make hamburgers, manfriend can have a sandwich while I just eat the meat and toppings. It works mostly OK. Every now and then I plan to cheat or eat something with just a little gluten, but overall I wanted to see if I would feel better: happier, more energetic, & with less gastrointestinal issues.
The week I decided to really focus on this, one of our regional directors was visiting from Montreal and offered to buy us all pizza for lunch. When I thanked him and apologized that I wouldn’t be able to partake in this, one of my coworkers proceeded to lecture me about why the gluten-free diet was a fad.
She went on to explain to me that I will always crave stuff like pizza because I grew up on it and I’m used to it.
And that gluten wasn’t my problem, but eating meat was.
And how I needed those carbs because I work on a computer and carbs fuel brainpower. This she based on a study from two doctors showed that carbs prevent diabetes more than fat did.
Oh and that if I wanted to lose weight, I needed to count calories rather than cut gluten.
That I should just eat more vegetables in general.
And that sugar is also a problem, including fruit, so I should stop that too.
Oh and why haven’t I gone to the doctor to get tested (note: I have an appointment but it’s not even just that. I could not biologically have a sensitivity but can still feel bloated/depressed from eating 3 slices of pizza.)
Pretty much she gave me the impression that my choices deeply offended her and that I was completely stupid.
But you know what? After having spent a lot of time around people who are “gluten-free by choice”, have celiacs, have allergies, are vegetarians by choice, are vegetarians w/o a choice…etc. I realized something…
It’s really none of my business what these people want to eat unless I make it my business.
Most of the people I know who have these preferences/requirements, are generally very flexible and do not expect you to accommodate them. But there are time when I do want to accommodate them. For instance, in regards to SCA camping & meal plans, I have invited people w/ limited diets to participate. This is because I want the company of people and certain food issues, including gluten-free, are easy enough to work around. (Now, if you have too many food allergies, you’re probably on your own b/c I don’t want to accidentally kill you).
So, here is my question: Why is food seen as such a personal issue? This is one of the things that really irks me.
Why do people feel the need to press you into eating the donuts/cookies/bagels they made/bought for the office?
Why do you have to make me feel guilty for not eating those things?
And, why do they think they know better than you what your diet should be?
For me, feeding people is a joy. As an Italian, I express love through food. Food brings community. I will admit, if someone turned something I made down, I would assume that they didn’t like it and feel a little bummed. However, I would feel a lot worse if someone ate something I made/offered and then got sick from it. That is kind of the opposite of building community.
One could argue that people worry about the dieter. And yeah, some fad diets are probably not good for you, but we are all adults and thus, we don’t really need other adults telling us what we should/shouldn’t eat. If you are really concerned for someone and their “diet” choice, maybe you should just ask them questions to ensure that they’ve done the necessary research. It’s kind of crummy to get all up in arms about someone doing/eating something that don’t or won’t do. Make sure you think about how hard this may be for them already.
During that meeting, the one where the director bought pizza, I was literally trapped in a room full of pizza-enjoyers, stuck with the shittiest salad in all of creation: lettuce, shredded cheddar, tomatoes, banana peppers & onions. I know he tried to support my choice but honestly, if one person had given me shit for not eating the delicious-smelling pizza, I probably would have just started bawling. I <3 o:p="" pizza.="">3>
So, the next time you want to judge someone’s diet choices, please be sensitive. They may be jumping on the bandwagon, or they may be trying to be healthier but either way, they are making sacrifices that they may not exactly want to make. Unless they are asking for advice, or asking you to cook for them, it really shouldn’t affect you what they choose to or not to eat.
For me, personally, the plan is to cut out gluten-y things and replace it with more vegetables and whole grains of other types. I may not look it, but I am nearing my mid-30s and have realized that my body doesn’t play as nice as it used to. I am not as active as I was in my 20s because I’m not hiking across campus all day long with a 30lb backpack. I am also more financially comfortable and YET more responsible. This means that I can afford to eat out more often, but also that I have a lot more bills as well. Eating out is terrible for the wallet and definitely gives you more options for temptation (fried everything, pizza, mac & cheese at every restaurant).
What I want to do is build a habit of healthier eating rather than just dieting to lose weight. I want to do this for manfriend as well because he’s also in his mid-30s (though he refused to admit it) and it couldn’t hurt but also because it’s easier to eat together if we eat the same food. I’m hoping the main effect of this is that I will feel better: less-bloated, less upset stomachs, less lethargic, less depressed. If I lose weight also – yay! If we get used to eating ½ plate of veggies (yes, that’s 2-3 “servings” in 1 meal), then all the more successful it’ll be!
That being said, I would appreciate support for my endeavor. And, if I break down and have a piece of pizza or a cookie now and then, please don’t judge me. We’re all human, afterall.