Why is Talking About Food So Offensive?

Since I’ve changed my eating habits, I’ve noticed that people are really defensive about the way they eat. I mean, really defensive, like “I love God, and America, and Doritos!” kind of defensive. Now, I am not by any means a member of the food police. You can eat what you want. But if you comment on MY food, or ask about how I lost weight, then you have opened the door for me to tell you about MY dietary choices.

I saw someone the other day I haven’t seen in some time and the first thing she said was to ask me about how I lost so much weight. I told her the truth. I’ve added in a significant amount of weight lifting to my work out, and I stopped eating processed food. I told her that I eat clean, meaning that I eat food with minimal ingredients and no artificial additives. She looked at me like I had told her I had gone to the moon and back. Suddenly there was this awkward pause and she mumbled something about how that was “good for some people, I guess” and suddenly had to go. Oooook? What did I say wrong?

Food is so ingrained in our culture. It is a part of every celebration and every gathering. Every holiday has it’s own menu, even the Superbowl. When you start questioning something so personal to people as the way in which we connect to others, people don’t know how to react. Be prepared for some strange responses when you tell people you are eating clean and you explain what that really means. Not everyone is going to be supportive of this decision. Not everyone is going to understand your desire to go against the grain of American culture of consumerism that says ‘more is more’ and gluttony is good. Be prepared for some people to now consider you uppity or too big for your britches as my momma might say. The attitude may be that of “so the food you’ve been eating your whole life suddenly isn’t good enough for you?” or “you’re too good to eat the same food I do.” I’m not sure why it is so hard for others to understand that it’s not like that at all. We are all good enough to eat good food! We should all respect our bodies enough to treat them as the temples they are and feed them the best there is in terms of nutrition.

I had a business breakfast recently. I was really apprehensive about how this was going to go. I had scouted the restaurant’s website ahead of time and knew my choices were limited and I would be asking a ton of questions once I got there. However, it was a business function, and I didn’t want to come off as a total a-hole with the upper management of my company (including the CEO). Do I throw my nutritional values out the window for the sake of saving face with a company meal? Do I order black coffee only? Do I attempt to order eggs and start the round of questions to the waitress (beginning with: are they even real eggs?) I could deal with conventional eggs for the sake of this meeting…if they are actually eggs…and if they are fried in butter and not oil…and if there is nothing else on them…and I have no other side items. No other real options stood out at me from the menu online. It turned out to not be as big a deal as I was worried about, and the waitress completely understood when I asked if they were real eggs, even joking that she wouldn’t eat a “cardboard chicken” either. Whew. I did get a round of strange looks from my table mates when I started asking about what the eggs were cooked with. I just smiled and said thank you when my order was done like it was no big deal. I think learning to deal with meals and comments from others with grace will serve me well. All my apprehension was in vain. There was absolutely no commenting on how little I ate (I had had a light breakfast before I left home just in case I found the menu sparse), and there was only minimal kidding me about my pickiness in ordering.

When you make a lifestyle change like clean eating it will effect more than you realize. Food is on center stage in so many places in our culture. It is completely up to you how you handle those discussions with others in your life, but be warned that they will happen, and they may not go the way you think. On one hand, you never know who you will offend, but on the other, you never know who you might influence for the better. Keep a positive attitude about it all. Since we are talking clean eating, I’ll quote the old adage that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar 😉


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