Friday, February 17, 2012

I'm not the food police!

I'm Not the Food Police



"I shouldn't eat this in front of you"

That's what my friend said to me as her fork hovered over the delicious looking chocolate cake our waitress had set in front of her. "I know I shouldn't eat this... but it's just so good! And I'm on vacation. Besides, I've been really good this week. I had vegetables the other day and I've been walking on the treadmill a few times a week." She pauses to eat a bite of her cake. "Seriously Jen! This is my last dessert until my birthday!"       
            
This mostly one-sided conversation continued for the entire 10 minutes that it took her to eat her dessert. I just kept smiling, nodding and saying, "Don't worry about it. Do what makes you happy!" But no matter how much I vehemently reassured her that I truly did not care what she was eating (because I really didn't), she felt the need to keep defending herself and her food choice. Rather than enjoy the oozing chocolatey pile of goodness on her plate, she had managed to make herself feel guilty and make me feel horribly awkward and uncomfortable.


I can't begin to count how many situations I've been in that are nearly identical to the above mentioned. To be frank, it makes going to dinner or any food function slightly less enjoyable because I don't want to make anybody feel bad or guilty.

I'm a nutrition coach, trainer, fitness junkie, motivator, supporter, encourager, health activist and advocate, and so much more.

What I am most certainly not is the food police. 

Sometimes, or rather, most of the time when I'm eating with friends and family, I have to check my outfit to make sure somebody didn't sneak a "Food Police" badge on me because all anybody wants to do is talk about what they are eating, how they shouldn't be eating it, and how I probably "think they are awful" for eating what they are.

No, no and no.

Don't get me wrong - I love anything and everything that has to do with health, nutrition and fitness. If you want to talk about it or run some things by me then I am all ears! But what I will never do is offer unsolicited advice or judge you for your choices that you get to make by your own free will. Because guess what? I eat treats on occasion, too!


I get "Food Policed" all of the time and I know firsthand that it's obnoxious, which is why I'd never do it to somebody else. For example, it's very common to see me toting along a little cooler full of meat and veggies and people always feel compelled to say something. These comments range from innocent questions such as, "That looks good! What are you eating?" to downright snarky remarks like, "What a hassle. You should just eat what you want. You only live once!" And heaven forbid when I actually do indulge - that ends up getting much more attention that it deserves, too!

You Don't Need to Justify Your Choices

We are adults and as adults we get the opportunity to make our own choices. These choices range from what we want to wear, to how we style our hair, to what we choose to eat. Of course I want you to be healthy, but I know better than to shove it down your throat. Make your decision, whatever it may be, and stand firmly behind it. You don't need to defend yourself to me. So invite me to dinner and eat your chocolate cake if you want to. Or don't.

Oh, and when we're together, we don't have to talk about nutrition or fitness. Really, we don't. I'll happily chat about it if you'd like, but don't feel compelled. I like fashion, traveling, dogs, books, psychology... There is more to me than just fitness and nutrition.

To my fellow fitness friends - Can you relate to this? How do you handle those situations where people feel guilty for indulging in a treat in front of you? What do you say to people to make them feel more comfortable?
Shoot me a comment below!











33 comments:

  1. This is SO true and I always feel so compelled to change topics quickly when the focus is brought to "You would never eat this, would you?" or some other semi-snarky comment about how my nutrition is "SO good." I try to just comment that I am a person too and I enjoy treats every once in a while! It's annoying, but I suppose it's flattering as well.

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    1. Yes! The ol', "You'd never eat this, would you?" remark! That one is probably on the list of the top 10 we all hear.
      When I indulge in some chocolate or a glass of wine I definitely don't care what anybody else is thinking! ;)

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  2. I hear you loud and clear. I think people tend to think we're judging their choices to eat cake or whatever and feel the need to defend themselves. Our choices are our choices. Those of us toting around coolers of meat love to have treats from time to time - we just tend to limit the times we indulge. And, when we do, we sure as hell don't feel the need to make excuses for it!

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    1. Absolutely! Nobody is getting in the way of my treat when it's time and I don't care what anybody thinks about it! ;)
      I wish those people wouldn't assume we are so judgmental. I've had friends tell me that they were going to get dessert, but because I'm not it "makes them feel guilty" and then don't end up ordering it. Eat what you want and be happy with it! :)

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  3. OMG - yes, Jen!! My friends who are overweight seem to get defensive about their nutrition choices or attack mine all the time. I get those one-sided conversations, too, about how they shouldn't be eating this or Rachel, how do you always eat so healthy, etc....

    I loved what you said about how we are all adults and make decisions about how we wear our clothes, how we feed ourselves and what we do with our lives. I wish everybody would stop with the food police thing, on both sides. It's just one more way people constantly JUDGE each other. Nobody has the right to judge anyone else on their food choices.

    I loved what you said about how people always want to talk about nutrition and fitness too - people do that to me all the time as well. They feel compelled to tell me what they ate within the last 12 hours and how much they've been exercising (or why they haven't).... Dude, it's YOUR choice, you're an adult and I'm not in charge of your choices!

    Great blog!

    I'm NOT always so good. I love pizza and chocolate cake!!!

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    1. Yes yes and YES! No matter what the situation, people always feel like they need to tell me how their workouts are going or what they've been eating. I'm certainly willing to listen but that is not what we HAVE to talk about! There are other facets to me aside from JUST fitness and nutrition!

      And ditto on the pizza and chocolate! Mm-mmm! :)

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  4. I had one of these situations the other day, they're not that common for me actually. I was in a quite long seminar for my Master Thesis class, so I brought a snack. Carrot sticks and roasted, unsalted chickpeas.

    Some other people in the class headed over to the café during break and bought the kinds of things you might expect (latte, cinnamon buns, cookies, muffins etc.). One lady upon returning and seeing my zip-loc baggie proceeded to call it squirrel food and said it almost made her afraid to eat her cinnamon roll. I just replied with a grin (as well as I could around a mouthful of chickpeas) and rather sarcastically said, "Yeah. I'm like that [a health nut]". Someone else piped in that people should just eat whatever they want and that was pretty much it.

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    1. "Squirrel food"! I love it. I get told that I eat "rabbit food" all of the time. Apparently I missed the memo that rabbits eat grass-fed beef and steak all of the time? ;) haha!

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  5. YES YES YES!!! I posted something along the same lines ...about how it seems strange that I should be the one feeling weird because I choose to eat healthy (most of the time). http://www.sistasofstrength.com/2011/12/when-did-eating-healthy-become-weird.html

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    1. I just read your post and holy moly, you are not kidding! When DID it become weird to eat healthy?! I'm always the oddball out that declines cake, etc, and people always give me crap about it. They give me crap and then they talk to me about how they "probably shouldn't be eating it". ::sigh::

      My favorite is when I go to a restaurant and order meat and veggies and people ask me if I'm on a diet. "Um, no? I'm just trying to be healthy." and they look at you like you're a total weirdo. Lol

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  7. When you do decide to have a treat with your friends, do they ever make comments like, "I thought you never ate that stuff?" or something similar? Just becuase you feel guilty eating dessert doesn't mean I have to.

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    1. Worse than me eating out of my cooler is when I actually DO indulge because it leads to a barrage of questions, remarks, or "Ha, told-ya-so's". It's incredibly annoying!

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  8. I can totally relate to all the comments above. I was a a New Years Eve party this year where someone actually said to me " no wonder you don't go out very often- you don't eat or drink anything enjoyable.." Excuse me, I love my food and I don't have to succomb to peer pressure to drink- we aren't in highschool anymore.

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    1. Oh boy. People tell me all of the time that I should just "enjoy myself". Ummm, that is exactly what I am doing!! I completely understand where you are coming from!

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  9. I find that people do this with me more on the topic of training. They tell me their workouts, what their trainers have them doing, how doing cardio just makes them feel "balanced," how they read this article once, etc etc etc. It can be super frustrating, especially when so often their information is so far from the truth of science! I have basically just given up talking about "fitness" with anyone...that's why I love GGS so much, know their are women who do get it.

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    1. I hear you! This is a tough one for me because I want to help everybody, just as I'm sure you do... but I also know that the majority of what I say will go in one ear and out the other. But everybody ALWAYS wants to talk about it!
      "What do you think of P90X?"
      "How 'bout the Zone diet?"
      "What do you know about the Barre workout?"

      ARGGGGGH!!

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  10. Lunchtimes at work are the worst, I eat what I want because it makes me feel good, makes my skin glow, fuels my body, tastes great, leaves me wholly satisfied and it makes me happy. I don't eat it to make you feel bad, as a judgement on what you eat or to shame you into some justification as to why you can't make the same effort as me, why you buy lunch instead of bringing your own, etc. I've only just realised how self-concious and appologetic I've become about my body shape lately. My arms draw stares & comments, people are compelled to comment on how much weight I've lost, how much my body has changed. It's almost never a positive 'wow you've been working hard' but it is nearly always accusatory. The same people who feel free to comment on my eating habits & my body shape would be terribly offended if I commented on their daily softdrink, bag of chips or chocolate & the 15 kilos they've gained. We just have different priorities.

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    1. I absolutely understand where you are coming from! "Are you starving yourself?" "Aren't you hungry?" Lol!
      For what it is worth... WOW! You've been working hard! ;)

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  11. Absolutely! I always have people telling me to "live a little" and to "treat myself". These people seem to think that training and eating clean is a chore, but I love it. I do have treats when I want to, but I don't think eating junk food means I'm "living". I had a colleague who was overweight and she would always justify the junk she ate: "I had a salad for lunch (pasta salad, mind you!) so a muffin for afternoon tea won't hurt me" and "I went for a 15 minute walk today so I deserve McDonalds for lunch". It used to drive me nuts because I never commented on what she ate, but she seemed to feel the need to justify everything to me.

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    1. The "live a little" line seriously needs to be banished forever. We are not only living a little, but we are living LONGER! ;)
      And I hate that people assume we don't like our clean food. It truly is delicious and I prefer it! I totally understand where you are coming from!

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  12. Just a few weeks ago I had a conversation (OK, she talked, I nodded) in which a colleague first congratulated me on my dedication and motivation then proceeded to tell me why she was out of shape and why she didn't have time to get back into shape. Oh, and how she eats super healthy. The entire discussion was her personal justification for her lifestyle -- and she was the one who started the discussion to begin with!

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    1. Yep! Exactly! I've taken to just smiling and politely nodding as they bring it up, talk about it, defend it and justify it. Then I switch the subject. :)

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  13. as I was reading this post I was nodding my head to EVERHTHING you said. This post is so important and so on point I can't even take it. Being a personal trainer and also a motivator, coach, health nut whatever you want to call it--i will be the LAST one to comment on what someone is eating. Whenever I am with someone they will always try to make an excuse or ask for my approval "this isn't bad is it?!" i say...if you like it...go for it, I am in NO way judging other peoples food choices. I also feel this way about when I tell people who I meet for the first time what I do for a living. "Im a personal trainer" and all of the sudden they stand a little taller, put their shoulders back, usually get a little awkward AND THEN continue to have me critique their current workout. The last thing I want to do when I am not working is talk about work. Fitness and training is my life and sometimes, I want to talk about the furthest thing away from it!

    LOVEDDDD thank you!

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    1. Hey Naomi!
      I actually go out of my way to mention that I'm a nutrition coach because as soon as those two little words pop up everybody gets defensive and weird and feel like they need to explain to me why they are eating what they are.
      "I'm only eating this bagel because I went to Zumba this morning..."
      "I'm haven't had any sweets this whole week so I'm going to eat a cookie."
      Be my guest! Nobody needs a nod from me to eat what they'd like.

      hahaha love that you said they want you to critique their current workout. I couldn't possibly relate MORE to that!

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  14. Great post! I can relate to this 100%. I often get made fun of for eating super clean and training hard and often. My response is to smile and laugh it off, no matter how annoying it is. I then remind them of the large bag of M&M's I downed last week. All the while in my head I am thinking, "I'm happy....are you?"
    Thanks for the great articles!

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    1. That is a good reply! I find myself telling them about my indulgences too. The myth that clean eating has to be miserable is so frustrating! We have a choice as to what we eat... just like everybody else. Clean eating makes me (and you) happy so I'm not sure why other people have a problem with it. So strange!

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  15. WOW, Jen, I can relate to this 100%. I used to be overweight and unhealthy, but over the past 5 years i've completely changed my lifestyle, eating habits and exercise - training really hard and eating clean. It's what I do because it makes ME happy and makes ME feel and look good to ME. I've gone out to dinner with friends who have actually gotten irriated at me for what I ordered for MYSELF at a restaurant. I try to make people understand that I don't care what they eat, I eat what I eat for ME, not to condemn others for what they do. Of course, it's equally irritating when people ask for food advice and then say "oh, forget it, I could never eat that..not eat this...etc, etc." I don't know why, but people just love to make comments about food to people like us. I always bring my food with me and am never without a clean snack/meal. I may look odd to some, but I don't care - I'm the one who will feel great and me happy looking in the mirror!!! Love all your articles - thanks a bunch!!!

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    1. Hey Alison!
      Congratulations on your progress over the last 5 years!
      I absolutely understand what you mean about people getting irritated at what you order for YOURSELF at a restaurant. I ALWAYS get eyeball rolls or some type of comment - ALWAYS. Or there are always the food bullies: "ohhhh come onnnnn. Just have some fries! Just have a little bit. SOME won't kill you! Come on!!" and they go on and on and on....

      Thanks for your support and for reading! :)

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  16. Great post! I just encountered a situation like this last night. A friend of mine was really craving McDonald's chicken nuggets and spent probably close to an hour total talking about them throughout the lead up, the drive to McDonalds, the wait, and the purchasing and eating of the McNuggets. The whole time, she just kept saying things like, "I shouldn't eat these...you wouldn't eat these.." I felt so uncomfortable!

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    1. hahaha! That is hilarious!! If you're going to eat them then my goodness eat them and enjoy them! And I completely understand what you mean about it turning into a horribly uncomfortable situation!

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  17. I hate how I feel around friends and family who always watch every single thing that goes into my mouth, like they are the food police! This is one of the most frustrating and annoying things about my family. What I chose to eat makes ME the wierd one. The worst question I get is "Can you eat that!?" if I do chose to indulge at a family function. Or they'll offer me something to eat (even though I already brought my own food) followed immediatly by "Oh but you can't have that..." I often reply, "I CAN have whatever I want, I just most often CHOOSE to have what makes my body feel great!" Its hurtful how they make comments how I 'starve' my kids because I don't allow sugar and my kids (ages 4 and twin 3 year olds) CHOOSE for themselves fruit and veggies at parties vs. other crappy options. I've never been prouder to see my daughter walking around happily munching on broccoli and strawberries and hear someone say 'Wow, that kid eats fruits and vegetables like its candy!' AWESOME:)

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  18. Jen .. I think it's more about the fact that you've already made and acted on your mental connection between good health and good eating habits. Most people already somewhat have an idea of what good eating habits are but lack the mental toughness or are unable to make that final mental connection to it. So it's rather easy for those who still eat foods toxic to their health to misplace their "self guilt" onto someone (you) for their own mental weakness. The Bill Clinton era brought us this "feel good now" mentality which spreads anywhere from issues surrounding sex to the way we eat. Watching TV the other night (America's Funniest Home Videos) and it's amazing at how many children below the age of 10 are already over weight. That starts at home with mom and dad ... who indulge in foods they already know are not what can be considered a healthy choice. Maybe if we can get past this feel good society we can then start making good choice for our health and NOT misplace our guilt onto those who actually care about themselves. <=== long rant ... sorry ... lol

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