At least several times a week, I hear comments from co-workers, family or friends about what’s on my plate. I smile, maybe mention my food allergies, maybe give a slight explanation for why I eat what I eat, and move on.
And then, at work the next day, a coworker commented, “Don’t give me judgy eyes,” when I looked over to see what she was eating as she unwrapped a delicious-smelling egg and cheese on a bagel.
Maybe it’s knowing I’m a dietitian, maybe it’s because I’m always a lunch (and a gazillion snack) bringer, but I get comments about what or how I’m eating at least a few times every week.
And they’re not just inquisitive, Oh what is that, it looks really good, sort of comments… They’re more like “Here comes Chelsey making us all feel bad for eating cupcakes…” when all I did was grab my afternoon snack because eating cupcakes to celebrate the intern’s last day isn’t safe for me (thank you food allergies!). I never claimed to have a perfect diet!
And I’m used to it… I was that kid with a different cupcake at birthday parties because of my nut allergies. And even though I didn’t officially sit at the “nut free” table in middle school, I was always hyperaware of what I, along with everyone else, was eating.
But aren’t we all adults here? Wasn’t bullying supposed to stop by now??
I guess not… but who gave us the right to comment on – or even worse, JUDGE – what others are eating? (Ya know, unless you’re my client and I polite-fully comment – never judge! – what you’re eating!)
Even as a dietitian, food bullying makes me insecure. Yup, sad to admit it, but it’s true! And why?? Don’t I know when I’m hungry, what my body is craving and when I’m full? Yup, I sure do, so why do I care if others think “Wow she’s eating a lot of snacks today,” or “That looks like mush?”
Because we all have an innate desire to fit in. Being different is incredible – self described weirdo over here ((hands up!)) – but it can be hard when we’re in a new situation or trying something new…like a new way of eating.
Who actually wants to be the one out to dinner asking a gazillion questions? I promise, it’s not that fun every. single. time.
But we gotta do what we gotta do… Whether it’s for safety — like in the case of food allergies — or preference — because you want to eat better to make yourself feel better — you 100,000 percent have the right to eat WHATEVER you want … without judgment, snide comments, or even seemingly harmless commentary from the peanut gallery.
So to anyone who is eating slightly differently than you were before, or to those trying to relinquish control to dieting demands (you CAN do it!!), I know it’s hard to ignore food bullying and feel confident about your food decisions. I get it — it’s hard to feel great about your food choices when people have something to say about it. But, you’re not alone!
I find that oftentimes people make comments about what other people are eating because they have their own food insecurities. There are so many mixed messages in the media about what to eat, what is right, what is “best,” it’s no wonder we have no freakin’ clue what to eat! And that makes some people insecure when you appear confident in your decisions.
So remember… You have got to do you… because no one else knows how food makes your body feel. No one else has to live with the stomachache you get from going too long without eating (yup, totally talking about myself right now!). No one else needs to take medication you need to take if you develop diabetes or heart disease. No one else will be suffering if with an itchy rash, or worse, if you accidentally ingest something that is contaminated with an allergen. So, move over food bullies. I’m here to do me. And you do you.
I want to know: Have you ever been a victim of food bullying?