Foodism. It happens to all of us.
I’m not referring to the common definition of foodism, which is:
- an exaggerated interest in the preparation, presentation and consumption of food
We can all relate to that right? I mean if you’re reading food blogs, you’re included in that group.
But what I’m talking about here is being prejudiced against the foods someone eats or a dietary lifestyle someone may have. Sometimes we dole foodism out, and sometimes we receive it – usually defensively.
I’ve been aware of this for awhile, but never really thought about it at great length until last night when I got a comment from Laura saying, “I love the purple potato… where did you get it? I bet that people in the office looked at you like, “What is that?!” I get a comment on what I’m eating almost every day and I really don’t eat anything very crazy!”
I did, in fact, receive several comments (both negative and positive) from my coworkers regarding my purple potato. I also receive, on average, two comments about my Green Monsters every day at work.
Yesterday I was told that my smoothie was the reason I was sick on Monday. Riiiight.
But, if you think about it… we’re all guilty of foodism, although it is usually more in our subconscious than the snarky remarks some of us may have received regarding our “unusual eats”.
Vegetarians have a reputation for being “self-righteous” and “condescending” toward those that consume meat. Not every vegetarian or vegan is that way by any stretch of the imagination, but there are those that have contributed to that stereotype (cough.. PETA… cough). But on the other hand, meat eaters often judge strict vegetarians as being “weird” or “hippies”. And people often accuse vegans of using their ethical convictions to mask an eating disorder.
And that’s not all. I often find myself silently judging overweight mothers pushing shopping carts full of processed junk food with two kids in tow – and I’ve read several accounts on other blogs of people who do the same. I usually check myself for it afterward and look into my own grocery cart and realize that I have many reasons to be judged as well. We all do.
But that doesn’t make it make sense. Why do we take something like food, one of the most utterly personal things in our lives, and make it a competition. Why is high protein better than high carb? Why is raw better than vegan? Why is Greek yogurt better than Yoplait? Why does anyone care what we put in our bodies besides the person doing the eating?
Of course we want to be healthy, and as healthy living bloggers it only makes sense to promote healthy foods that we love. But when does it go too far? When does all the literature and information out there about healthy eating start to interfere with who we really are and how we should be eating?
When I started thinking about this on an even deeper level, I started thinking of eating disorders. Like many people I have, and sometimes still do, struggled with disordered eating - even though it’s never reached the point of a true eating disorder.
I never really “got” what anorexia and other deprivation-based disorders were really all about because I was an “overeater”. I have always struggled with putting too much food into my body as opposed to not being able to put enough in. I could not fathom how people could manage to go days without eating. It blew my mind. I wouldn’t say I was judgemental toward eating disorders, but I was really ignorant about them.
Throughout this process of food blogging, I’ve come across several ED recovery blogs and they’ve really opened up my eyes. I’ve come to understand that it’s not necessarily about weight or body image, as it is about fear and control – something we all deal with to some degree or another.
Sometimes I’m hesitant to post something I’ve eaten for fear that someone will judge me for not being healthy enough, vegetarian enough, or what have you. I hold back on sharing something as simple as a container of full-fat yogurt because I’m afraid of what people might think – that someone will be foodist against me if you will.
It kills me when I read an ED recovery blog and see a comment from someone saying “If you’re so recovered, why aren’t you eating more?” or something else equally demeaning. Why should we offer anything but support in instances like these? Why is bringing someone, who is going through a hard time, down even an option.
It also bothers me when I see a commenter telling someone who eats a balanced, enjoyable diet that they eat too many carbs, or too much meat, or not clean enough.
As food bloggers, we’re not giving anyone guidelines for how they should eat. Why would we do that? Everyone has to find out what works for them. And once you do, you should never have to apologize for it.
What works for me is eating the foods I love, and trying to eat them in reasonable amounts. I strive to consume foods that are good for the environment as often as possible, without beating myself up when I eat something “bad”. Some people might not agree with my approach, but they don’t have to eat what I’m eating.
I’m completely ecstatic that books like Food, Inc., In Defense of Food, Eating Animals, The Kind Diet, etc. are getting the kind of attention they’re getting. But I think it’s also created a hyper awareness on food that could end up having negative effects on certain people. There’s just such a fine line between bringing up the issues and making the issues a standard that people must live up to.
I don’t really know what prompted this long-winded schpeel, other than I just wanted to think it through. I also hope it didn’t come across as self righteous, because that wasn’t my point at all. I just had a lot of thoughts swirling around in the old cabesa I guess.
If you made it through all that, then I shall reward you with my dinner from last night.
Okay, not such an exciting reward, but it was tasty – egg sammich, carrots and roasted garlic hummus.
Have you ever been the victim of foodism?
Oh, and P.S. I’m think I’m going to go for the 8K on Saturday!