The “Food Shaming” Phenomenon

The “Food Shaming” Phenomenon

“Oh my god you’re having dessert? I thought you were on a diet! Won’t you feel guilty? Looks like you’ll have to work extra hard in the gym tomorrow to burn that off!”

“Seriously, pizza and pasta? Why’d you pick them? They’re so high in carbs.”

“The only reason why I’m indulging in this is because it’s my cheat day today”.

“She eats so healthily, I wish I could be more like her!”

These are some common phrases that most of us have probably heard from our family members, friends or colleagues at some point.

With the #cleaneating, #paleo, #lowcarb, and #healthy trends being all the rage now, the numerous famous personalities sharing snippets of their diets on various social media platforms as well as the constant bashing of the junk food industry, carbs, sugar, sodium and fat by marketers, people have inevitably become extremely conscious of the food choices that they make. This mindfulness of the types of food that we put into our bodies (when not taken to extreme, obsessive levels) is certainly good for the general population’s wellbeing but has also resulted in an increasing number of individuals engaging in the unfortunate act of “food shaming”.

“Food shaming” basically involves the policing of what others are putting on their plates and the subsequent criticism of their choices if they do not conform to our personal ideals. For instance, there are those who jump at every opportunity to condemn people’s seemingly “sinful” and “unwise” food choices.

bread makes you fat

One prime example would be that particular person in your life who exclaims disapprovingly when you purchase a beef brioche burger in front of them and never fails to remind you about the amount of refined flour, butter and sugar that you are ingesting by popping that donut in your mouth. This person possibly even proceeds to lecture you for “tempting” them with a picture of a decadent chocolate cake slice that you uploaded on Instagram.

Chocolate CakeChocolate Cake. Image by: Simon Law

Such condemnation of people’s unhealthy diets occurs around us on a daily basis but surprisingly, it turns out that “food shaming” does not discriminate.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who smirk when they see others drinking their cold-pressed juices from glass bottles, eating their kale, quinoa and free-range skinless chicken breast salads or slurping up their acai bowls topped with chia seeds, goji berries and nuts. In certain cafes, those who ask for almond milk lattes are scoffed at by baristas while those who request for special gluten-free options are treated with scorn by service staff. Moreover, for newly converted vegetarians/vegans, they are frequently subjected to mortified looks from their mates and constantly have to deal with the influx of ignorant questions that follow, i.e. “Why would you do that? How do you even survive without meat?! Where do you get your protein from?!”

Kale Quinoa SaladKale and Mushroom Quinoa Salad. Image by Jennifer

It’s truly worrying that in the world of today, whichever dietary path we go down, we will inevitably become a victim of “food shaming” as someone will always be judging and commenting about the food choices that we make. Hence, I think the simple point that this article is trying to make is that each person should be solely responsible for their own diet and health and not anyone else’s. In essence, don’t judge, eat what you want and what makes you feel good about yourself. Don’t ever feel pressured by influences from the media and the snarky, judgmental remarks of others. You shouldn’t need to justify your food choices to anybody. Just do you.

So, if you feel like it, go ahead and have that chocolate brownie with a generous dollop of ice cream after your main course. Drink your green smoothie with pride. Don’t be embarrassed to ask if the meal you are about to order contains gluten. And if you’re a vegetarian/vegan about to be bombarded by that string of infamous questions, silence them immediately by asking, “Where do you get your fibre from?!”

Header image credit: Stacy Spensley

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