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.
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.
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.