The other day, I was at one of those typical backyard BBQs with a pool and music and miscellaneous homemade dishes. When it actually came time to eat, I opted for coleslaw, gooey mac n cheese, and a zucchini muffin. Others at my table loaded up with burgers, hotdogs, and/or chicken. Obviously, they noticed my lack of meat. It took awhile for anyone to actually ask me about it, which I thought was kind of funny; it’s just food! “Are you vegetarian?” I smiled, knowing this conversation could go one of two ways: 1) shame the shit out of meat and processed foods or 2) explain that I’ve experimented with food until I found what worked for my body and what didn’t.
Don’t worry. I chose the latter. Why bother stirring up unnecessary tension and hostility?
This discussion got me really thinking about food, cultures, our bodies, and how different they really are. For example, my best friend’s family immigrated to America from the Philippines (an Asian island), and they were shocked at the food portions and choices in here. Where they’re from, meals were much smaller, first of all, and they didn’t eat atypical American breakfast foods – i.e. pancakes, omelets, etc. Instead, the focused on foods similar to those pictured below: eggs sunny side up, rice, fish or pork, and pickled veggies.
To someone who grew up in central Pennsylvania with an abundance of home cooked donuts, blueberry pancakes drowned in syrup, and crunchy, greasy bacon, I never would’ve considered eating anything like this that early in the morning! Their way of eating was just so different than mine, it threw me for a loop. But is it okay for us to eat so differently?
Is a raven like a writing desk?
(Yes, the answer is yes…) Very few people throw a fit or become overly judgey when it comes to different cultures eating different foods or at different times in the day. We think it’s interesting, hence foreign cuisines being a massive part of taking vacations. So then why, here in the world’s largest melting pot, do people feel the need to shame other people’s food choices? Who cares if you dislike chocolate or avoid red meat or only buy whole foods? It’s your body and your goals. You know what works best for you, not the other 300 million Americans trying to force their own diet upon you.
The number of social media accounts, commercials, even books dedicated to body shaming are endless which is totally awesome, because our bodies deserve love and appreciation. But, uh, I think you guys forget to mention other things that go along with body appreciation. I don’t know, like, the custom diet each unique body fuels itself with? If our bodies are as different as we have come to believe, then why do our food choices have to fit into a certain mold as well? Come on, a marathon runner wouldn’t maintain the same diet as a crossfit athlete. I mean, look at them!
Yeah, I know this is an extreme comparison, but it gets the point across. Both of these amazing humans have worked out what the best food is for their specific lifestyles. Marathoners, like Edna, focus their meals around carbohydrates and fats such as peanut butter sandwiches. Crossfitters, like Matt, work their meals around protein and complex carbohydrates such as chicken breast with a sweet potato.
Whether someone lifts or runs, avoids animal products or can’t get enough of them, calculates exact macros or flows more intuitively, that person does so for personal health. I, myself, enjoy vegetarianism. Since I weightlift so frequently, however, I needed to make adjustments to ensure I got enough protein. After some trial and error, I’ve found which foods help me perform at my best and which foods hinder my abilities. That’s all I need. It’s none of my business why someone follows a certain diet, and he/she shouldn’t feel pressured to defend that diet. Respect other’s choices, because they don’t really affect you.
Life’s too short to fuss over what diet your friends are on or which snacks the celebrities are skipping. Eat what makes you happy and feel good. It’s that simple.