Diet Riot Please Keep Quiet
I was put on my first diet when I was 11. It was the Atkins diet (also known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach).
“The diet is based on the theory that overweight people eat too many carbohydrates. Our bodies burn both fat and carbohydrates for energy, but carbs are used first. By drastically reducing carbs and eating more protein and fat, our bodies naturally lose weight by burning stored body fat more efficiently.” (WebMD)
But my parents were divorced, and both sides of the family ate very differently. As an 11-year-old from a half Italian family, not eating carbs is basically the hardest thing ever. If you’re not eating pasta, you’re eating pizza, and if you’re not eating pizza, you’re eating bread, and if you’re not eating bread, you’re eating breaded meat. I was confused, and 11, and there was no winning.
Some sources told me that I should eat whatever, whenever, forever. Other sources told me to never eat certain things. I was stuck in a perma-diet-hating-carb-loving/hating-food-tornado-volcano that ravaged my childhood.
So 11-year-old Cella had questions: “Am I supposed to eat carbs, or are carbs the devil? Did I need to eat fat, or was fat making my fat fatter? Did I need protein? What’s a protein? Should I be scared of protein? Why is sugar bad? Is sugar bad? Is sugar good? What about salt? WHY WON’T ANYONE ANSWER MY QUESTIONS?”
It was frustrating, but I eventually realized I would soon be old enough to make my own dietary choices. No longer would I have to avoid bread, or eat too much bread. I could enjoy the right amount of bread because I said it was the right amount of bread. I could eat whatever I wanted, be it salad or candy, and I could be happy with myself because my choices were my own. I was no longer put on trendy diets, or being forced to avoid toast. I figured, “Hey, I’m done with people commenting my personal choices and dictating what I can eat!”
Anyone who knows me knows my love of diet-drink-anything. Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi probably make up 73.2% of my bodyweight. Now, I choose to drink diet drinks because I like them. Not because of the no calorie business, but because I, personally, enjoy the taste. I like the taste of synthetic sweetener, and aspartame, and blah blah yes I know.
See, the last thing I want is for you to tell me your opinion about my drink. I don’t want to hear about how ‘bad my drink is for me’. I don’t want to hear about how ‘I shouldn’t drink that because it’s really bad for me’ or that ‘it’s like really bad for you, okay’? Please do not tell me that I drink too much of my drink, then proceed to list times you’ve seen me drink my drink this week, and then have me defend the reasons for why I drank my drink.
So I guess this brings me to the main point of this blog post:
Please do not voice your opinion on someone’s food or drink choices unless they ask you. It makes some people uncomfortable. Please do not tell me that the burger I’m about to stuff into my beautiful face is gross, fatty, and ‘bad for me’. I know that. I knew that when I bought it. I knew that before I bought it. I’ll know it all through eating it, and I’ll know it afterwards.
I don’t want to hear how many calories are in the food I eat. I don’t want to hear that the entire pizza I’m going to eat alone with my cat will go ‘straight to my ass’ (which isn’t always a bad thing, by the way). I don’t want to hear about your friend’s awful experience with the food I’m eating. I don’t want to listen to your condescending/sympathetic voice when you ask, “How many have you had?”, and I certainly don’t want to hear how bad my food choice is for me.
Why should people feel the need to comment on what I choose to eat? Why do some people feel the need to give me a look when I’m eating triple-layer-über-moist-chocolate-cake-volcano, but not when I’m blowing the steam off some brocoli? Why are people allowed to tell me how unhealthy my eating habits are when I haven’t asked for their opinion?
S.E. Smith wrote a fantastic post on Meloukhia.net called DO YOU CARE ABOUT MY HEALTH, OR JUST THINK I’M GROSS? BE HONEST. Throughout the post, she talks about being a ‘good fatty’, and the concept of personal choice.
“I have a lot of issues with my body, but my size isn’t really one of them. It is what it is. The reasons I’m fat are complicated and not really your business. And yeah, I am unhealthy, and the reasons for that aren’t your business either, although I know you want to rush to assume that I’m unhealthy because I’m fat.
I don’t have an obligation to be healthy, actually, and I don’t have an obligation to rush to assure you that I’m a ‘good fatty’ with great cholesterol and good scores on other health indicators allegedly related to weight. I don’t have an obligation to tell you that fat isn’t correlated with health because I shouldn’t have to justify the existence of fat people by informing you that you don’t understand how fat bodies work, and you’re not familiar with the latest studies on fatness, morbidity and mortality, health indicators, and social trends.
Because fat people have a right to exist, healthy or unhealthy, and this whole argument about health is a red herring. It suggests that if only fat people could prove that fat and health aren’t coupled, they’d be okay. Society is just concerned for us—worried that we’ll be felled too soon, taking our glorious minds into the ground with us to rot, all because we were fat and we refused to take personal responsibility for our fatness.“
I’ve gone my whole life with people talking about my dietary choices, and I’ve gone my whole life with people commenting on my dietary choices. I will never be ‘right’ when it comes to what I eat publicly. If I eat healthy, some will assume, “Fatty is trying a diet”. If I eat unhealthy, some will assume, “Fatty has no self control”.
And it doesn’t just happen to fat bodies. There are blogs dedicated to telling thin people to ‘eat a burger’, pointing out how creepy their bodies are. When there’s one person who gets criticized for eating too much, there’s another being made fun of for eating too little. For lots of people, there’s no winning. For anyone. Ever.
It’s hard to enjoy your favourite drink or meal if you’re waiting for someone to comment,
so don’t comment.
Whether they’re an 11-year-old child, a teenager, young adult, or grandparent, do not make a person uncomfortable about their personal choices.