There are plenty of food-based activities at my company. We use it to welcome people, to say goodbye, to celebrate Friday, to mourn Monday, to discuss important celebrity issues over lunch, or just because. Employees occasionally leave treats in the kitchen for people to share, and the firm sporadically buys bagels and lox for all. These events are a good way to bond and get to know people outside of the office setting in which I usually see them. However, inevitably, there is always, always, at least one comment like these when it comes to the actual eating:
While taking a bagel: Haha, I should not be eating these, but they look so good!
While enjoying some fries: This is why I have salad for lunch!
Eating a cookie: I think this is okay, I had such a great workout this morning, right?
On taking a second cookie: Ugh, why am I doing this! This is like my second cookie, someone take them away! I’m getting fat!
On appearing dazed and with blood on their clothing: So I was just… at the library.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my co-workers and I’m lucky to work with such great people. This is a larger criticism of our reflexive belief that we need to either justify or condemn ourselves for any bit of unhealthy food. This isn’t limited to my co-workers, but to everyone who thinks they need to explain the donut in their hand. I’ve heard customers justify their coffee or pastry orders to Starbucks cashiers, who truly do not give a shit. Skinny, slim, average, and overweight alike, most of us have done it.
I used to be much more sensitive about what I was eating in public. Perhaps struggling with my weight made it worse. Getting some French fries? I hoped they didn’t think I was just another fatty gorging on fries. Ordering a salad with grilled chicken, dressing on the side? I hoped they didn’t think I was just another fatty on a diet that would never work. Check a fake text at Potbelly’s when buying a sandwich AND a cookie to make sure that I’m getting the correct type of cookie for my “friend”? Been there.
Then I finally realized that if someone is judging me for what I'm eating, then quite simply, they are the ones with the problem. And if I am judging someone for what they're eating, then I have a problem. Unless they stole my lunch from the fridge, the food choices made by a fellow adult are none of my damn business. So when people laugh about how they can’t believe how many pieces they’ve eaten of the fancy French chocolate that someone bought while in Europe, and how they need to stop, I just shut up. Even if they probably shouldn’t be eating that third donut, it’s between them and the donut.
I think part of why we assume others are judging our food choices - hence the need to justify or condemn them - is because we’re doing it to ourselves first. It ties into the larger problem that so many of us have, which is feeling guilty about our food choices. I’ve ranted about this before, about how feeling guilty over something I ate is just an utter waste of time, serves no purpose, and is often used as an excuse for inaction or to continue eating. It’s not going to change anything and I didn’t actually hurt anybody, so I need to move on and forgive myself for my mistakes.
That’s part of why I started a blog. How many people want to hear my debates over 1300 net calories vs. 1100 net calories, or about how I’m deciding whether or not to count vegetables in my daily totals? I write here so that anybody who is interested can read, and anybody who’s not isn’t forced to listen to me describe the controlled experiments I conduct on my heart rate monitor. Similarly, nobody wants to hear about why their co-worker is or is not eating something.
We feel like we need to justify all these things, forgetting that nobody cares that much, and it’s none of their business anyway.
Leah's Proposed Alternative Eating Commentary:
- "This is/that looks delicious.”- "In my studies on the planet Thorcrondeux 92, I learned that humans get energy by putting particular substances into their unattractive face gaps and I feel that I am fitting right in. Shall we talk about the lack of water falling from the sky, or the current temperature?"