Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
Once upon a time, I had a job that required me to sit at a reception desk. I'd leave things out for guests and coworkers, like a bowl of candy. Except, nearly every time someone came up to grab a bite-size Snickers, they'd comment about it. "Well, I had a salad for lunch, so I can have just one of these." "You're evil, leaving this up here for grabs." "How many bite-size Snickers do you think add up to a full candy bar? I can probably have a couple more." The common thread between these statements was they all sounded like justifications. Each person felt the need to give a reason for grabbing the goods, rather than simply saying "Hello," taking one, and being on their way.
This is a prime example of food shaming — a habit many of us have developed where we criticize each other and ourselves for the kinds of food we're eating. Even though you know a kale salad is healthier than a slice of pizza, you sometimes choose the 'za anyway. That's fine. It's the way you frame that choice that can be harmful. Michelle May, MD explained to Women's Health, "When we judge food as being 'good' or 'bad,' we also judge ourselves and other people as 'good' or 'bad,' depending on what we ate." The result? A fairly polarized view of what we eat with little room in between in which we feel comfortable with our diet. Lori Lieberman, RD, MPH., elaborates on this phenomenon. "My sense is that people are more likely to pass judgment on other people's styles of eating when they're less grounded and comfortable with their own way of eating," she told the magazine.
So, what's the way around food shaming? One popular method is mindful eating. Listening to your body can really alter what you eat, and when you eat it. And, call it out when you see someone (even if that someone is yourself) entering judgmental territory. Head over to Women's Health to get the full scoop on food shaming. And, don't explain away your next Snickers trip — just do it. (Women's Health)