Health Shaming: How to stay true to you

It seems like we've become a society really good at finding fault in others. Women with healthy weights to those with a couple extra pounds are depicted as too fat. Are you naturally slender? You're probably too skinny with tons of restrictions and an obsession with food and exercise. Recently it's been exciting to see the media worshipping curvy women like Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj, but do we only accept that body type if women are curvy in all the 'right' places?

       Fat shaming is just one of the ways we put others down based on appearance and lifestyle choices. Fat shaming, skinny shaming, and overall body shaming are depleting self esteems of men, women, boys, and girls everywhere. Regardless if our generation is becoming 'too sensitive' or not, I want to speak out about something I see firsthand affecting more people than most think.

       Health shaming. That's a new one. It may go under the radar, but can be seen through comments like:

"Let me guess, the health nut is going to order a salad again?"... "I was going to suggest ice-cream, but you're probably too healthy for that."... "You're being boring! Live a little."..."You've been healthy enough, you can indulge!"... "I could never be healthy like you, I enjoy food too much."... "You look fine, why do you exercise so much?"

       Have you ever wanted to order a salad at a restaurant but chose the cheeseburger instead to escape the scrutiny and comments from others at the table? While body shaming is most prevalent on social media, health shaming mostly comes from friends and family making it difficult to dismiss when it's coming from ones you love. When someone makes a passive aggressive comment, or seems to undermine your hard work, it can be hard not to immediately be on the defense and make a snarky comment back. Here's some common examples of health shaming and example responses to help during those times to keep the peace.

"But I made this dish just for you! It's the holidays, come on, you can have a little."
I call them Food Pushers. Most of the time it's your mom, your dad, you grandparents, or your coworkers. It can be hard to deny them because they only want you to be happy, comfortable, and enjoy the foods they made. But when you find your body doesn't do well on certain foods, there are ways to reply without pointing out what's wrong with their dish. If you're worried about coming off as ungrateful, you can try to find other ways for them to be hospitable to you, by asking them for a drink, to show you where something is, or give them a compliment. If the Food Pushers are suggesting you just have one because one won't kill you, you can say, "Thanks, but I just know I probably wouldn't stop at one!" or "I'm really working on changing the way I feel through the foods I eat." This way, explaining your values and goals instead of defending yourself will make it easier to understand.

"I would work out as much as you, but I'm busy with work and a family."
It may be hard not to react when someone says something like this because it can be seen as a subtle jab at where your priorities lie. You may question if you actually do work out too often, or if you should focus on other things like this person does. Instead, you can reply with "Working out makes my body feel really good and is such a stress reliever for me!" This way, you're explaining why you choose to exercise and you might even inform them with some info along the way. As long as you stay true to the reasons why you exercise, you shouldn't think twice about why someone is questioning you.

"Oh no, did you bring your weird food again?"
Eating healthy sometimes has a snobby and gross connotation to it. Vegan, gluten-free, and other buzzwords come off as pretentious and not as tasty as more common choices. These foods may also be weird to most people because they're different than what they're used to seeing and eating. We all want to fit in with whatever group we're in to a certain extant, but if you find that certain dietary habits make you happy, keep doing it regardless! Sure, some people may make fun of your weird kale chips, but others may find it interesting and might ask you for the recipe.

Why you Should Stay True to your Habits:

  1. You can serve as an example for others that are interested in what you're doing
  2. Your body will thank you for nourishing it with foods it thrives on
  3. You will be happier with your decision made by you, not by somebody else

       Basically, I'm here to say that you should order that salad if it's what you truly want, if it makes your body feel good, or if it helps you accomplish the goals you're working towards. I'm also here to say if you're craving a slice of pizza from your favorite restaurant, then you should get that. Listen to YOUR body, what makes your body feel good, and what YOU want to do. Don't defend yourself, always give others the benefit of the doubt for why they may be making comments, and overall, stay true to you. You may not realize it at the time, but the real you can serve as an example to others about living a happy, vibrant life.