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Take Back Healthy Eating

October 17, 2012

I hate being complimented on my weight loss, real or perceived. I hate it as much as, if not more than, being criticized for weight gain.

The obvious reason is that I hate the intended insult. They think I look great NOW, after I lost some weight, but before, they couldn’t stand what a fat pig I was. Point that out, and people will deny it vociferously. Whether they like it or not, that’s the message being sent.

Something else I hate just as much is when people comment on stereotypically healthy habits. Whenever a fat person goes out for a jog or chooses a salad over some other, less morally upright option, people feel the need to comment on it. Usually, these comments involve some element of healthism or fat prejudice.

  • Healthism — “Being good today?”
  • Anti-fat douchebaggery — “Finally started that diet?”

Sorry, prejudice isn’t a strong enough word for that kind of comment.

The sad part is that most of these women are not what any rational person would consider fat. They are average, but they feel a pressing need to lose weight. Other people, instead of being a voice of reason, are joining in.

The idea that people choose healthy habits because they like them, not because they feel they need them, is something utterly foreign to some people. I choose that salad because I wanted it. I like lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, feta cheese, and vinaigrette together in one bowl. They were meant for each other, dude.

That, and the fact that fat people, like all people, need those nutrients. So that will entail eating a vegetable or two along the way. Just sayin’.

I don’t have much experience with the vegetarian or vegan communities, so maybe my idea of what it’s like isn’t correct. On the internet,* however, I see instance after instance of fat bigotry. People that “used to be fat” often credit veganism for their newfound slimness and blame the non-vegan junk diet that she perceives most people as eating.

Fat people who are bona fide veg/vegan might get told that they must be doing something wrong! They aren’t real veggies or that they have some sort of eating disorder. When someone takes up the veg lifestyle, I have often, personally, heard people comment that that person is trying to get healthy. Now, getting healthy can mean any number of different things, but as the conversation typically goes on, you know they are talking about weight loss.

When I hear comments about being good about food, it makes me want to feed my salad to some deer (we have a lot of those where I am) and go to McDonald’s. Except I don’t WANT to go to McDonald’s right now. I want something else.

So this is my message to the world: I don’t do healthy to please you. I don’t do it to preserve your tax dollars (or mine, since I do, in fact, work and pay taxes). I don’t do it to be thin. I do it because I want to. When I pick up that poor white-tailed deer’s dinner, I am not looking for comments from the peanut gallery. Okay?

I just want to eat this.

What about you. What do you like in the healthy food department? Do people comment on it when you choose those options? How do you respond?

*This is mostly on YouTube, so it might not be a representative sample.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2012 10:28 am

    When someone congratulates me on my healthy choices I always picture them patting me on the head. “Who’s a good fatty”? “Who’s the good fatty!!??” and me chewing carrots and saying “I am!!” as pre chewed carrots fall out of my infantile mouth.

    • October 18, 2012 11:19 am

      I was discussing your comment with my husband last night because I often feel that way when my dad “compliments” me on going to the park to exercise (it’s where he walks) even though I’ve been a regular exerciser pretty much my whole adult life, he just didn’t see it. Anyway, I couldn’t quite vocalize how his comment made me feel and you completely nailed it for me, and in my head, I added a baby talk voice to your words.


    • Mulberry permalink
      October 19, 2012 4:05 am

      Diann, that is an awesome comment. Especially when you consider that historically, fat people have often been portrayed as oversize babies, women especially. I recall some old pictures of fat women being exhibited wearing babydoll-style dresses and ribbons in their hair.
      Joanna, I’m in complete agreement with the first couple of sentences in your post. Especially when considering that my weight is just as much in control or out of control when I lose it as when I gain it. I don’t do either one deliberately. Sometimes I want a salad, sometimes a hamburger, sometimes a slice of cake. My weight can vary according to hormones, pills, age and disease, but very little as relates to dieting/exercise.

  2. October 17, 2012 10:41 am

    Fast food of most stripes makes me want to barf. This does not mean other people can’t eat it / enjoy it. I eat egg salad with raw veggies for breakfast most days. I imagine other people would think this is weird. But the protein / fat / nutrients ration works for getting me rolling in the AM. So hey – none of your business what I eat!

    I HATE HATE HATE being held up by co-workers as a “model of willpower” when I am eating soup as they eat french fries.

    Dude – eat your fries! I don’t care! Fried foods do a number on my gut. It’s the 2 hours of nausea that prevent me eating fries. Not “will power”. I LOVE FRIES! I LOVE DONUTS! I have learned the hard way to (mostly) just not eat them.

    Also – the fact that I have a BIG ASS SALAD every night for dinner? It’s because I LIKE SALAD!

    Ugh – I am with you on this one.

  3. Ada permalink
    October 17, 2012 12:30 pm

    Totally with you on this one. I eat a lot of soups and salads and never have any breads or snack cake type foods because my body cannot tolerate the gluten, not because I’m trying to eat healthy. I would really love to partake of the office donuts or pizza party on occasion, but it is just not worth the literal pain to do so.

    • Ada permalink
      October 17, 2012 12:31 pm

      And the gluten-free versions of those foods are priced WAY above my budget!

      • October 18, 2012 10:23 am

        And usually kinda gross…

        • Ada permalink
          October 18, 2012 10:49 am

          lol ya. that, too

        • The Real Cie permalink
          October 31, 2012 6:12 pm

          Fortunately I don’t have to eat gluten free, but there are certain items that happen to be gluten free, which I love and will recommend.
          Pamela’s cookies and Udi’s breads and muffins can be bought in many natural food stores and are absolutely delicious. The only problem with Pamela’s cookies is I don’t want to share them and can eat the entire box in one sitting!

  4. Posthumously perfect permalink
    October 17, 2012 1:32 pm

    I’m a fat vegan. I’ve been told I’m doing it wrong. After knowing me for awhile, some thin vegans will tell me I’m doing everything “right,” and therefore my fatness is not my “fault.”

    We’re not friends any more.

    I also have celiac disease, so being gluten free & vegan means I eat nothing but plant food, and barely any processed conventional food. I can’t remember the last time I ate fast food, although I’ve had French fries from In n Out burger on my last road trip.

    Doctors have tried to give me diet advice but when I challenge them on nutrition knowledge the sputter & use circular logic. Then tell me to take fish oil. (pro tip: not vegan. Or necessary. Chia & flax seeds and walnuts taste much better.)

    I’m on a hemp seed kick. And I recently figured out pie crust (mmmm sorghum flour), so I’m on a veggie pot pie kick, too.

    Win a fruit-aholic. I’ll always choose fruit over candy or crisps. When I was a kid, my mom couldn’t keep enough in the house. I wasn’t dieting, and when anyone found out I just really like fruit, cue lectures about how fruit has sugar & sugar makes you fat.

    In fact, I’ve gotten the same argument about potatoes, carrots, and beans. THOSE FOODS HAVE CALORIES & CALORIES MAKE YOU FAT. Clearly, fat people need to just wire their jaws shut and never eat ever.

    For what it’s worth, I think the effects of this stupid reach far beyond insulting fat people. I feel alienated from the general vegan community (tho I’ve met GREAT fat vegans in my travels!), which Hurts the animals and the planet in the long run. Eating more plants is better for everyone, and if someone only sees stereotypes or hears negative comments about a tasty salad or veggie stir fry, they may not branch out to try one because they don’t need or want to diet, or be associated with those wackadoodle vegans.

    • Posthumously perfect permalink
      October 17, 2012 1:37 pm

      Sorry for the typos. I’m mobile! :/

  5. R. Alison Thomposn-Ray permalink
    October 17, 2012 4:09 pm

    I am also a fat vegan, and while not tied into a close “vegan community,” I get dirty looks, manly by other women, when I eat at a local vegan restaurant. There are times I want to walk up to them and ask them if my mere existence somehow offended them. I love being vegan, I have more energy now than I ever have, yet I feel like no one believes me when I explain WHY I went vegan (mainly animal rights and environmental). Why is it that being fat requires you to justify every aspect of you life to everyone, including total strangers! I recently saw a button that read “How dare you presume I’d rather be younger.” I want one that says “How dare you presume I’d rather be thinner!”

    • Glowred permalink
      October 17, 2012 7:39 pm

      Word to everything you said! I’m also vegan and I can relate to the holier-than-thou vegan stink eye. The very same thing happened to me at my local vegan restaurant by the female owner who works behind the counter. Every time I went there, she didn’t have a problem taking my money, but apparently it was too much to ask that she not give me the disapproving side-eye.That’s why I don’t eat there any more.

  6. October 18, 2012 11:18 am

    I used to never order salads in public precisely because I wanted to avoid the perception that I was dieting. But since finding HAES, I’ve developed a rock solid “Fuck that noise” attitude toward healthism. Now, I look at the WHOLE menu at restaurants and if a salad sounds good, I get it. I feel so much freer now. 🙂


  7. DeAun permalink
    October 20, 2012 5:38 pm

    I was a vegetarian for almost 10 years (and think I will be going back to it). I happened to lose weight, but looking back, I attribute that more to my body coming back into alignment after the stress of school and a horrible job. Even after the weightloss, I was still omgdeathfatz, but I felt so much better!! I was also doing meditation, working a lot, but better conditions, and my social life was pretty awesome.

    Since being in med school, I have gained weight, even though for the first two years, my lifestyle didn’t change much. It freaked me out because all around me I got “fat is bad and will KILL you.” Not that I hadn’t gotten that before, but this was from my professors, who were smart doctors right?? (pause for an eye roll)

    Since finding HAES, my conclusion is that huge amounts of stress and failing to care for myself makes me tired and I can’t think as well. I also happen to gain weight. When I eat mostly as a vegetarian, reduce stress, and am not stuck sitting in a lecture daily, I feel more mentally clear, have more energy, and have historically gone back to my body’s preferred omgdeathfatz weight, which is often less than when I am stressed.

    I figure I will take care of myself and feel better and we’ll see what happens in general. I certainly am going to work with my patients to find the path to their best health and fitness, whatever that might be. My current best health and fitness is certainly not equal to my ultimate best health and fitness, but each small step is helpful.

  8. October 20, 2012 8:08 pm

    It is true that many thin people do not know how to “appropriately” be around heavier ones, and sometimes it is hard to say whether or not their comments are truly coming from a good place. Are they really happy for you, or are they happy for themselves that perhaps there will be one less fat person in the world? And if it is the latter, what exactly is it about fat people that make skinny people’s skin crawl? I don’t think there is ever going to be a clear answer on this one, especially because it is a subjective experience for every person involved. Most people have their own baggage when it comes to weight issues, and it may forever be a heated topic.

  9. The Real Cie permalink
    October 28, 2012 1:13 am

    I hate being complimented on weight loss too. My weight fluctuates. I’m still the same person, regardless of what direction it may be going in. I tend to wear oversized clothes because I hate people remarking on my body at all. I’ve got issues surrounding that. Compliment me on my REAL accomplishments, not on my appearance.

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