Thursday, June 06, 2013

Food busybodies

A few weeks ago I mentioned how much it annoys me when people view spicy foods as more macho but really that whole rant is also part of another problem that's really taken over.

Basically, the thing that bothers me the most is how invested people are in what other people are eating. I'm constantly getting people telling me their opinions on what I do and don't eat, and most of these people know nothing about me and why I may or may not choose to eat something. The only people who's opinions I value when it comes to food are my doctors (and even then only some of them) and a few select friends who understand the complex interplay between my health issues, my personal tastes, and everything else that's going on.

It's when you post a picture of your dinner to social media and somebody just has to pipe up and say something about your food. It's when you order at a restaurant and you ask for something to be left off and somebody gives you a speech about how it's good for you. Or you mention a particular place you went to eat, and the person just HAS to talk about the fat content of the typical meal at that place.

I read stories on websites like "Not Always Working" where even wait staff will have an opinion about what people are getting and sometimes bring them the wrong thing because they "should" want something else.

You also get those people who can't believe you don't like something they love. I was once at a catered lunch (a very informal thing) where they had some eggplant something or other. I didn't get any, and the caterer asked why, I just said I don't really like eggplant and I got the same line I've heard so many times, "that's because you haven't tried THIS eggplant!"

No, it's because I don't like eggplant. This is such a horrible thing to say to somebody, because then I felt required to try it, I didn't like it, and he came by later to ask how I liked it. What do I say, "actually I was right, it was terrible." That's impolite, and unlike those people I don't want to be rude.

Or when you go to a family dinner, and everybody is saying "did you get some of the corn pudding, you have to get some of Aunt Busybody's homemade corn pudding!" What's even worse is when you're not feeling well and you don't want to eat at all, then everybody is trying to force you to eat. "Oh, but you NEED to eat!" No, I need to let my stomach settle.

A few months ago, I made a random tumblr post mentioning different companies that support marriage equality and gay rights. Most of them were pre-packaged food companies, and I'd say a good 10% of the responses were "good for them but they still make poison" or "if their food wasn't such trash that would be great." Really? REALLY? First of all, back off Oreo's man, or we'll have to fight. Second, keep that crap to yourself. Every time there's a news story about a restaurant, somebody will pipe up with "I don't eat that junk" like it makes them superior or special. News flash: it doesn't make you special, it makes you a judgmental jerk who can't keep their mouth shut.

There's a way to express that you like a food without being a jerk about it. If somebody says, "I haven't tried a lot of Mexican food," you can reply with, "I really love the breakfast burritos at Anita's, have you ever had them?" But if somebody says, "I always get sick when I eat avocado" then you don't go "but you HAVE to try my guacamole!" If somebody mentions they're addicted to diet soda, if you know them well enough you could mention that you read an article the other day about some new studies about artificial sweeteners. But if it's a random co-worker that says they can't wait to chow down on some fast food after work, don't start talking about processing plants.

Stop trying to make people eat, stop trying to act like everybody should eat the exact same way, and stop acting like whatever food choices you've made are the only "right" ones.