all Mental Health Weight Issues

Why Food Shaming Is Destructive

June 27

Food is the new ‘shame’…

Food shaming is destructive, shows a person’s incredible arrogance, and creates feelings of unnecessary humiliation and guilt. Unfamiliar with the term? Food shaming can be defined as:

  • Making comments on someone’s food choice ~ it may have been done to you or you may have done it yourself. Think; one person orders a salad with dressing on the side – the other person orders the ‘deluxe double cheeseburger with duck fat french fries and truffle butter dipping sauce…

  • ‘Critical glances’ cast askance ~ looking or being looked at with an air of disapproval based on your own or another’s food choice.

  • Food Lecturing ~ whether it’s Paleo/Vegetarian/Vegan/Gluten Free ect., espousing unsolicited views on your food choices, and why others should eat only as you do.

'Food Shaming' shows a person's arrogance & creates unnecessary humiliation... Click To Tweet


Honestly, until recently, I’ve never given much thought to this phenomena. It has always been a part of the fabric of much of my life and relationships (talk about 1st world problems!). At times I have been guilty of this ‘shaming exercise’ myself. Albeit in a ‘joking’ way, but in every joke there is a little truth…(otherwise it wouldn’t be funny).

Seriously though, when you think about it, what in the world is the point of this? If you really believe you are ‘helping’ someone by acting as if what they choose to ingest is the equivalent of clubbing a baby seal for a new handbag, it may be possible the gravity of the issue has become disproportionate to reality.

I’m not advocating the idea that education on healthy eating habits should be thrown out the window, just that ‘shame’ might not be the proper tool for achieving this most lofty of goals.

Why Food Shaming Is Destructive

Food Shaming Is Destructive

  • Eating Disorders ~ especially with the very young and/or easily influenced. Obsession with ‘types’ of food can create unhealthy relationships with diet and health that have devastating consequences. It is estimated that over 10 million people in the U.S. alone have an eating disorder, and one of the many factors thought to contribute to this is ‘shaming’ over certain foods.

  • Avoidance Behavior ~ how truly ridiculous is it that grown adults have to physically ‘hide’ to evade being seen eating certain types of food? Or, that time spent with certain individuals is avoided, because it would be nice to eat your ‘double chocolate malted crunch’ in peace for a change.

  • Damaged Relationships and Resentments ~ For the most part, the occasional barb or jest can (and should) be taken in stride. If we huff off at every negative word sent our way we’re going to be spending a lot of time alone. But on the flip side of the coin, habitual criticism that tears one down (no matter how well intended the ‘motivation’ behind it), will only create division.

How ridiculous that grown adults have to 'hide' to eat their food in 'peace'... Click To Tweet


Bottom line?…Let’s just stop this. If you’re doing it to others, ask yourself ‘why’. Really, what are you and the other person getting out of this? I doubt it’s anything helpful or constructive.
Let us concentrate our efforts on building up and encouraging one another, and less time commenting on the amount of ice cream someone has in their freezer.
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  • Reply halfa1000miles June 27 at 9:44 am

    OMG. I so agree. There is someone at work we eat with occasionally who ALWAYS comments on everyone’s plate. “You must have been REALLY hungry”. Stuff like that. Good manners just dictates you don’t talk about what people do or do not put on their plate.

    And I am guilty of being aware of this. I actually do “comparative portion leftover shame”. We go to this one Chinese restaurant where everyone orders a very heavy chicken dish (sesame chicken). I order something much “lighter” and less dense. They all get take home boxes and I feel like a heifer cause I eat mine. I feel like screaming “I would have leftovers if I ate THAT too”. Where does it stop? Ha

    • Reply kristine June 27 at 11:31 am

      HAHA! So true! It’s amazing to me how crazy it gets with food! Ah…we try to ‘control’ anything we can in a world we feel helpless in so often. But seriously, I just want people to be aware of how often we do this, and how ridiculous it truly is 😉

  • Reply Chronic Mom June 27 at 2:24 pm

    I love this. I grew up in a household that was run by a food shamer, it’s a miracle I never developed an eating disorder. I just don’t understand why everyone cares so much about everyone elses food, just eat and relax people!
    Chronic Mom recently posted…Bad advice given to people with FibromyalgiaMy Profile

    • Reply kristine June 27 at 2:44 pm

      Right?! Barring a legitimate food allergy, or disease like celiac, EVERYTHING in ‘moderation’! It’s when things get unbalanced in one direction or the other that problems arise. Thanks Shelley! 🙂

  • Reply Brittany W June 28 at 4:21 am

    I have celiac disease, so I am gluten free. But it bugs me to no end when people (even celiacs) are like “uh yeah gluten free is soooo much healthier,” because it’s not and a healthy diet varies from person to person. My grandmother is a huge food shamer. I have POTS and I need lots of salt. At one event during my pregnancy she TOOK AWAY the olives she had set out on the table because “the salt was bad for the baby.”
    Brittany W recently posted…Why I Love My Travel SystemMy Profile

    • Reply kristine June 28 at 6:55 am

      Thank you so much for this Brittany! I’m so glad someone with a LEGITIMATE food issue commented here! ‘D’ and I were just talking about this last night. There ARE people who most definitely require a certain type of diet that excludes/includes certain types of food to maintain their health. Unfortunately, there are those who feel they must adopt every ‘food trend’ that comes along and make it as their own personal mission to ‘save the world’ with it (usually in a superior/elitist manner). This takes away from individuals with Celiac/Diabetes/POTS ect. who require valid and necessary dietary attention. You ROCK Brittany! 😉 Thanks again! 🙂

  • Reply chelsea w June 28 at 7:37 am

    Thank you for writing this. I have a family member who, if I get a snack during the middle of the day says something along the lines of, “Wow–you are just always eating!” They say they are joking or that they are trying to help me lose weight, but they don’t understand it just puts me down. I try to keep a healthy lifestyle as much as I can, and the number of meals that I eat are at a healthy number. I listen to my body and so when I feel the need to eat, I eat if I feel I need the energy. So when someone comes along and says something like, “Gah–don’t you need to quit eating so much?” It really gets under my skin.
    I still remember when I was younger and was on a certain medicine that made me hungry ALL the time, and I was already gaining weight from another med, “friends” would comment on how my eating habits were leading to an unhealthy weight. Not only it is no one’s business what you eat, it’s no one’s business how much you weigh or what you do with your body–in my eyes. SORRY, this subject just really gets to me!
    chelsea w recently posted…What’s Your Poison?: Botox for MigrainesMy Profile

    • Reply kristine June 28 at 8:55 am

      I understand your passion Chelsea! It truly is amazing to me how people think it’s welcome to throw out artbitrary comments about another person’s apperance/food/body weight ect.

      These things cut so deeply, and cause painful effects that linger long after the offending individual has moved on to other concerns. Meanwhile,the object of their ‘callousness’ is left emotionally grasping for something to re-ground and ‘steady’ themselves after the shock of such an unexpected attack.

      These careless comments cause damage. People need to be concerned more with the huge honkin’ wooden plank in their own eye, and less with the speck of dust in other’s. Love to you today Chelsea!♥♥♥ Have a good one 🙂

  • Reply Cat aka TimeyWimeyGirl7 June 29 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this post. It’s so sad that people seem to have to find something to make them feel
    Superior to others.

    I recall an article that I ran across again on fb recently about a woman who was at a ball game. A “dietary-health”
    Coach(I believe or it was a fitness instructor) took it upon himself to not only take note of what a woman in front of him was eating but had the gall to take pictures and comment on fb with them asking why she was using an app that showed her caloric intake after having eaten so much. He commented on her weight on a derogatory manner also. Well it all got back to her. She had lost a huge amount of weight and had been able to go to a ball game and fit in the seats after years of not being able to. She had splurged that day but always kept track of what her intake was for the day and had less the next day. Not that it was ANY of his business. She wrote an open letter to him telling him that his opinion doesn’t matter but maybe he should learn to get off his soapbox for a while and ackowledge that he may not know everything and that he should never have attempted to shame her. Ultimately, he refused to even apologize. Apparently he must be missing something in his life that he can’t even ackowledge when he was completely out of line and wrong.

    Growing up, there wasn’t much I could control and I found myself controlling my food. I became anorexic and refused to eat if the scale in the nurses office was above 105. My mother & I had food wars. I was extremely strong willed but if I didn’t eat every single thing on my plate for dinner , it was served to me again at breakfast & so on &
    So on. It didn’t matter that I didn’t like it or that I didn’t want it. What mattered was she wanted me to eat it. Period. Well I swore I would never, ever do that with my kids. I wasn’t making anything different for dinner but if you don’t want it don’t eat it. Of course, no dinner didnmean no dessert when we had some. My middle son has reactive hypoglycemia so he really had to make sure that he balanced anything he eats that contains simple sugars(cakes, pies, candy) with a good protein based meal. If he didn’t , he paid for it with horrific migraines so it wasn’t too hard to get him to eat. Though he did live off of pb & j sandwiches for a few years , he survived. One summer my kids spent with my mom, on my first phone call after they got settled in my daughter was really upset because Grandma was making her eat all
    Her food and she gave it back to her for breakfast but she didn’t like it. I got my mom
    On the phone and very politely informed her that she was never to do that again. They would eat or not eat, they would be fine. She never did it again.

    Since becoming ill, my naturally high metabolism is gone. It started to slow around my 40th bday party. I went from 125 to 140 but that was ok. It was healthier. Then I got sick, my meds added another 50 and my sedentary lifestyle another 10. At my heaviest I was 215. I’m at 200 now. I’ve switched meds and I try to keep everything in moderation. Healthier snacks but I refuse to starve myself or even deny myself food I enjoy. So much had been taken with my illness. Unless there is a health reason to completely remove an item from my diet, I’d rather just eat it in moderation. I’m also blessed that my honey has never been like some men from my past. He just sees me as I am and who I am. Now he basically gets double the woman he started with ;).

    Again, thank you for writing this post! Once again , you are spot on 🙂

    • Reply kristine June 29 at 2:56 pm

      Thank you so much for this Cat! What a complete ‘ass’ this so-called ‘health coach’ is! You know, more and more, the meme I’ve seen that says, “You have no idea what someone is going through, so, just be nice”, makes sense. We really do know very little, and yet assume so much.
      Good for you standing up to your mom BTW for what’s right! That can be scary as we tend to ‘revert’ to younger dynamics when we get around those we grew up with. Really brave, and it will go a long way with your kids knowing their mom was willing to stick up for them in the face of an injustice.
      Congrats on your 15lb loss!! That is a huge accomplishment when you’re dealing with chronic illness! Lots of love to you Cat!! Fight on! 😉

  • Reply Genevieve July 2 at 10:52 pm

    Yes yes yes to all of this. I have been dealing with anorexia for 20 years and food shaming can mess with my head so much. Thank you!!!

    • Reply kristine July 2 at 11:11 pm

      Thank you so much Genevieve 🙂 I like your site very much, you’re an excellent writer! Isn’t it crazy, how as kids we rationalize certain thoughts and actions without knowing the places we would end up. Places where we never wanted to be. Boy, I’ve got a lot of those in my past. Thank you for sharing your story, if it just helps one person…you know? Have a wonderful weekend ♥

  • Reply Carly July 3 at 11:06 am

    “If you really believe you are ‘helping’ someone by acting as if what they choose to ingest is the equivalent of clubbing a baby seal for a new handbag, it may be possible the gravity of the issue has become disproportionate to reality.” – I love this so much! LOL but true. (And we could apply this sentiment to lots of current “issues” we see going on around us.) I don’t know if I’m a food shamer, but it’s something I’ve never considered before… I will defenitly not be one after reading this 🙂 Thanks!
    Carly recently posted…Healthy, Gluten Free Lunch ON THE ROAD – for less than 3$My Profile

    • Reply kristine July 3 at 4:19 pm

      HAHA! So true Carly!! (about other current issues)! Thank you so much 🙂

  • Reply lolobunny July 3 at 1:29 pm

    Love love love this! Being a short girl, sometimes I find people to expect me to eat like a bird. I like food and I find ways to eat what I like in moderation so I do not over-do it. It drives me crazy when I hear someone say “you must be really hungry!” I usually reply, “Yes, I am”. 😛
    lolobunny recently posted…#summerfitnesschallenge Day 2-Healthy breakfastMy Profile

  • Reply Deborah Davis July 4 at 7:41 pm

    This post really hits a nerve! I have suffered from the sting of negative comments, odd glances and questions about my healthy food choices so many times over the years when eating with family or friends. It is rude and very disturbing so that you for raising awareness of this destructive practice at the Healthy Happy Green Natural Party! I’m Pinning and sharing this!
    Deborah Davis recently posted…Look Good, Feel Good this Summer in Koru Eco-Friendly SwimwearMy Profile

    • Reply kristine July 4 at 11:55 pm

      Exactly Deborah! That door swings both ways, people get shamed for eating what is considered ‘not healthy’, as well as for ‘healthy’ choices! So crazy! Have a great week Deborah 🙂

  • Reply Nikki July 5 at 5:05 pm

    I agree totally. There are so many other things to worry about. Let this one go! It causes so much damage. Just let us eat for goodness sakes. I also hate that my MIL makes my kids eat everything on their plates. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like it or if they are full, they have to finish. In our home you eat until you are done. No blame. No shame. Everyone deserves a craving food once in a while and who am I to tell you that you don’t need that chocolate chip cookie or second helping of mashed potatoes. We can teach our children healthy ways to eat, but the shaming needs to go! No wonder we are a nation of food issues.
    Nikki recently posted…Tiger Lily! Stunning Shots.My Profile

    • Reply kristine July 5 at 10:36 pm

      Very true Nikki, in fact it is the ‘over controlling’ of the food that creates many of these eating disorders. Thank you, and have a wonderful week Nikki! 🙂

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