Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Food Pharisees

I've seen that term a few times on different blogs, and, being accused of such (not with such creative words, though), have spent some time thinking on it.

And thinking on it almost always translates into blogging about it.

In case you're not sure: The phrase is usually used to describe a person who eats healthy (their version of it, anyway) as often as possible. It's usually used in blogs to say, "we're doing x, y, z, but we're not Food Pharisees or anything." Apparently this is said so that no one reading, who happens to NOT be doing x, y, or z will feel in any way judged or offended.

I think I'm finding a double-standard. I say think, because I'm open to other explanations that I may not be seeing here. Feel free to educate me.

But so far, the double-standard I see is this:

The phrase, indeed the judgment, is almost always applied to healthy-eaters exclusively. Usually fresh-food lovers, organic/local eaters.

I've never seen it used to describe anyone else.

Which is strange, to me.

WHY does someone adhere to 'healthy eating?' For myself, it's because I'm thoroughly convinced that to take the best care of myself (my temple) I need to be making conscious, careful decisions, in what I buy, how I cook, what I eat. I do it because I want to be a good steward of my body and it's health and strength. Because I have so many responsibilities which take so much of me. Because I have a husband and children who I want to be with for many more years. Because to accomplish what God has called me to, I must be at my best, and I think nutrition plays a huge part in that. Nutrition is doing my part.

Apparently that is offensive to some.

But take, for instance, another similar person.

They have a lot of weight to lose. They become convinced that they must lose the weight so as to be a good steward of their body. Because they want to 'be all they can be' in God, and the weight is hindering that. Because they have others that depend on them. Because they want to extend their healthy years... When this person starts Weight-Watchers, or goes on the Atkins' Diet, I don't see anyone terribly annoyed. When this person declines cake and ice cream at a birthday party, no one takes offense or assumes they're "too good" for what's offered.

Celiacs avoid gluten (i.e. a HUGE percentage of American food) for their health. No one feels judged when they bring gluten-free dishes to a potluck.

ADD/ADHD sufferers find some help in avoiding dyes and additives.

Autism shows positive responses with diets high in raw- and fermented-dairy products.

So what is it with the healthy/organic/natural adheree? Why do they enjoy special status? Is it because they don't usually lay their convictions at the feet of another (i.e. "Atkins' Diet, Feingold Diet, Vegetarianism, Kosher")? Is there some unnoticed compound in organic food that causes the eater to exude offense whithersoever she goest?

*I* don't feel offended if someone declines some freaky healthfood I might offer. I may tease them about it, acknowledging that it might not meet their beer-and-twinkies preference, but that it won't kill them either. Too, I think it's only appropriate to inform people about what's in something they might eat. I often write ingredients on a shared dish, or tell it's intended recipient what's in it. Perhaps that may come across as a criticism.

Have you heard the term "Food Pharisees?" Do you see it as a double standard, or are there other meanings I'm missing here?


annie said...

I haven't heard that phrase but I know the attitude. I get it sometimes from my mom, though lately that has subsided a smidge after I made it as clear as possible (and said it at every opportunity possible) that we do not judge anyone else, do not expect anyone else to "cater" to us, and will eat what is offered when at someone else's home or when invited out by someone. I've tried to put this into practice as often as I can by eating whatever my mom makes when I'm visiting or ordering things I know she likes when she invites me out to lunch, even though the food is usually something I wouldn't eat voluntarily and would not make in my own home. Also I have explained again and again that we are choosing to eat the way we are to avoid the myriad of health problems she and my dad and my in-laws have and avoid going to the doctor so much. She calls annual visits to four different doctors preventative care. I call eating healthy while all my parts are still working right preventative care.

Anyway, I think the reason for this attitude is because we are choosing to eat this way, insinuating we are making the better choice (we are!) and judging those who choose otherwise (we are not!). Celiacs, those with adhd, etc. are not necessarily choosing their dietary habits but are doing so for medical reasons. Even though the same could be said for the hippy dippy health nuts. It seems people find it unbelievable someone would want to turn down a twinkie, but less unbelievable if the rejection is prefaced with "...my doctor says so." Never mind the fact that they wouldn't actually have to go to the doctor to be told such a think if they rejected twinkies first.

My take on it, anyway.

I like the new header...what is that? Lavender? Lilac? I have no idea. Such delicate pretty things don't grow well here. Organique is beautiful! I love that face.

EllaJac said...

Forgive my weird spacing between paragrahs... Blogger did it.

So, if I say, "my doctor made me do it," I'm off the hook? Might try it...

Oh, that lovely purple bloom? Early spring weeds. They shortly turn to obnoxious little prickly things. So sad.

MamaJ said...

AH-HA! The wacky Blogger spacing strikes again!! Yes, if you said, "my doctor/nutritionist makes me eat these foods," I would not feel nearly as inadequate when I read about your latest healthy cooking plans! But, you don't need to do that, of course. I will just live vicariously through you for now! :-)