Ever get the feeling that how people choose to eat is a huge cause of division between women? Why is it that healthy eating causes division… and what can we do about it?
Guest Post by Kimberly Harris of The Nourishing Gourmet
Ever gotten a snobby look when you mentioned your child had a food intolerance, or felt the glare when you whipped out an “unhealthy” snack for your child during a play date? I never imagined that our food choices could cause so much division and drama, but they do.
Once upon a time, I had a great idea. I liked creating recipes, and so I thought it would be fun to start a food blog (find it at The Nourishing Gourmet). That idea proved to be not only fun, but meaningful as it helped me meet other food bloggers and readers who ate like I do. It also complicated my life, because I realized too late that how people choose to eat is a huge cause of division between women.
After one too many uncomfortable situations regarding food choices, and others reactions to those choices, I began to think about why it was such a hot topic. While certainly not comprehensive, this is what I’ve concluded.
Food choices cause division because we aren’t secure in our choices
The friends I see on a regular basis know that I respect their decisions on how they eat, and love them right where they are at, just like they love me right where I am at. For example, they may know that I don’t eat a lot of sugar, but that I am happy to pull out some sugar for their coffee for them. They also know that I don’t keep soda pop in stock, so don’t bother asking for it at my house.
We got to that place because we are secure in our own decisions in what works well for us, and we know we aren’t at war with each other.
However, when we are insecure in our decisions, we can tend to lash out at others living different lives than us. Their different choices make us feel even more insecure. The fact is, if we aren’t comfortable with our own decisions, we aren’t confident enough to allow others to make different choices.
Elevating food decisions
Once I met up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a long time. It became clear that while she hadn’t actually read my blog much, she knew that I tried to eat a healthy diet. I sat through an awkward lecture of why “she didn’t eat that way.” Point by point, she elevated her food choices and put my choices down.
I was hurt at first. I wondered if I had said something to her that made her feel judged or had somehow brought this on myself. But no, I realized we hadn’t talked in a long time, and she hadn’t even bothered to read what I wrote online. The very fact that she knew I choose to eat a “healthy diet” had brought on this monologue.
I felt hurt, but then I realized that behind that conversation was insecurity on my friend’s side. She was worried that I would judge her, so she was rushing to explain and justify her decisions. And, as I replayed the conversation in my head, I realized that beneath her worry, she felt guilty over her decisions.
This wasn’t about the merits of one type of eating over another. It was about how we view not only others, but ourselves.
We need grace for ourselves
If we want to end the war between women, and if we want to give grace to others, we first need to give grace to ourselves. One of the things I try to share consistently on my blog is my philosophy of doing my best with what I’ve got (and then leaving the results to God).
Mommy guilt is a very real issue for many of us that can be made worse when we start talking about the “importance of a healthy diet.” I do believe in the importance of a healthy diet. I do. But I also know that we are just simple humans with limitations.
We have limitations of resources, time, money, and energy, for example. We may wish that we could do many things for our children that we simply can’t. And that guilt can eat away at us.
Image by Pixabay
The first thing we need to do to stop divisions is having grace for ourselves. We are human. We have limitations. We make mistakes. Our lives aren’t perfect. Sometimes we aren’t sure whether we are making the right decisions, even though we’ve tried to think through it well. When you throw us into the company of someone else who seems to have it together (even in one area), we feel even worse.
Grace. We aren’t demi-gods or super-humans. We can only do our best, based on the resources we have. We need to give grace to ourselves; otherwise we will walk through life insecure and always wondering why we can’t measure up.
We need grace. But to do that takes a measure of humility. We have to die to our sense of pride in wanting to seem like the super-human mom who has it all together, who “does it the right way.” We have to show each other our weaknesses and not just our strengths.
This is part of the reason I have chosen to be more vocal about my ongoing health issues, and why I’ve written to those suffering undiagnosed health problem. I want people to understand that my life isn’t perfect – just like their lives.
We need grace for other people
We need grace for ourselves, and humility, so that we can then turn around and give grace to other people. Yes, Susan may be very annoying in preaching about her new diet (that she’s probably just going to drop after three months). Yes, Katie really may be ill-advised to let her toddler eat so much candy and sweets.
Yes, we are human, and we have problems. We can be petty, judgmental, insecure wrecks at time. But we need each other, and the glue that keeps us together and relationships secure is love. A love that is willing to overlook the faults of others. I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I am saying that giving love and grace to each other is always worth it.
Yes, healthy relationships need boundaries and a love that is willing to be quiet sometimes, but also to speak up at times. A parent with a child with allergies may need to make strict boundaries with a family member who carelessly feeds said child unsafe foods. Sometimes uncomfortable conversations happen, and sometimes others aren’t ready for healthy relationships.
But for most relationships, having grace for ourselves, humility of heart, and love for others will go a long, long way in maintaining relationships even when you make different decisions for yourself and your family.
Have you experienced the way healthy eating causes division? How do you show practical love to those who eat differently than you do?
Kimberly Harris loves good food, but with a husband in school and three kids, her family also lives a frugal life. She loves sharing how she makes beautiful food simply, frugally, and nutritionally at home. Because of her own health issues, and wanting the best for her family, she also shares her research and resources on a variety of health related topics at TheNourishingGourmet.com. She wrote the cookbooks, Ladled: Nourishing Soups for all Seasons, and Fresh: Nourishing Salads for all Seasons, to share this love of healthy, simple, beautiful food.