Peer pressure and healthy eating: Have you been health bullied?

I eat really, really healthy about 80% of the time, and when I’m at work, it’s 100%. I don’t have much choice but to eat what I bring with me, because my dietary restrictions keep me from eating take-out or a quick sandwich from the cafeteria.

As I’ve mentioned a few times recently, I’m working really hard to lose some extra weight that has crept on and stayed on over the years. I’m focused on my intake and burn to ensure I’m keeping the right level of calorie deficit so that my body doesn’t freak out since I’m also training. This means I’m finding ways to eat things that are healthy, but make me happy, so I never feel deprived.

Some of my colleagues give me crap, always give me crap, because I eat healthy food. I can’t eat most dairy, so it limits a lot of options, so what I need up eating is healthier than what most people even think of as healthy food.

A pretty typical lunch
Last week, our market President stopped by my office while I was eating and said, while chuckling, “you eat disturbingly healthy”. I laughed and we chatted about work, but it made me think about how often someone comments on my healthy food. At least once a day. Think about that. Once a day I’m forced to stay strong and resist being pressured into eating something by being health bullied.

Healthy bullying: The act of aggressive commenting, harassing or embarrassing someone because they’re being healthy.

In a society that is filled with over-indulgence (my IG and FB feeds were filled with overly indulgent pictures all weekend), you’d think people would applaud someone who’s taken on a healthy way of life. Instead, too often, they are chided for being too healthy, not having fun, or not enjoying life.

I, for one, can tell you, in the last couple of weeks of being really focused on my diet and training, I’ve had almost no cravings, and am eating really delicious food.

Dinner Friday night was a tortilla pizza. Ah-Mazing.

I know part of it is that people which they had the focus, the means, or the time to eat healthy, and live healthy. But it doesn’t make it feel any less bad.

Imagine how hard it would be as an overweight child or teen who’s trying to be healthy instead of eating chips and pizza like everyone else. I often imagine how difficult this would be if I didn’t have the financial means to buy lots of fresh food, and take risks that something doesn’t work.

I’m not asking everyone to count their macros, or eat a minimum of 4 servings of spinach a day. But I am asking why must the world criticize those who are living a healthy lifestyle?

So stand strong against the health bullies, and keep eating that kale salad, or running your daily miles. If you’re doing what makes you happy, and healthy, no one can take that away from you. >

21 thoughts on “Peer pressure and healthy eating: Have you been health bullied?

  1. Pingback: Five Things Friday – March 28, 2014 | running on cabernet

  2. I feel like you went into my brain and then wrote what I was thinking. I’m reblogging this. I get ragged on constantly at work but honestly I think it’s bc half the time I make them feel self conscious about what they eat. In the end though it’s their decision if they want to eat bad.

      1. I get that a lot when I drink green smoothies around some of the high school students whom I mentor. For awhile I got sick of it and stopped bringing them to work, but then I found myself getting dehydrated and missing starting off the day with something healthy and delicious, so I’ve brought them back in force. Occasionally I’ll fight back without really realizing it. Our administrative assistant once brought in doughnuts for the entire office, and I responded with a pretty forceful “NO!” when she was encouraging me to eat one (mainly because I love doughnuts and I didn’t want my resistances to get worn down) I felt awful after that because I think it made her feel bad and she is a really well-meaning woman who was just trying to do something nice.

        I can’t wait until the day comes when it’s socially unacceptable to serve unhealthy food at parties and at work!

  3. kristenk

    People criticize it because they’re jealous! At least that’s why I used to criticize it years ago in college/high school. I used to get annoyed when my friends would order a salad and I would get a burger and fries. I didn’t know it then, but I was just jealous that I didn’t have that kind of self control or concern about my health. Now I try to have a good mix of healthy/indulgent foods, but I would never criticize or judge someone for eating healthier than me!

    1. I definitely remember times when I made bad decisions and ragged on others for their good decisons. I’m in a better place where I focus on improving myself and sharing my journey in hopes it inspires others.

  4. A bully is a bully. I wish people would sometimes just shut their trap. They don’t know your story, and I would rather be healthy than a sick, fat and grumpy, like I bet some of your work associates are.
    You could be a smart arse about it, with a really good comeback, but I have nothing for you there cause I’m not that type of person and I have a feeling you ain’t either.

  5. Oh, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Hopefully you’re happy with your current choices and don’t let people bother you anymore about your choices!

  6. Oh all the time I get that. I used to never get it when I worked for Fleet Feet because everyone there ate healthy – you were more likely to get a stare if you were eating like a muffin or something, but it’s so so annoying when people comment on what you’re eating as “weird” on the daily. Like get a life, I don’t comment on your food!

  7. What I find most interesting is why people care so much about others eating healthy. There definitely is a jealousy factor associated with the comments, especially in regards to your ability to have self control, which they are probably lacking. There should be greater concern about those who are significantly overweight or obese and are constantly shoving processed, greasy food into their mouths instead of for those who are trying to promote a healthy lifestyle.

    1. I find it weird too. At the same time, I remember thinking a guy I went to college with, who was a crazy runner (he ran 51 marathons in 50 days several years ago), was weird because he basically only ate lettuce and chicken. I’ve had my share of unhealthy meals (or decades) but I’m now old enough to realize it’s important to staying healthy.

  8. I had the same struggle as a vegetarian for 3 years. People would literally shove meat IN my face and laugh. I was teased at holiday dinners, lunch at school, and everywhere I went to eat with other people. I was completely happy with my choices, but at least once a day, OTHER people made me feel insecure. In the end, I couldn’t deal with the “veggie bullies” and quit. And I’m embarrassed that I did.

    Taking part in a culture where you can go days without eating a single piece of unprocessed food is nothing to brag about. You’re doing what’s best for you and if you’re happy, forget the haters! There’s a good chance it is jealousy talking anyway. 🙂

  9. This is interesting, I’ve never really thought much about it, but I agree, I think people are just expressing a frustration with themselves for not knowing how to eat healthy or how to stay on track with being healthy. As adults I think it’s a little easier to deal with, but like you said, for a child this would definitely be hard to deal with.

    1. It pains me to think about kids who already probably feel like they are being punished by changing what they eat, to also be made to feel different because they do. It takes a strong person to deal with it.

  10. I definitely am not nearly as diligent about my diet as you are, but I deal with the fitness aspect of this quite routinely. And imagine losing 15-ish lbs while you train for a marathon…the comments I got were kind of ridiculous. It’s hard to shrug it off sometimes and I wholeheartedly agree that it usually comes from a place or jealousy or desire to be healthy too.

    1. I can imagine people’s response. It clearly seems crazy to people who don’t run, or bike endurance distances. I try to connect to things they do, like golfing. I don’t understand why someone would go to a driving range and hit golfballs for hours. But I’ll run 10+ miles without the bat of an eye!

  11. I am constantly that girl in the neighborhood that “won’t eat that at a party” and I hate to be known as that. I try to live a life, but we’ve adopted a lifestyle, just like they have… just maybe a different sort of lifestyle. Stay strong Cyanne you’re doing great!

    1. Exactly! I don’t give them crap about the cheese & grease laden panini or Caesar wrap that is really just a cup of dressing with lettuce inside a tortilla.

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