A few days ago, I was having morning coffee with friends. My left ear was listening to what my friends were saying, and my right ear was listening to the conversation of the people next to us, a man and a woman wearing bike uniforms - black Lycra shorts and colorful, ad-laden shirts.
The woman, eating a lunch of tuna and apple slices, spoke about people with different lifestyles:
"They don't exercise...they eat fast food...they're the worst people in the world."
Really, Ms. Tuna-and-Apple-Slices?
People who don't exercise and who eat fast food are the worst people in the world?
Worse than murderers, torturers, warmongers, thieves and rapists?
Changing of lifestyle to achieve better health is a worthy pursuit. Unfortunately, such changes often awaken the self-righteous beast inside. Without thinking, we can use our newfound enlightenment as a bludgeon against those who haven't seen the light.
Once upon a time, the only thought humans had about food was how to find it. Years and decades and centuries brought technological, scientific, and industrial progress. An exponential increase of knowledge and choices brings with it a similar increase in anxiety. Today, almost everyone knows how to find food. The big question is now what to eat.
Food choices are heavy with baggage - the war between health (which for most people equals slenderness) and taste. We want to eat tasty food, but we feel soooooo guilty when we do. Some of us feel more guilty about eating a cookie than making an unkind remark to someone's face. To take control of the health vs. taste issue, some of us latch onto rigid rules about eating (and living), which we then project onto the rest of the world.
"If you don't eat like me, you're a terrible person!"
Please. Chill out.
What other people eat is really none of your business. Just enjoy your tuna and apple slices and stop worrying about the rest of us. In the end, we can only be responsible for ourselves - and that's a difficult job as it is.