I used to be one of those people who partook in food shaming, with statements like…

Pasta? No thanks. Too many carbs.
Donuts? No thanks. Too much sugar.
Cheesecake? No thanks. Too much fat.

You get the picture.

Lucky for me, my wonderful husband (boyfriend at the time), amazing group of friends, and loving parents helped me realize that these so called “bad” foods were not the issue, my attitude towards them was. Also lucky for me, social media wasn’t as huge then as it is now.

Because I was (very intimately) familiar with food shaming in the past, I think I am that much more sensitive to it now. And I was reminded of old ways while scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds recently. During this particular scroll through, I saw not one but two different people posting about how dinner was a small bowl of raw veggies [inset stupid smiley face]. One of the pictures even included a description of how this was a dressing-free bowl because dressing has fat. The next day I came across a picture of donuts with ridiculous hash tags, including #fat, #carbs, #donteat, #gross, etc.

So, here’s the thing. The pictures bothered me…a lot. But not as much as the fact that each picture had 10 plus likes and quite a few reinforcing comments.

Social media is a double edged sword. So much good has come from it. So many lives have been changed for the better because of it. But on the flip side, lots of people use Facebook and other social media tools (blogs included) to promote things like food shaming and then receive praise for doing so. This drives me up the wall. And it isn’t limited to “bad” foods either. I see plenty of “good” food shaming too.

Look, my diet isn’t perfect. And I am not a nutritionist or food expert. But I do know that for every like and/or positive comment food shamers get, they see food as the enemy that much more. How do I know this? Because I can put myself in the “bad” food shamers shoes all too easily. Even though it’s been years since I’ve actively food shamed, I still remember how I felt when a coworker praised me for eating “good” foods or when someone agreed that cheesecake did in fact have too much fat.

I’m honestly not sure how to convey the message that the fat in salad dressing helps the body absorb the nutrients from the vegetables. And that a donut every now and then isn’t going to do much damage. I want to reach into my computer screen and shake these people (including the likers and commenters), telling them that food isn’t the enemy, their attitude about it is. I want to help them the way my friends and family helped me.

Until I figure out how to help, I know what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to like their pictures and leave supportive comments. That’s the least we can all do.

What are your thoughts on food shaming and social media?  Does it frustrate you?  Do you do anything about it?

By Parita

10 thoughts on “Food Shaming and Social Media”
  1. I’ve noticed a lot of this too, and what I’ve found is that it’s starting to go both ways. Some people will hate on “junk” food, while others will hate on healthy foods with comments like “Oh, you’re eating a salad? I could never be satisfied with that,” or “there must be something wrong with you.” I used to give people a hard time for their food choices, but that was when I was really struggling with disordered thoughts of my own. These days, I couldn’t care less about what other people eat. Sure, I don’t agree with a lot of it, but a person’s diet is their own business and they’re allowed to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them — I know I did.

    1. Did you happen to talk to Vishnu today?! He said the same thing to me – “who cares?”

      I don’t disagree with you guys. I think everyone should be allowed to make his or her own choices about food and learn from them. Every body is different. I guess I’m just sensitive to people shaming food since it was a big part of my past. I know what a difference it made to have people question my thoughts and behaviors instead of having both be continually reinforced through social media.

  2. Parita! I just got an email saying you commented on my blog as I’m commenting on yours 🙂 I LOVE this post so much mainly because I have found myself seriously frustrated with the images some people project on social media. I know in many ways I just need to let it go and move on, but I can;t help but want to whack some people over their head when all they post are pictures of steamed veggies, chicken and sweet potatoes every single day. Mostly because I get bored but also because I like to promote the message that everything is great in moderation. I stopped posting pictures of my daily eats because there’s no need for me to put people to sleep, but if I have a great meal out or a recipe for the blog I tend to post those and I’d like to believe there is some variety in those posts.

    1. Great minds!

      And maybe I didn’t articulate my thoughts the way I wanted to, but I have no problem with people posting pictures of the same foods every day if they want (although I do agree that moderation is the spice of life!). What I do have a problem with is people (posters, commenters, likers) propogating the myth that fat is bad, carbs are bad, etc. I fell prey to that for so long and am so glad there were people in my life that were smarter than me. Having been through this myself, I really do believe that food is not the issue, the way we look at it/think about it is (this is where social media comes into play) – both the good stuff and the not so good stuff. To each his/her own, but I still get annoyed!!

  3. this is a very interesting post and like you said, it could go both ways..i was scared of fats, sugar, carbs etc couple years back too but i have come a long way to accept its okay in moderation and how to make better choices for myself everyday, or at least on most days..unless someone comes to me for professional advice, i really dont care (although I cringe inside).

  4. Hey Parita,

    I totally agree with you. This is an issue dear to my heart as well. It’s so confusing for people to find factual information about food, like fat and sugar and carbs, etc. It drives me crazy when people just repeat what they think is correct information, when they just heard it on tv or read it in a magazine. What helps me not to get upset is to think that they’re not trying to be ignorant, they are really victims of the media trying to promote their products or diet tools, or whatever food is currently the fad. For me, I try to respond to it in a way that makes people question their attitudes toward food. Like, what happens to carbs in your body, why is it bad to eat them? Did you know your body needs to consume fat? People usually have no idea how to respond since they’re just repeating what the media tells them to say. In this day and age, anyone on the internet can unfortunately give nutrition advice; teaching people how to weed through the bad content is hard. 🙁 But posts like this give me hope that not everyone falls for stupid nutrition myths! Great post, have a great day at work 🙂

  5. People just like to hear (see?) themselves talk. This is where it’s so important to have your OWN opinion and know that diet is personal. Every body is different and has different needs, whether than means green juice or pop-tarts, it’s no one’s business but your own.

  6. I DO feel like social media has gotten a little… judge-y. But luckily I feel like most of the people I’m connected with are pretty “to each his own” in terms of attitude, which is awesome! I think people need to eat whatever makes them feel good! Some people can handle a little extra in the sweets department. Some people really ARE Satisfied with a salad. I think everyone should feel comfortable to eat whatever their body needs!

    p.s. I owe you an e-mail!

  7. Great post buddy- so so true. It really is a double edged sword and like you, I used to be one of the shamers. I’m glad the ‘fat’ movement is slowly fading away, but at the same time, it compromises the new fat of cutting carbs…there’s just no happy medium. I despise seeing some of those things in instagram. One time I saw this picture of 2 carrots and the caption was something along the lines of ‘my high carb day…’

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