So You’re Eating Healthy. Stop Bragging About It

Parsley on a plate

This is a guest blog post by Sheah Rarback, RD

Providing unsolicited advice is usually a bad idea. If you are reading this column, come to me as a client or marry me, you get my advice.

I do not go to dinner parties and critique the dishes.

But there is a subset of people who feel compelled to share their opinion on what other people are eating.

Paleo / low-carbohydrate diets are trending. This style of eating is difficult to maintain, so if someone is low-carbing, assume they perceive a benefit. I hope they are getting enough of nutrients such as calcium found in dairy and fiber in whole grains to ensure a healthy intake. Most people I’ve counseled on low-carb are doing well. It is a personal choice that does not require uninvited opinion. And for the paleo people, if someone asks, share your opinions about grains, but if not, feel free to eat in silence.

In terms of whether to eat animal products, there is good evidence on both sides of the discussion. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell (Ben Bella Books, 2005), with more than a million copies sold, has dramatically impacted the conversation about the benefits of a vegetarian intake. The takeaway message is that people who eat a vegan diet avoid or reverse the development of many chronic diseases. Think vegan Bill Clinton after his bypass surgery.

A more inclusive intake, with volumes of research, is the Mediterranean diet with a base of beans, nuts, vegetables and fruit. Included in this plan are fish, yogurt, cheese, poultry and eggs. Even occasional red meat and sweets are deemed acceptable. For everything Mediterranean, go to oldwayspt.org. The issue of sustainability and ethics of food intake is complicated and for another column.

Chris Rock said it best: “Most people don’t realize this, but you can eat organic, all natural, gluten-free food without telling everyone around you.”

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian and on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Originally published in The Miami Herald

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  • sidekickk

    This…was not a well-written article.

    • Jake

      It had good content, though

  • Devon.nicoleman4

    Don’t really understand the purpose of this article… We’re allowed to be proud of ourselves for healthy eating.

    • Dani

      The article wasn’t well written but I do think it’s pretty obnoxious when people brag about what they eat (or anything else) and give unsolicited advice. If you’re at someone’s house don’t criticize what they made. It’s just rude.

      • Nicole Johnson

        Very true. But then what’s the most respectful way to respond if friends invite you over for dinner and prepare something you can’t eat? I’ve been in these situations plenty of times and it’s super awkward even to be honest because it implies their dietary choices are unfit. So so awkward.

        • Mehness

          Don’t go. Or offer to make the food yourself or bring your own. My cousin and I are on special diets and we have no choice but to bring our own food, even to family holidays. If it is a choice that someone doesn’t want to eat what was made they could have just as easily made the choice not to go or to offer to bring something so they know there is something they can eat. I think the main issue sometimes is that people don’t understand when it is their choice to eat a certain way they should know that isn’t everyone’s choice and they may have to decline some invitations. Nips it in the bud.

    • EVIL food scientist

      http://spp.sagepub.com/content/4/2/251

      Wholesome Foods and Wholesome Morals?
      Organic Foods Reduce Prosocial Behavior and Harshen Moral Judgments

      A peer reviewed journal published this paper basically stating that there is an extremely strong correlation between organic, whole food, slow food, (insert self righteous food phrase here) and being a pain in the ass jerk.

      Eat paleo/gluten free/nothing that casts a shadow level 7 Vegan if you want, but SHUT THE HELL UP when you are at my house for dinner.

      • DrakeScott

        The fact that the only comment citing actual, peer-reviewed research ranks a mere sixth in popularity tells me all I need to know about the readership of this blog.

  • timlockk

    Swing and a miss Sheah.

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    Haha, fun post

  • michelle

    Why wasn’t it well written? Straight to the point, no BS. Mind your own business unless asked. Agreed.

  • XS

    Chris rock is relevant to how people should act in public how?

    • benjamincgessel

      Oh, you know. Actors, comedians, pop stars, politicians, etc., they are entitled to be experts on everything… Or, more accurately, many people seem to listen to them when they speak their minds about just about anything… But something in Chris Rock’s favor-you can take what he says at face value.

  • Aria Gonzalez

    Fibre in whole grains is ever so important! How could we forget about that?!? You mean all the vegetables I’m eating aren’t enough? *sarcasm*

    I understand the point but this article has a serious focus problem. Also, calcium can be gained easily from bone broth, sardines and tinned salmon while fibre from whole grains is a myth that needs to die an ignoble death. ugh.

    • benjamincgessel

      Yeah, AMEN. Since I eat 2-3+ different kinds of veggies PER MEAL, or 2/3 of my plate, etc., yeah, I don’t need the fiber from grains, not to mention the additional fiber I get from nuts and fruit… Something about this article is quite outdated…

  • Confused

    I’m confused. The headline suggests this article is about not being obnoxious/vocal about dietary choices, but then the article itself seems mainly a platform to lob uniformed criticism at low-carb and Paleo diets, while touting vegan and Mediterranean diets. Weird.

  • DrakeScott

    She makes a valid point that – color me unsurprised – is completely lost on those who should take notice. There’s nothing wrong with making the choices you feel are right for you, but all too many people make healthy eating into a religion, complete with all the requisite proselytizing, moral absolutes, and self-righteous need to target “sinners.” Eat the best you can, but STFU about it already. All that hubris doesn’t make you special or especially smart. Just really, really, really annoying. News flash: Other people have already heard of organics, vegans, and Jesus without your intervention. They just don’t care. Let it go.

    • Logicandegg

      Not to mention they all sound like they have joined a cult.

  • Healthy Man

    Do not critique what your friends and family eat. It has to come from someone they feel is an “expert” {Doctor, Nutritionist, etc} http://www.healthyman.co

  • Eddie

    I would hope that this article isn’t sanctioned by FOODUCATE.

  • Ava

    When a “friend” on Facebook posts “this carnival sure isn’t paleo friendly” you know they are a pretentious $&@#. Maybe my first clue was the incessant cross-fit talk.

  • Jargon

    I don’t brag. I try to help others be aware. I don’t know everything and always appreciate some good advice when it comes to healthy eating. I do however know when to keep my mouth shut. This article just makes me angry.

  • aubreyeast

    rules of writing : 1_tell them what you’re going to tell them…2_then tell them…3_then tell them what you told him…I realize this is a little & cheek,,,but after 25 years in business and making speeches around the world and writing, this technique has been successfully Proven on the firing line

  • Jessica

    This writer needs to do her research and take into account food intolerances. Some people can’t eat whole grains. Their bodies don’t tolerate them. I don’t brag about eating gluten free, but sometimes you do have to tell people and ask questions to avoid getting sick. GF people aren’t trying to be obnoxious, just trying to not be sick! Personally, I feel bad when I have to make special requests at restaurants and get togethers.

  • Steve Reed

    Unfortunately, the China Study can be widely discredited, I am shocked that you use this as a source for your article. Giving mice cancer inducing drugs, and then feeding them casein as the sole protein source (a product that I think you’d agree that mice don’t usually eat as part of their micey diet).

    The study also failed to take into account many confounders, it’s a one sided observational study from a scientist who so obviously went into the research with the idea of proving a plant based diet was healthier (not a good position for a researcher to start from – an outcome in mind before the results are in).

    Not a good post, try getting some staff or posters who understand the research and can present it in a valid way

    You might want to look at this statistical analysis of the data carried out by someone who knew what they are doing

    http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/china-study-ii-wheat-flour-rice-and.html