I once planned a lunch for an international school that my school was hosting for the week, and trying very hard to impress. The group had never been to Texas before, so I ordered fajitas from a local Austin Tex Mex joint known to have fantastic food. As we were going through the line, one of my coworkers (loudly) declared that she would not be eating a tortilla with her fajitas as they did not “make their own in house and used preservatives, which are bad for you.”
I already had the tortilla on my plate as this point, and was engaged in loading it up with all the goodies it could hold. I hoped I was at least setting a good example for the other 70 guests in line on how to properly eat a fajita. Event planner goes down with the ship, right?
As I sat there, fuming, eating my delicious fajitas with a tortilla thank you very much, I started pondering what in the world would cause someone to critique free food, and came up with this theory:
Well, first of all, when you really care about something, you talk about it a lot. And when you start reading things on the internet about how everything we breath in and eat and touch is slowly (or maybe not so slowly) killing us, it can feel like we live in a minefield and it is your responsibility to inform the world because you care! You care so much! About everyone’s well being! And that somehow gets twisted into general snobbery even though you mean so very well, and you just want what’s best for everyone, you know? I know. I am not immune to being snobby about healthy things.
Case in point: I love apple cider vinegar. I started drinking it about four years ago because I read that it could help with digestive issues. It does. I had this pair of blue pants I wore to work about once a week, that I would have to unbutton after about 3 pm because my stomach would bloat. The first morning I drank apple cider vinegar with my breakfast, no bloat. Pants buttoned all day. Miracle drink alert!!! I proceeded to tell everyone. My roommates, my friends, my parents. Other people tried it (and complained to me about it, it tastes AWFUL), some had similar results, some said it did nothing. I did not believe the people who said it did nothing. Didn’t you hear the part about the pants and the button? Or science for that matter?? SCIENCE SAYS ITS HELPFUL, DON’T YOU GET IT? SCIENCE. I thought people were just being wimps- not using it consistently, buying the wrong kind, whatever.
Then, I started to see maybe I was wrong in my thinking.
I am not a runner. Most likely, I will never be a runner. But, I have a lot of runner friends. And I think, good for them! And I think, some of them feel the same way about me, as a non runner. And some of them do not. And while I politely turn down offer after offer to participate in half marathons, 5k’s, and running dates, it gets old.
I have reasons for not being a runner, and they range from ‘I don’t want to’ to ‘I actually think running is really hard on your body, and my body doesn’t do well with it, I would rather do a different kind of exercise,’ which I offer up at the appropriate time depending on the level of pushiness from the person. Most of the time, I just say ‘no thank you’ and leave it at that. For my friends who love running, who feel like it keeps them sane, gives them time to think, lowers their stress levels, and just generally increases their health, I think that is so wonderful! But, it’s not for me. Sorry.
I think part of why running is not for me (except chased, of course) is that I know my body. And I assume that you too know your body. And some things just don’t work for your body in the way that they work for other people’s bodies. So now, when people talk to me about their digestive issues, and I recommend apple cider vinegar, I include the caveat, ‘but it doesn’t work for everyone.’ Which I believe! Why? Because we all have different bodies!
Being healthy is about finding what works best for your body and doing that. And I don’t mean smoking cigarettes and eating cookies for breakfast, I’m talking about the stuff that we know is good for us- getting good sleep, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, eating right.
We all have different food sensitivities and allergies and intolerances and deficiencies, and part of being our human selves is figuring out what these things are so that so we can avoid them, correct them, and replenish them. The goal is to be the healthiest version of you, not the healthiest version of Gwenyth Paltrow. Not ‘I hear paleo is the healthiest way to eat’, but ‘paleo really works for me and my body.’ And if doesn’t work for your body, that’s ok! Try something else. Pay attention to your body, what it likes, what it doesn’t. Research, record symptoms, try different things– aim to be the healthiest that only you in your unique, God given body, can be.
And please, for the love, do not shame people into being healthier. Taking charge of your health should be EMPOWERING, not EMBARRASSING. How glorious is it that we get to have bodies and walk (or run!) around on this great earth?
So, next time you skip that processed, lard filled tortilla on your way through the buffet line, you give yourself a silent pat on the back for doing what you feel is best for your body. And if you decide to eat that processed, lard filled tortilla, pile it high with all the cheese and meat and toppings you want, and praise God that your body allows you to chew and swallow and savor absolutely life changing things like authentic Austin Tex Mex.