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Don’t Put Me On a Pedestal

March 16, 2012

Well, Friday is here again thank goodness. I should probably stop saying that and focus on having the best day possible every day, but there’s just something special about the freedom of the weekend. I appreciate it all the more having previously worked in retail where the concept of a weekend was practically non-existent. This Friday is even sweeter because I have next week off work. I originally only booked Monday off to recover from Liverpool Half Marathon, but then I decided to go the whole hog. Peter and I are going away for a few days and the rest of the time will probably involve a lot of relaxing.

I’ve been re-reading Intuitive Eating over the past week or so. I originally read it last year and wrote a post on some of my thoughts. I saw it on my bookshelf a couple of weeks back and fancied giving myself a reminder of some of the concepts. I’ll probably write in some more detail about other aspects of the book at a later point, but a half page section in the book prompted me to think about my own situation.


IT Crowd–Jen thinks the word is “pedal stool”

Sorry, that clip of “The IT Crowd” was a bit of a humorous aside. The serious point is that I’ve been interested in health and nutrition to some extent for over 10 years now. In that period I’ve definitely had my ups and downs in terms of eating well and my weight, but I’ve maintained an interest in what I put in my mouth. Because I’m interested, I’ve done a lot of research and thinking about nutrition and I would like to think that I have an above-average knowledge.

I also demonstrate what is generally deemed to be “healthy eating” habits much of the time – I have salads for lunch, I snack on nuts and fruit, I don’t often put my hands in the communal biscuit barrel. My colleagues have noticed and now will sometimes ask me questions like “is X fattening?”, or “is Y bad for me?”, or when some cake or chocolates are passed round they say “Sarah won’t have any, she eats so healthily”. Well, the fact is that sometimes I do want some cake – you all know how much I like cake!

I’ve also noticed that my friends and family will sometimes put me on a pedestal as well. When my Mum and I went away together for a few days we had a conversation that went something like this:

Mum: “I’m going to eat cake while we’re away you know”

Me: “Urm … ok, why are you telling me now?”

Mum: “I just don’t want to feel guilty about it”

The last thing I want to do is to make people feel guilty about their food choices because guilt is such a horrible feeling and I don’t think that anyone should feel that way about food.

The main problem with being put on a food pedestal is that although it might feel good to start with, it’s a long way to fall down. In your mind it becomes even more vital to be “good” and not to “cheat” by eating foods that are perceived as being less healthy. Eventually that kind of thinking could actually lead to overeating of those foods as a kind of self-sabotage. Personally, I know my diet isn’t perfect, because there is no such thing!

I’m not blaming other people, I know that I’ve done my fair share to mark my eating out as different. I’ve been incredibly enthusiastic about my food choices at times and I enjoy discussing nutrition etc. with anyone who’ll listen. However, now I am conscious of reining it in a bit and making sure that people don’t think of me as anything special. I don’t actively engage in conversations about diet at work, especially as it’s usually a discussion about the latest fad diet. If I’m asked a question about nutrition I will give my honest opinion, but most of the time I’ll give a simple reply like “I don’t think any food is bad in moderation”, or “it’s only fattening if you eat a lot of it and don’t have a balanced diet”.

Essentially, I don’t find being seen as different very comfortable and I don’t think that it is particularly healthy for me in the long run.

Do you ever feel like you’re on a pedestal in terms of diet, fitness or health? Are you comfortable with that?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2012 6:04 pm

    I don’t think there’s any danger of me being put on a pedastal, except by a severely underweight person who needs to gain body fat in as short an amount of time as possible.

    I guess it’s good for me not to feel any pressure in that regard, but I can see how it could be really quite damaging, particularly in terms of not wanting to eat ‘bad’ food in front of anyone. Textbook trap for overeating in secret, leading to feelings of shame and inadequacy. People always want some ‘magic’ solution I suppose, so they scrutinize the diets and figures of others closely. I know I’m always wondering what the thin people at my gym eat, particularly the distance runners, but I’m not quite nosey enough to ask!

    I’m really enjoying your thoughtful posts – it’s great to hear your opinion on things and I think you present your ideas exceedingly well 🙂


  2. March 16, 2012 7:07 pm

    Thought provoking post! I do know what you mean, I think in some circles I’ve become defined by my weight loss and interest in healthy living but because I’m looking to pursue a career in that field it doesn’t bother me too much but its a lot of pressure sometimes! I just try and stay true to myself as much as possible. Hope you enjoy your week off and the half marathon!

  3. March 16, 2012 7:25 pm

    Good luck with your half marathon and have a great week off!

    I’m known at work for having weird diet tastes and always eating weird foods, and for the fact I always take a packed lunch! I don’t really mind too much, I don’t make a big deal out of it. But I definitely know what you mean. Amongst my friends whenever we go out there is always a pressure to pick a healthy meal etc, like we’re all trying to outdo each other and get skinnier. So strange and yet I probably succombe a lot of the time too!

  4. Errign permalink
    March 16, 2012 9:44 pm

    I don’t really think friends and family see me as super healthy, or if they do, they keep it to themselves. I think my parents recognize and comment on the fact that I eat pretty cleanly and mostly vegetarian, but other than that, it’s pretty normal. I think a pedestal regarding exercise wouldn’t bother me, but food would.

  5. March 16, 2012 9:45 pm

    urm sadly yes:( especially has lots of my friends know about my past with anorexia, and often ask me things about food. I also get the impression that even my boyfriend will ask if its okay to eat x and y in front of me. I

  6. March 17, 2012 1:26 am

    I would like to think that my eating habits and lifestyle are viewed as healthy and balanced. And if that’s the case, I would love for everybody in my life to eat the same way. I know too many girls that make themselves crazy with counting calories and I also know too many people who are obese. That’s no way to live.
    Best of luck on your half!

  7. March 17, 2012 12:14 pm

    I’ve had to stop talking about eating healthily or dieting because it annoys my parents – they think it’s an unhealthy preoccupation I have…

    I know because Tom knows about my past eating disorder style issues that he doesn’t like me to talk or think about it all too much but I do find it hard!

    And my flatmates know me as the strange vegetable girl because they eat meat, pizza and potatoes so we’re really different 😛

    I have to say I do tend to think of you as super healthy but in a good way! I’m always impressed by how well you eat and most of your meals are really balanced and healthy. But I know that you like a lovely tea room with marvelous cakes just as much as me 🙂

  8. March 17, 2012 12:49 pm

    I would not say its a bad thing at all, people you associate with regularly have seen over an extended period of time that you eat healthy and maintain an exercise regime and it shows in your physique and health; you lead by example consistently. Its just how you live so try not to associate pressure with it.
    Good luck with the half tomorrow, can’t wait to hear your report back 🙂

  9. March 17, 2012 2:52 pm

    Great point, Sarah. I do think I put myself on a food pedestal and get very upset with myself when I fall off. I need to be more flexible and more respectful of myself regarding what I’ve accomplished. Many times I’m my own worst enemy.

  10. March 17, 2012 5:25 pm

    Enjoy your week off 🙂 And good luck tomorrow!! 🙂
    I think because I have been vegetarian for so long, a lot of people think I am automatically healthier for being vegetarian. Plus I avoid the staffroom chocolates/ biscuits for the most part, and I have “funny” ingredients like quinoa for my lunch, and everyone at work knows how much I love running and exercise, so I have a bit of a reputation for being healthy. Some people ask me questions, but I would not lend my opinion (unless asked) because I think everyone is different. Some people would say “oh I am trying to be good” and have a cup a soup for lunch, and then “low fat” cereal bar. To me, that does not seem that healthy, but it is all relative- I am not there to judge them because I don’t know what they have for breakfast/ dinner etc. One of my work colleagues likes to berate people for what they eat (eg she has a go at people who have a can of diet coke at lunch) and she is frustrated by me when I do not join in with her nagging. But it’s not my place!
    They also know I like balance because I do a lot of baking too! And a good tea room!

  11. March 17, 2012 8:44 pm

    I completely agree with the thing about no food being fattening in moderation… I hate the word “fattening” because nothing is on its own!
    I like discussing nutrition too, with anyone who’ll listen but try not to go on about it otherwise, again because I don’t want anyone to feel awkward. In some respects, being diagnosed coeliac at the same time, roughly, as I began to get more interested in healthy eating meant I’ve never had to “justify” food choices to people; they know I have to eat differently anyway.
    Good luck tomorrow and have a brilliant week off!

  12. beautyinthebalance permalink
    March 19, 2012 10:00 am

    I agree that as a (mostly) “healthy eater” or a person who enjoys exercise it is very easy to be put into a pigeonhole by friends and colleagues. I have found, however, that for every person who looks up to me as being “healthy”, there are 3 people who disprove of my healthy lifestyle and love for running because it makes them feel like they’re not good enough…
    I’ve got to remind myself though, that it’s their battle, not mine. I don’t push my healthy ideals onto them! And yes, I would like a slice of that chocolate cake!

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