Judging eating habits cultivates a dangerous double standard

During recent years, Americans have become much more aware of their health. Health food stores are booming, weight loss tips are a top trend on Google and even infamous fast food chains are aiming to offer nutritious options. I applaud anyone who puts in the effort to eat healthy and exercise more, as it can often be an inconvenient and difficult task.

For the past couple of years, I’ve strived to eat healthy, exercise when I can and drink plenty of water. Though this lifestyle is difficult to maintain as a busy college student, dealing with the stereotypes glued to this lifestyle can be even more challenging.

Often when I go out to eat, I’ll order a glass of water with lemon, and an entree that best fits my needs. It could be salmon with veggies. Sometimes a specialty salad. Or a grilled chicken sandwich — wheat bread, hold the cheese, please! My friends will roll their eyes, my sister will laugh as I explain my complicated order to the waitress, and my boyfriend will encourage me to get what I “really want.” But this is what I want. Sure, my colorful salad probably isn’t as delicious as the gourmet cheeseburger and french fries would be, but that’s okay with me.

The choices that we make about our food should only involve us. If I want to avoid carbohydrates and dairy because they make me feel sluggish and sleepy, I should be able to do so without being made fun of. Don’t stereotype me as being “that girl who orders a salad and water” or “that girl who won’t eat in front of guys.” I want to be able to eat whatever I want, without justification. I love to eat nourishing food that will give me energy and put me in a better mood.

I’m not acting better than anyone, and I surely don’t care what foods anyone orders, healthy or not.

The same goes for losing weight. I began this healthier lifestyle with the intent to shed some pounds and to feel better. People should realize that it’s not a compliment when you tell me that I am fine the way that I am, and I don’t need to lose weight. While it’s intended as a friendly gesture, it’s not your business. I am not losing weight for you, so I don’t need your opinion. I am aiming to lose weight in a healthy way, for me. We all have our own images of our body, and we should be able to create whatever lifestyle best suits us. Of course continuously counting my daily macros, caloric intake and water supply can be extremely stressful. Not worrying about what I eat and how often I exercise would be much easier, but it’s not what I want. It takes hard work to maintain a healthy lifestyle especially as a college student, but it is the lifestyle that I enjoy.

Society needs to eliminate this double standard of healthy living. People are often looked down upon if all they consume is sugary drinks and fatty foods, but they’re also looked down upon if they form healthy lifestyles for themselves. People can’t win. So some simple advice to consider: stop caring about what society thinks about your health habits. Stop criticizing what the people around you are doing. If I want to be the girl that only eats salad, let me. If I want to lay in bed all day and only consume potato chips, let me. Be a vegetarian, be a couch potato, be a gym rat, eat like a caveman; be whatever makes you feel good.

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