Saturday, 13 May 2017

Dietary Choices – And Un-Solicited Feedback

I recall a conversation with 7 month pregnant Abby. We were chatting about the things Baristas talk to customers about on an afternoon when I was the only customer at the counter.

I asked how she was coping with all the “gratuitous” advice that comes the way of all soon to be first time Mum’s and she smiled.

She said complete strangers seem empowered to come up and touch her tummy and to tell her how she is feeling, what she should be doing and the most horrific labour stories. She added, one complete stranger even asked her if the Father was standing by her, noting she was not wearing a wedding ring.

What makes us think we can do this, approach total strangers and offer advice?

I am all too regularly the recipient of dietary advice.

I tend to eat healthily. Low fat, low salt, low sugar. I have little red meat but do eat fish. I consume much fruit and vegetables, but no fruit juice or canned foods.

The high sugar content means I do not have breakfast cereals and my pasta and rice of choice are wholemeal and brown respectively.

I have next to no alcohol but do have coffee and tea – black no sugar.

I can place an order at a café or restaurant and have a total stranger say, “you need to have more than that”. On one infamous occasion, I ordered a salad roll, rejecting several attempts to have me add ham or chicken. Having had my order accepted, on three further occasions, a staff member came to our table to confirm and re-confirm I did not want meat in the roll. When served, it was placed in front of me with comment about needing more than that.

I can be selecting from a buffet lunch at a conference or event, and because the protein options are cold processed meats or warm options of fish drenched in butter or meat featuring fat, I select only the salads and vegetables. Strangers in the queue regularly pass critical non-approving comments on my selections.

I don’t feel inclined to pass comment on what might be on their plate, or empowered to do so.

If I see an obviously overweight person selecting their fried eggs, bacon, croissant, cream, white bread, butter and maple syrup at the breakfast buffet, it never crosses my mind to comment on the food choices or on their body shape.

I have piled my plate with fresh fruit and had a Lady scold me for being slim and instructing me to have something more.

Just what is it that makes others feel empowered to make such unsolicited comments arguably about what they no absolutely nothing about? Are they attempting to justify their own choices?

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