Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Food Habits

As a dietitian I quickly learned that people do not want to be judged on what they eat; they already know that candy bars are not ‘healthy’ snack choices.  Dietitians are around to help people learn what a better choice might be and how they can still fit that occasional Snicker’s Bar into their new healthy eating plan.  It’s a form of 'don’t ask, don’t tell;' minus the religious and political controversies.  If you do not ask me how to eat, I will not tell you how to eat.  If you sit down next to me and my salad with your French fries and cookie-dough blizzard, I promise not to judge.  Some days I need a little ice-cream in my diet too.  Food habits are extremely personal and deeply engrained into our lives.  They start when we are born and are influenced by many different factors including but not limited to: religion, social/economic status, family, friends, education, transportation, food availability, season of the year, and disease or medical conditions... the list goes on.

I find it interesting how many nutrition savvy people like to push their food beliefs on other people.  I was scolded the other day for eating baby carrots, and told that I really ought to know better, and that I should just buy the big ones on the weekend to peel and chop up.  For a minute I forgot which one of us was the dietitian.  I explained that I already cook enough on the weekends as it is, and that peeling carrots was about the last thing I wanted to add to my to-do list.  By the way; there is nothing wrong with eating pre-cut baby carrots.

The past couple weeks I've had a few of my new co-workers ask me questions about food/diets. I think my favorite came this week when I was asked if it was true that people should never drink cold liquids, nor should we drink any liquids 20 minutes after eating; apparently it will cause the food in your stomach to gelatinize or solidify.  What?!!  I explained that this is not how the body works and that food in the stomach is digested by stomach acid and enzymes.  However, if not drinking liquids with their meals works for them, and no harm is coming from it, why not...  But lets make sure our science is right and that we are not spreading false information.

It's also amazing how people will eat certain foods even though they hate them, just because they have heard that it is good for them.  I had a woman thank me when I told her she no longer had to eat yogurt everyday (she hated the texture).  Food should be enjoyable. If after several tries you still dislike something, don't eat it.  Of course, this does mean you actually have to try foods and not just assume you do not like them.

Contrary to what some people might have us believe, there is no one diet that is right for everyone, people are different and so are their eating habits.  Until you find out why they eat the way they do, or have solid scientific proof to back up your statements, you probably have no business giving them advice.  


  1. The "Splendid Table" on NPR this weekend had a caller who shared that she is trying foods which she didn't like a a child. She wanted to see if her palate had changed. She was to her most detested food - the tomato. Her memory of it was the slimy slice found on sandwiches. The host of "Splendid Table" recommended that she start with small round tomatoes or grape tomatoes. They pack a punch of flavor!

  2. Grape tomatoes are some of my favorite! Mealy tomatoes at restaurants are gross.