The silliness of judging somebody’s health habits

Eagle. American flag. Freedom.

Live your life. It’s a free goddamn country.

I sort of have a reputation among some people as being a health nut.

I’m not, really. I eat processed foods with some regularity, and a decent portion of my daily caloric intake comes from pork rinds (they go well with everything!). While I am naturally very athletic, I worked out only sporadically until quite recently. My posture is crap.

But I do have some healthy lifestyle habits kind of rare for a 25-year-old. I get 6-8 hours of sleep every night. I only drink alcohol, like, once a year, and then decide I never want to do that again. I don’t smoke. I eat a ton of broccoli. I take my vitamins.

So I like to laugh when other people judge people on their lifestyle choices. (I guess I do judge people on their judgmental, er, ness. Whether that makes me a hypocrite or brilliantly meta is up to you.)

I love when health nuts, usually following some tightly prescriptive diet, can’t communicate a thought on the Internet without inserting a bunch of healthy buzzwords, and proselytizing about the virtues of “clean eating” or “colonic irrigation” or whatever. I love when people complain about the “obesity crisis,” about the habits of other people.

I think to myself, “I guess you never drink any alcohol then.” And then I chuckle self-righteously. (I can be a little obnoxious, okay?)

People love to get on their high horses about health. But “health” not only means different things to different people, but is a mark of privilege. Able-bodied privilege. Class privilege — access to diverse and high quality foods, the safety of being able to jog in your own neighborhood, and, of course, access to healthcare.

Not only that, but there is no one monolithic healthy lifestyle. Health freaks frequently advocate their lifestyles as The One True Way®, which is kind of stupid because I know really healthy vegans and really healthy paleo people. In a death match, I don’t know who would win (okay, probably the paleo people because the vegans would have an issue with killing to begin with — that was a poorly thought-out hypothetical).

What I’m saying is, the grains aren’t killing the vegans, contrary to what the paleos think. The meat isn’t killing the paleos, contrary to what the vegans think. (NOTE: I know plenty of vegans and paleos who don’t proselytize — I’m talking about the zealots here.) 

What really pisses me off about everyone who shares some article about how eating a donut is going to murder you forever is that for someone recovering from an eating disorder, eating a donut might be a giant goddamn victory in their health. Eating a donut without guilt, without trepidation — just savoring the goddamn food you’re putting in your mouth — that’s a really big step forward in your mental health if you’ve never done that before. Think about these things, people!

And the other thing that pisses me off is just the self-righteousness of it all. Okay, you found a thing that made you healthier. Good for you. Here’s a cookie (or a steak, or kale, or whatever token best fits your lifestyle). Get off everyone else’s ass. I never cease to be amazed by people who are convinced everyone else in the world should live like they do.

I was forced into a strict lifestyle by my ovaries. Were it up to me, I’d close every night with a glass or two of red wine and a heaping bowl of ice cream. Maybe a long drag of a Black & Mild (wood-tipped wine, of course). In college, I developed a deep fondness for the crisp flavor of gin. Burritos are my favorite food, and I used to stuff them with tons of cheese, beans, meat, whatever I could fit in that tortilla. (Cilantro. Tons of cilantro.)

I miss those days, but being able to ovulate and keep my skin on are worth the sacrifices. For me, a strict lifestyle isn’t about being virtuous — it’s about not getting endometrial hyperplasia and cancer, not getting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, not clogging my arteries due to my easy susceptibility to hypertriglyceridemia.

So if you’re ever around me, feel free to wash down your loaded nachos with a delicious craft brew, then chase both with a few handfuls of M&Ms. It’s your right as an American. Eat whatever the fuck you want. I, for one, will envy — but not judge.