4 Reasons to Ditch Comparing Your Food Choices to Others' in 2017

Just imagine: it's a Friday night and you're having dinner out on the town with your favorite girlfriends. You haven't seen each other since the holidays and have tons to catch up on, so you barely look at the menu before ordering your usual dish: a cheeseburger with sweet potato fries. Only, your bestie says, "I'll have a salad, dressing on the side. Making up for all those Christmas cookies!"

Suddenly, your burger doesn't sound that good - and you don't feel that great about yourself either.

If this scenario sounds familiar, you aren't alone. The fact is, comparison seems to be in our blood. Various psychology experiments have found that when people see someone else with a possession, personality trait or wealth...they want it for themselves. One thing you should never compare? Your diet - the food, how often you eat and when you eat - with someone else's.

casey the college celiac

Not sure why? Here are four reasons why you should ditch comparing your food choices to others' - during New Year's resolution season and otherwise!

1. You don't know their medical chart or history.

Now if you have celiac disease or some of dietary restriction, you're probably used to fighting comparison to a certain extent. Even when you make your own "safe" pizza for movie night at home, your family's Papa Johns may still call your name. In fact, you may even be mistakenly praised for "having such restraint" by turning down cake at a birthday party - despite the fact that you're rejecting a double chocolate pastry to stay alive instead of skinny.

Even as someone whose diet is often compared to other "normal" Americans', though, I can still find myself wondering if someone else's diet is more "right" than mine. January always invites an army of dieters, from fad gluten free eaters to people jumping on the Whole 30 train. Sometimes I wonder, "Would doing the Whole 30 help me? I've been eating more processed foods and sugar lately..."

casey the college celiac
Like lots of these cookies...
But then I remember: my stomach is doing pretty dang awesome, my weight still needs a boost and, honestly, I love baking. So why should I force myself to follow an even stricter diet than I already need to do - just because everyone else is? 

The truth is, everyone's body is different. Everyone has different foods that agree with them and different medical histories. A diabetic won't eat the same diet as a celiac. Neither would a recovering anorexic, nor someone with a deadly peanut allergy

If 2017 is the age of anything, I hope it's the age of "you do you" when it comes to diet

2. Different eating times work for different people.

If you've ever read a health magazine or researched how to eat "healthily," you've probably heard the old cliche, "Don't eat anything after 8 o'clock." This myth claims that since you're the least active at night, that midnight snack will turn directly into a muffin top or extra fat

casey the college celiac
What a shocking concept!
You want to know a secret? Lately, I've been eating as late as 10 o'clock at night...and I haven't turned into Violet from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory yet! 

Some people thrive on eating five small meals spaced closer together. Others, like me, prefer three big meals with limited snacks. And others' diets change day to day...and all of this is A-OK. 

After all, we all get up and go to bed at different times. We have different jobs whose schedules often determine when we can take a food break. And we have different activity levels and times we enjoy breaking a sweat. Personally, I work out in the morning right after I get up - and I need the carbs I enjoyed the night before to fuel me through my fasted workout. 

casey the college celiac
Like lots of yoga!
When your eating schedule differs from others, eating can feel awkward at times. Sometimes, I feel self conscious munching away when the rest of my family already ate their last snack of the night. But there's nothing wrong with following the eating routine that works for your body. And if your night snack always ends the day on a deliciously sweet note? Well, that's just a bonus.

3. Taste preferences are just as individual as fingerprints.

The differences between my roommates' and my preferred foods never failed to crack me up. Hannah loves anything spicy and never fails to add Sriracha to her Mac n' cheese and soup. Sarah can live off of nut butter (especially white chocolate peanut butter), though she used to endlessly snack on tofu. And Meghan wouldn't be the same without her popcorn

None of our diets are better than the other (though I will say I consume more veggies than the average college bear). And it makes no sense to compare our dinner to someone else's when our cravings are entirely different. Sure, maybe you ordered a burger on Friday night while your friend got a salad. But would you really want to spend $12 on a bunch of lettuce when what you really wanted was a fluffy gluten free bun
Taste preferences also change - day to day and over longer periods of time. Some days, I may eat a paleo dinner like sweet potato salmon sliders. Other days, I may be craving my homemade vegan pizza. If you're going to compare your diet to anything, it should be to your past dietary habits...and even that can be an absurd practice if you've switched from one healthy diet to another.

4. Comparison will distract you from listening to what really matters: your own body.

When people hear that I eat gluten free (even when they don't know the reason), they often praise me for being "so healthy." Yet, I am just as vulnerable to culinary comparison as anyone else. I think that's one of the downfalls of being a perfectionist: even when we find a diet that works for us, we're still always looking for ways to improve

Add perfectionism with the influx of January dieting resolutions, and you have a recipe for disaster

But, this January, I have a different kind of food resolution. It's not to follow any "detox" or a strict diet plan. It's not even to change my weight (though a few added pounds would be appreciated in this freezing weather!). It's just to strip down eating to its roots: feeding my body what it calls for. 

casey the college celiac
More fuel for jumping into the New Year! ;)
That means eating when I'm hungry, not by the clock. Eating meat and plant based protein, not according to what I "should" enjoy but by what I'm craving. Most importantly, it means eating without shame or self-consciousness. Because who knows? I might need that burger just as much as you need those veggies. 

When January rolls into town, diet resolutions often tag along. While I'll always support people trying to transform their health - whether by losing weight, cutting out processed foods or adopting a new dietary lifestyle - their choices shouldn't negatively impact our own. 

After all, it's 2017. And, in my mind, there's no better resolution than an anti-resolution of owning our own body and food choices while ditching culinary comparison back in 2016. 

You are a complex, beautiful, strong, unique human being. Your diet should be just as individual...and just as free. 


*Also found at Saucy Saturdays, Creative Collection Party, Dare to Share, Inspiration Monday, Create Link Inspire!*

Do you ever feel self conscious about your eating preferences or times? Do you have a food-related New Year's resolution this year? Tell me your thoughts!


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