Food police I’ve observed in the not-so-distant past:
-The instructor of my strength training class (who’s also a personal trainer and leads a “body transformation” group), talking to one of the other members of the class while we were waiting for the Jazzercise class to clear out. She was talking about how sometimes she’d be tempted to buy sweets, etc. when out shopping, but her worries about what her students/clients would think kept her from buying anything unhealthy. The creepy thing was that she then went on to talk about how she liked to look at what other people were buying. She said she could tell when people are not eating healthy by looking at them. She said she could tell by their skin; I don’t remember if she mentioned fat as well. I was thinking “confirmation bias!” the whole time. “Yeah, I can look at their cart and see junk food and then look at them and subjectively decide that their skin doesn’t quite glow. I can totally tell!”
-I wanted to make oatmeal cookies for a bake sale. (If I’d had time, I would have made something more fancy, but I didn’t want to stay up late baking.) I used this recipe. I thought that the texture was a little off–the outsides seemed overly crispy for that type of cookie–and I was pretty sure it was because they had too much butter. (Why would you load up an oatmeal cookie with butter? Maybe for the same reason you’d make a cupcake with frosting piled so high that you can’t bite through the whole thing. Seriously, go read that link. Maybe not exactly the same thought process, but I wonder if there’s a bit of, “I’m eating a cookie so I’m already eating something unhealthy, might as well take the opportunity to load it up with butter, because I can ‘get away’ with it!”)
So I took a quick look through the comments to see if anyone else had the same thought. I got tired of looking after reading a bunch of “this looks good, I will try this soon” comments, and then getting to a Food Police comment (#29): “I like your site since it has good recipes for trying once in a while. However, I often wonder about your health. It looks like you consume too much butter, sugar and other unhealthy stuff. I hope you cook more healthy food and blog about them as well. I do not mean to offend you, am just concerned.”
This might be more accurate: “I do not mean to offend you, I just want that sweet hit of righteousness that comes with enforcing social norms.”
-So after I made these cookies, I took them to City Hall, where the bake sale was taking place during Town Meeting Day. As we were leaving, we were walking behind a Baby-Boomer-aged couple. Neither of them were super-fit looking. The man was doing most of the talking. If I had to guess his BMI, I’d say it was around 27. He may have been in the middle of a weight loss attempt. His comments were something along the lines of, “They’re trying to get us to be healthy, but they’re having a bake sale! They think because it’s for charity that that’s an excuse, but it’s not an excuse.”
Dude, you don’t need an excuse to eat anything. You’re an adult, you get to decide what you put in your mouth.
The charity was to replace the filter on the city pool. What’s more physically healthy (without even getting into mental health or happiness), people eating some baked goods that may just be replacing store-bought baked goods anyway, and a bunch of kids having fun physical activity in the pool? Or, optimistically, getting rid of an extra thousand calories, but also getting rid of a convenient and fun source of activity because you can’t use the pool?
(Public service announcement: Be careful playing in that pool, kids! Watch out, responsible adults! Drowning doesn’t look like drowning!)