Judging People Based on their Food Choices

We’ve all done it. Formed opinions about someone based on the food choices they’ve made.

It’s often an innocent act. No harm done.

The thought process could be:

  • “Oh you are one of those healthy people who eats kale”
  • “She’s one of those people who can afford to shop at Whole Foods”
  • “He doesn’t even care about himself, he eats fast food everyday”
  • “Eww gross, did you notice what she was eating”

Usually these are innocent thoughts or light conversation topics. Nothing more.

But here’s why we shouldn’t judge people people based on the food choices they make.

The factors behind food choices, from what one decides to order at a restaurant to where someone decides to do their weekly grocery shopping, have often been deeply ingrained through people’s attitudes, cultures, and upbringing.

You probably don’t understand these underlying factors, so you are in no position to start judging that person.

Some people might feel very strongly about why they have made a specific food choice. For example, someone might have a very strong stance on animal welfare therefore is committed to not eating meat. On the other hand, other decisions around food are made based more out of convenience and habit. For example, eating at a nearby cafe because it is within walking distance, or eating the same meal because it is the only recipe you know how to make.

Judging people based on their food choices can have negative consequences on both you and the person you are judging. The impacts on you is that you are forming an opinion about someone without all the facts, which means that you have formed a false view of the person. The impact on the person being judged could be that they feel hurt or more self conscious from your judgement.

There are so many factors that contribute to someone’s food choices that as an outside observer you probably don’t know about, so you shouldn’t even begin to judge the decisions people make around food.

So what are these factors? I’ve put together the list below on what I think some of the main factors are that would contribute to someone food choices.

  • Family and Upbringing
  • Social background
  • Nationality
  • Income levels
  • Availability of food
  • Religion
  • Cultural beliefs
  • Ethical beliefs
  • Level of education
  • Social circle/friends
  • Relationship/partner
  • Health status/issues/dietary restrictions
  • Personal beliefs and goals

Some of these factors probably have a bigger influence on people’s food choices than others. For example, I think upbringing and family has a significant impact on what people decide to eat. People will tend to prefer the comfort foods that they grew up eating and are familiar with.

Another big factor is health factors and diet. Is someone eating that kale salad because they are on a diet? Are they eating only plain foods because they have a serious digestive condition?

The last factor that I wanted to mention is income level. Someone might only be able to afford to shop at certain stores and afford certain items.

A final point I wanted to mention is the question of why you might want to change someone’s food choices in the first place. Perhaps you care about their health and want them to eat what you believe to be a better diet than their current one. It could be that you feel strongly about supporting a local food system, and want others to show their support too.

So what’s the take away message here?

Don’t judge people based on their food choices because you probably don’t fully understand all the factors behind why they made those choices.

Encourage an open, non-judgmental discussion around the food choices that you care about. Share why you have made your food choices, and let others make their own decisions.

If you are open to learning about why some people have made their food choices, you just might be surprised at how your own views and decisions around food changes in the process.

That’s all for now. I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinion on this topic, so please leave  a message at the bottom of this post or shoot me a message.

-CJ

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