“I Thought You Didn’t Eat…”

I really need to stop talking about diet outside this blog. Even though people find my food experiments entertaining, they also fail to grasp that they are just experiments. Experiments end. The readers of this blog get that. Others don’t. I stopped doing a low-carbohydrate interpretation of the Paleo diet 2 years ago. Yet I still have friends, some that are close, that even after seeing me eat rice, sweet potatoes and ice cream think that I despise carbs.

I’ve gotten an accusatory “I thought you didn’t eat…” over carbs, nuts, dairy, sugar and probably a few I’m forgetting. Part of me thinks they honestly don’t remember me explaining that I do short term experiments and that they forget the outcome. But it happens so frequently and often multiple times with the same person. Constantly explaining or defending my dietary experiments has become too exhausting.

Some people are desperate to feel better about themselves and one way they do it is by pointing out what they see as inconsistencies in others. It doesn’t matter if those inconsistencies are real or perceived. We live in a Gotcha Society. The number one reason that I’ve been successful with my diet in the last four years is because I’m willing to experiment. I don’t have the answers, so I test. I incorporate what works and then discard the rest. Why this upsets some people baffles me.

Are others experiencing a similar situation or if this is just part of the Seattle’s passive aggressive nature?


Young MAS enjoying a meal.



Add yours

  1. It’s the Seattle Passive Aggression. It took me years to figure out what bugs me so much…now that I know that’s what it is I can move on with my life knowing what NOT to bring up in mixed company (Seattlites and non-Seattlites).

    It’s just easier that way.

  2. Regarding Seattle, another thought just came to me.

    A large percentage of this city is highly educated. They’ve worked very hard academically throughout their life. When they see someone like me that is self taught that gets impressive results with minimal effort rejecting conventional wisdom, they feel threatened.

  3. This response is not confined to Seattle. I get frequent accusations about why I am not doing an intermittent fast on some days, and what I am eating on others. It’s exhausting. When other people eat without thought at all except for taste, I find myself resenting that they expect me to explain everything I put in my mouth and when I put it in my mouth. I find the reactions about IF the most extreme. I think most people think I have an eating disorder or that I am flaky. They don’t seem to grasp that while I do follow some self-imposed guidelines most of the time, I also listen to my body and eat according to how I feel. It doesn’t seem to register with them that I am lean and healthy, I’m still WEIRD. I think it is a knee-jerk response to any variant from conventional wisdom and the popular press. So I have stopped discussing anything about diet with anyone other than my husband, even though I think a lot of them could benefit from my experiences.

  4. Not just Seattle. I read some accounts of people having small dinners or no dinner, and getting better sleep. I informed my family that I was going to experiment for a week with moving my meals up earlier in the day, to see if it affected my sleep. On the third day, when eating a relatively large lunch, I got comments such as “Oh sure, you are hardly eating any dinner, but you are eating way more for lunch.” Yes. That was the whole point!! But for some reason, they thought I was fooling myself about calorie restriction (even though I wasn’t attempting to lower calories, just to shift them to an earlier time in the day).

  5. in their defense, you do a lot of food elimination experiments. all they probably hear is i am not eating….. (enter food you have backed out of your diet as an experiment). unless they are around you all the time, they may not be aware you are experimenting with your diet.

    my favorite is “oh yeah, you don’t eat carbs” when i refuse bread. bread is not “carbs”, it is a food i choose not to eat. carbs are a macronutrient i will eat if it is in the right food.

  6. I think it depends on the subset of people. I can’t comment on Seattle vs. non-Seattle, but I know my engineer/science friends understand the experiment concept. No one bats an eyelash at the thought you might try something to determine if it works.

    Of course, I doubt I would have a close friend that would criticize how I eat. I don’t need that in my life, so I may just be self-selecting people who don’t do that.

  7. Glenn Whitney

    Jun 10, 2012 — 7:04 am

    As you know, I’ve been on a similar diet and activity path to you, for roughly the same amount of time.

    Lately I’m amusing myself with a new game – how can I spend time with on person or another, including eating with them *without* them noticing that I’m doing something very different to them?… I find I can live below the radar screen of many people…

    Isn’t there a saying along the lines of “discretion is the better part of valor”?

  8. I can confirm this behavior is firmly entrenched in at least 4 continents (can’t speak for Africa).

  9. @All – I think I like Glenn’s advice on showing as much discretion as possible and flying below the radar. It might be difficult at first, but I’m always up for a challenge.

    As far as Seattle goes, I do see more of the behavior described in the post above. I have a new theory on why that is, but I’ll save that for another post.

  10. Imagine how much healthier those critics might be if they spent as much effort scrutinizing what THEY eat as they spend scrutinizing what others eat.

  11. Finding and ridiculing hypocrisy in others is the lowest possible threshold of criticism.

  12. I’ve never been to Seattle, but this happens all the time in D.C. !

  13. I think it depends on the person more than the location. In my experience, a person’s level of interest and situation/open-mindedness will dictate how much information they actually remember from one conversation to the next.

    If I’m talking to others who have a focus on health (even if it’s not the same focus as mine), they seem more accepting of experimentation or short-term goals…or any goals, really. The idea seems to stick in their heads more.

    If I’m talking to someone who is uninterested in health–maybe they’re on a diet, but probably not for health reasons–then they don’t seem to really hear what I’m saying, or at least they don’t understand any reasons I give them. All they want is “How do I lose weight as quickly and painlessly as possible??”

    When I’m talking to this second “group” of people, I usually try to be as generic and unspecific as I can for two reasons: 1) they usually don’t want any details because it sounds too hard and 2) they want to argue with my conclusions, whether before, during, or after an experiment.

  14. @Ali – That is interesting. My experience is I get the most Gotchas not from the unhealthy, but those that are mostly lean that followed a more conventional path. They worked far harder for their results and somehow feel threatened when they learn all the hacks I took to achieve better results with far less effort.

  15. Renee McHenry

    Jul 3, 2012 — 5:03 pm

    It happens in Vegas, too. It’s a “human” thing. I think we all need to live our truth, but more importantly be prepared for that truth to change and evolve. It will over the course of time, evolve to points that contradict past truths and that’s just fine. Experiments are wonderful tests to that truth and must tried to find the true worth.

  16. Susan Hubbard

    Jul 15, 2012 — 7:25 am

    Ha ha ha ha. For some reason I run into people who like to flaunt their compulsive eating habits (ie ice cream saucer sandwiches daily , a different gorge at a massive amount feeding station nightly ,etc) Recently for four nights running one of the guys has brought Different caravel ice cream products and attempts to get everyone involved in eating them. When I declined by saying that one night was enough he got testy about his own middle and tried to pass it off.

    I think though that it is pretty much the same all over. My theory is that they are interested in what you are saying enough to notice when something changes but that they are either not knowledgable enough about the situation or they were not totally listening to your explanation. Either way it comes back to the way we are communicating to our friends and families.

  17. @Susan – Nice story. I am starting to think that because politics and religion have become taboo subjects that we now are directing all our preaching and converting efforts to food choice. And when others perceive us as inconsistent, they call us ‘sinners!’.

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