Heavy scorn heaped on healthy eaters
Alcoholics can say "never again" to alcohol.
Drug addicts can say the same to drugs, as smokers can to tobacco.
But over-eaters can't swear off eating unless they want to starve to death.
And thanks to the insensitivity of the lucky slim set, many pudgy, portly, tubby and downright blimp-like folks are also routinely subjected to temptation -- and at times, even scorn -- because they're trying to change their bad eating habits.
A new survey by Medi-Weightloss Clinics, a national, physician-supervised chain based in Tampa, quantifies that heavy reality. More than a third of respondents said other people make jokes about their diets. Two-fifths said others serve them food not on their diets. More than half said people urge them to eat foods not on their diets. Such relentless pressure inevitably pushes many overweight Americans back to the fat-filled and sugar-laced trough.
This insidious influence, though frequently exerted by family and friends, extends to the business realm. Chelsey Millstones, Medi-Weightloss' "corporate dietician," told The Wall Street Journal that some co-workers feel "abandoned" by a dieter who no longer pigs out with them -- and that some see trimmed-down office colleagues as "a career threat." So they "call out" the healthy eaters by mocking their attempts to shed poundage.
The Journal also reported: "Resisting is even harder when it means saying no to a client. More than 1 in 5 participants in the Medi-Weightloss Clinics survey say business lunches are where they feel the most pressure to overeat."
Yet while few people goad reformed drunks and recovering dope fiends back to their previously self-destructive ways, many people insist that we weight-challenged sorts eat "just one piece" of filet mignon or birthday cake -- as if one piece would ever be enough for us.
Such demands can lead us astray from our diets -- and leave us consumed by feelings of guilt, inadequacy and futility.
My painful insight on this topic stems from the ordeal of hearing pals persistently pan my shift, a few years back, from voracious gorger of steaks, burgers and fried chicken to health-conscious vegetarian. Cruelly ignoring my lament that for me the first bite of a rare and juicy rib-eye is tantamount to the first gulp of blood for a vampire, they warn that my new menu lacks sufficient protein.
Some even cast my choice to eat healthier as a retreat from manliness.
Lesley Stahl of CBS' "60 Minutes" echoed that misguided perspective on machismo last week with this description of extremely tough guy Meir Dagan, former head of the Mossad, the renowned -- and often deadly -- Israeli intelligence agency: "He led a life of violence, but is a vegetarian."
Stahl's clear implication: Most vegetarians are sissies.
But lest you rough-and-ready beef eaters grow too fat and happy, consider the findings of a Harvard School of Health study published six days ago in the Archives of Internal Medicine: The researchers re-confirmed that eating even small amounts of red meat daily can significantly boost the risks of developing cancer and heart disease.
How many more must die?
How many more inconsiderate gluttons must lower not just our self-esteems but our life expectancies?
Don't you busybodies realize that even when you remain aptly mum on what food enters our bodies, the mere sights and smells of what you eat-- and what we miss -- are already often enough to break our wills?
Many seemingly respectable types routinely dish up recipes for ridicule that trigger face-stuffing relapses.
For instance, at Saturday night's star-studded S.C. Press Association awards banquet at Folly Beach, several fellow honorees teased me for eschewing chances to chew on prime rib and a key lime tart. Their hurtful derision dimmed some of my prize's luster.
But hey, third place was still better than nothing -- though humility precludes dwelling on that editorial-writing accolade here.
And good table manners, along with concern for others' good health, should preclude wronging those who are trying to eat right.