The Problems With Food Policing

AuthorityOne of the most frustrating things that I deal with as part of our fat bashing society is the idea that my fat body is a signal that I need other people to tell me how to live my life – what to eat and what not to eat, how to exercise etc. In fact there is a whole lot of food policing and food moralizing by and against people of all sizes.  I think it’s important that we each be able to make our own choices about what we eat, and have access to information if we want it.  But I wasn’t always this way.

Several years ago I was in a very different place than I am now.  I believed strongly in the moralization of food – I could have written those truly awful Truvia jingles. I shared my thoughts, opinions and judgment with others like I actually had a Food Police badge.   It was at that time that my best friend Kelrick told me about his discovery of Jamba Juice.  In his words I “screwed up my face and said ‘ewwww too much sugar'”  We repeated this scene several times. This is the kind of thing that I’ll be hearing about from Kel for the rest of our lives. Those chickens came home to roost today when I made what I thought was a funny post to my Facebook page:

I’m told that as my training sessions for the Marathon get longer I’ll have to put more thought into hydration. Gatorade was on sale today so I bought 10 different flavors in the hopes of finding some that taste less like flavored sweat and more like anything else. But what is with the flavor names? What the effing crap is “Riptide Rush”? How about naming it something that gives a clue as to the flavor?

I have literally no idea why I capitalized “marathon” by that’s a psychoanalysis for another blog. I had intended for this FB post to be somewhere between “this is funny” and “share my pain.”  Unfortunately some people took it as an invitation to lecture me about what I should put in my own body and broadly moralize about food.  I completely understand how their could have been confusion since I was talking about advice that I had received.  I later posted to clarify and the policing and moralizing immediately stopped.

I’m sure everyone who posted was well-intentioned, I’m sure they believe that they are right and giving me helpful information, hell a few years ago I would have done the same thing. After a lot of studying and soul searching, I’ve come to believe that food policing and moralization, however well-intentioned, are not helpful, and in fact can be quite harmful.

Food policing happens when we decide that it’s not enough to make our own choices about food, we have to help others make choices as well.  Policing other people’s food is a slippery slope – who gets to decide?  Does someone who believes that veganism is the healthiest (and therefore lowest cost-on-society option) get to insist that everyone is vegan?  Do they get to not pay for the healthcare costs of non-vegans?  What about someone who thinks Paleo is the healthiest?

Food policing can take overt forms “Your juice has too much sugar!” or subtle forms “I know you love your bod – please find something healthier to drink!” Subtle or overt, I’ve never met anyone who wanted to tell me what and how to eat, who also wanted someone to be telling them.  Well-intentioned or otherwise, I think it’s a bad idea.

Food policing has any number of problems.  First, it’s arrogant to assume that other people need us to tell them what and how to eat.  It’s also dangerous when the policer doesn’t know everything about the policed.  People recommended that I drink pineapple juice – I’m sure it’s great except I’m allergic to it.  People told me that I should eat peanut butter as a snack.  I’m sure it’s great, except my best friend, who is running with me, is deathly allergic and just having peanuts around him is dangerous. There are some people who can’t digest certain foods, there are food allergies, there are any number of personal issues that might inform how and what a person chooses to eat and unless someone is asking for advice it’s not our place to give it.

Food moralization happens when we assign moral value to food – good, bad, guilt-free, sinful, crap, clean etc.  It’s problematic because it can cause and/or reinforce unhealthy relationships with food.  It also doesn’t take into account individual needs or circumstances, some of which we may not even be aware of. What each person can afford, what they are capable of preparing, any health issues/concerns they may have, and what they like all factor in.

So how does this work in real life?  We have the right to decide that food has a moral value in our own lives, but it’s not ok to try to apply those morals to someone else (just like some people don’t eat pork for religious reasons but it’s not ok to suggest that stores should stop selling bacon.) If we think that a certain company or food should be taken off the shelves, then I think we should consider focusing on the company or the law and putting information out on our own spaces (blogs, FB pages, Twitter etc) , or join spaces where these discussions are encouraged, rather than focusing on individuals and their choices and using other people’s spaces to “educate” them when it’s not been invited.

I’m off to have a Gatorade Jamba Juice.

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105 thoughts on “The Problems With Food Policing

  1. Very true. Food is incredibly problematic anyway. Earlier this year I was at a friend’s place for dinner and said no when she tried to serve me another potato. ‘Cos I was full. She got upset and said “it’s good home cooked food! It won’t make you fat!” as though (a) all decision making around food is based on its fat-promoting ability, not on need, taste or satiety, and (b) food when it’s home cooked acquires magical properties.

  2. THIS!
    Especially as some people tend to really get hysteric. I know people who change their food religion every year and of course try to convince everybody else. One person was first like “Meat is SO bad for you! Everybody should go vegetarian”, then “We humans are not designed to digest other mammal’s breast milk, everybody needs to stop eating dairy or they will DIE”, then “grains are SO bad for us, because back in good-ole stone age we did not have them, too” and finally “every kind of sugar is SO SO SO very very bad for you, don’t eat that banana, it will bring you instant exitus” etc., etc.
    It would be kind of funny if these people didn’t sometimes really suffer because they constantly panic that anything they eat could be bad for them.

    People who are into sports sadly tend to food police a lot. I participated in two runs this year, and every small talk before the race was about food and what you are or are not “allowed” to eat :-/.

    Anecdote: A friend once convinced me to eat Brussel’s sprouts because they would be so very very good for me as they were some magical superfood that would bless me with a least ten additional life years or whatever – so I had a bowl. Result was a night spend on the toilet with the worst stomach cramps I ever experienced. Turned out that my body just doesn’t like Brussel’s sprouts, it had a reason they never tasted good to me.

    1. We didn’t have grains in the Stone Age? Really? Wheat just appeared one day? What about all that maize? I think I need to go back to school.

      1. Well, the “grain is your death” people have a point insofar that it is true that people started to actively grow their own grains about 7000 – 10.000 years ago. That’s why many people assume (!) that before that in good ole stone age, people probably (!) ate a different diet containing less to zero grains. So far I can follow, but the theory goes further saying that humans are not “designed” to digest grains because we started eating them only 10.000 years ago and therefore everybody eating them is destined to illness and premature death 😉 that sounds a little far-fetched to me. Especially as good ole stone age livestyle meant living in caves, being malnourished a lot (I think people in stone age just ate everything they could lie their hands on) and dying at the age of 35 years ;-). Plus, I just read somewhere that human evolution seems faster than believed and because of that it is perfectly possible that after 10.000 years, we have evolved to digest grains just fine. Valid for people living in regions that traditionally eat grains – I would not be suprised if e.g. Inuit people have a higher percentage of gluten-sensitivity, just like East Asian people have a higher percentage of lactose-intolerant people than Causasians.

        Personally, I find nutrition science fascinating in this regard, but it always needs a reality check. And I really don’t like if people generalize. Just because someone is gluten-sensitive and indeed feels better if he or she doesn’t eat grains doesn’t mean that’s true for me. I don’t go around demonizing Brussel’s sprouts, too just because it gives me stomach cramps. I’m quite convinced that intuitive eating is just the solution for that as your body knows what’s good for you.

        1. Not to mention that, whether or not we actually incorporated grains into our diet, we have the digestive enzymes for them. In fact, not only do we have the enzymes, we have them in TWO places (our mouths and our guts) because we just love and need starches (the major component in grains) that much.

          And our bodies RUN on starch, which is why starch, grainy foods like wheat, rice, and starchy roots are the staples of most indigenous diets. They are calorically dense, and provide the exact fuel we need to make ATP.

          Sure, you could argue that those enzymes (amylase) were designed for things like tubers and other roots, and that grains also have cellulose, which we can’t digest. And I would point out that almost all fruits and veg have cellulose, and no one is going around saying:

          “We shouldn’t eat lettuce because back in the day…”

          But I digress… sure it’s possible that we could have evolved the ability to digest and process the starch that is prevalent in grains, and that we could have evolved to run on the starch in grains (which we are) AFTER grains were introduced… but that sort of adaptation takes a long, long, time.

          Sure we can make ATP from the sugars found in fruits, but they don’t pack as much of a caloric punch. And we can make ATP from fats and proteins, but it takes far more energy (and water) to do so–so much that it’s counterproductive over time.

          And our brains are the number one consumers of ATP. It shaves 30% off the top, which means the remaining 70% has to fuel everything else in the body (that means the remaining 60 or 7 organ systems get about 10% each-give or take).

          So that’s one of the reasons why the Paleo, anti-grain argument pisses me off. We NEED grains. We have evolved to digest and use grains very, very, efficiently. That we didn’t figure out how to cultivate them right out of the gate is immaterial.

          That doesn’t mean we didn’t eat them, or that they didn’t grow naturally, only that we didn’t FARM them until later.

          1. I’m not going to comment too much on the advisability of certain popular diets, because nutritional research really is all over the place right now and, really, people should eat what works for them and/or in a manner advised by a doctor who actually knows them, but I am a metabolic biochemist/cell biologist, so I just wanted to note a couple things about various forms of energy.

            First, we don’t have “enzymes for digesting grains”, exactly. We do have enzymes for digesting starches. Starches can be found in grains or in roots and tubers and many kinds of vegetables. Much of the fibrous hull of grains is indigestible to us. Furthermore, people who freak out about grains (besides actual celiacs), are generally worried about one or more of the proteins found in grains or in certain small molecules that inhibit enzymes. In some cases, this is justified–for example, in one study approximately one in three cases of otherwise unresolvable IBS was explained by a non-Celiac gluten intolerance. However, there is very little research on these components of grains, and being terrified of them is such a fad right now that it’s hard to take much seriously.

            However, when it comes to making ATP, sugar found in fruit is as good as starch. That’s because starch is sugar in storage form. All starch is is multiple molecules of sugars (glucose to be exact) linked together. Per weight, starch and sugar are nearly identical in energy content. However, usually starchy *foods* do contain more energy per weight than fruit, because so much of fruit is water.

            When it comes to fat, though, there is a difference. Fat yields *far* more energy than sugar or starch per weight–more than twice as much, actually. Many of your organs will actually preferentially run on fat when it is available (heart muscle and liver are the big two) and in certain states skeletal muscle prefers it as well. The brain, however, runs on glucose (with the exception of when a person is in a ketotic state). However, it is *absolutely false* that it takes more energy to run on fat than on starch or sugar. It is also false that using fat for energy requires more water. First, metabolism generates water. It is combustion, after all. In fact, many animals rely on metabolic water for all their water needs! (We are not one of them, though.) Burning starch produces about 55 grams of water per 100 grams of starch. Utilizing fat generates twice as much–110 per gram of fat. So per weight, fat generates more water and more energy. Per unit energy, fat and starch are similar in water generation. And even if starch *were* clearly superior as you claim, there are many sources of starch and grains are only one.

            While you are correct that there is little evidence that grains are in any way harmful for most people, it is absolutely false that humans need grains to survive or thrive. There are hunter gatherer populations which survived tens of thousands of years without significant or even any contributions of grains to their diets. There are ultramarathoners who do not eat grains (and those who do, and those who are vegans.) Grains are a source of energy, but they do not contribute nutrients which cannot be found elsewhere in most modern diets. Grains are especially useful nowadays because there are such huge numbers of people on this planet to feed, and because without high-yield strains of wheat and rice many of them would not eat. But it is patently false that humans in general *need* grains in their diets.

            1. Granted, my first sentence could have been worded better but I did NOT say that we had enzymes for digesting GRAIN, I said we had enzymes for digesting STARCH. Then I went on to talk about STARCH and how STARCH (including grains) is a main component of many indigenous diets.

              I also did not say that GRAINS were the ONLY source of starch and nutrients, I said they were a LARGE source—because they ARE. I also mentioned RICE and STARCHY ROOTS.

              As far as glycolysis vs gluconeogenesis is concerned:

              Glycolysis (making energy from sugar) uses 2 ATP for energy to yield 4ATP. But, since the cells had to use 2ATP, then the body can only use the remaining 2.

              Gluconeogenesis (turning fats or proteins INTO sugar THEN making ATP) uses SIX ATP to perform the process leaving only 2 ATP for the body to use.

              Also, gluconeogenesis ONLY works because your body HAS TO convert fats and proteins into SUGAR. So, fats and proteins in their native form are NOT usable fuel.

              So, your claim that “Fat yields *far* more energy than sugar or starch per weight–more than twice as much, actually.” is only partially correct.

              It WOULD yield more ATP if it didn’t use THREE TIMES AS MUCH to synthesize glucose, then synthesize the glucose into ATP.

              This comment: “However, it is *absolutely false* that it takes more energy to run on fat than on starch or sugar.”

              Is flat out wrong since 6ATP is more than 2ATP.

              Are there people in the world who don’t live on grains or starches, absolutely. There are the Inuit who (at least used to) have a diet heavy in wale fat, and other animal fats.

              Humans are adaptable, that’s why we have gluconeogenesis. But, whether the body is using fat, protein, or starch, it can only use GLUCOSE to make ATP.

              And if starch, the raw component of glucose, is not available then it has to synthesize it from something else and that most certainly does take more energy because it’s an extra step in the process.

              Everything cost energy, that extra step isn’t free.

              1. You would be correct if glycolysis were the only way to use food molecules for energy. It is not. Fat is burned directly from long hydrocarbon chains into acetyl CoA. This step produces energy in itself. *Then*, the acetyl CoA goes into the TCA cycle where the it is oxidized to make high energy intermediates such as NADH and FADH2 (as well as an ATP equivalent, GTP). These high energy intermediates are used in electron transport to generate more ATP. This, not glycolysis, is where the overwhelming majority of ATP we get from food comes from. Fat oxidation skips glycolysis entirely and goes straight for the high energy intermediates. We only rely on glycyolysis alone when we are exercising so hard that out muscles are starved for oxygen. Even the brain, notorious glucose dependent, can run primarily on ketone bodies to conserve glucose for vital processes. This is all basic biochemistry, which I teach once a year.

                It is actually completely false that fat is made into sugar via gluconeogenesis before it is burned. Besides the fact that, as I described above, fat can be oxidized all the way to water and CO2 and energy without an intervening glucose step, humans do not even have the pathways to do do gluconeogenesis from fats. (We can make some amino acids, called the “glucogenic” amino acids, into sugar, but others are “ketogenic” and like fat cannot be made into sugar). We lack the enzymes required to take the end product of fatty acid beta oxidation, acetyl CoA, backwards to the building blocks of glucose. Plants and some fungi and bacteria can do this, but we don’t. The only part of fat we can make into sugar is the glycerol backbone of a triglyceride. This comprises a minuscule fraction of the energy in a triglyceride made up of, say, three palmitates, a common fatty acid. Again, humans *cannot* make a fatty acid into glucose, so your assertion that there’s an “extra step” that costs energy is false.

                1. Just to add/clarify, there is a little used pathway in mammals in which a particular kind of fatty acid (not a super common kind) when oxidized yields many molecules of acetyl CoA (which can’t go toward glucose) and one single molecule of propionyl CoA (which can). Again, this is more an exception than anything, as like glycerol this single molecule is a miniscule fraction of the amount of energy contained in fat. The overwhelming majority *must* be processed in a manner which does not use glucose or pyruvate as an intermediate, and even this molecule is usually straight up burned for energy instead of being sent back to glucose (which only happens when glucose levels are critically low) but I figured I’d throw it out there.

          2. @Cass: Are you using “people who freak out about grains (besides actual celiacs)” to mean only people who think they’re intolerant/allergic/sensitive to grains in a way that most other people aren’t? Because I would describe paleo people as “people who freak out about grains”, myself, and we were mostly talking about paleo people in the previous comments (or at least I thought so). But from what I’ve seen, the main reasons Paleo people give for avoiding grains are either, simply, that hunter-gatherers/paleolithic people eat/ate little or no grain, or (if they go any further than reason #1) that our bodies can’t handle that quantity of starches/carbs (because of reason #1). See, for example, the infamous professor Geoffrey Miller, who both talks about “the willpower to give up carbs” and is a fan of Paleo diets.

            1. I was mostly referring to people who became utterly convinced they had a severe gluten intolerance the moment gluten free snacks started showing up in the market, but who will forget it in a year when the next fad comes along.

        2. And I am more than happy to slip you my bread and cake in exchange for your Brussels sprouts. Oh, man, am I ever.

          1. oh, you can keep your bread and cake, I have enough of them myself 🙂 But feel free to take aaaaallll the sprouts!

            Before I started intuitive eating, I was prone to fad diets, too (shame on me!) and I once tried to cut starch carbs out (like not eating them at all). Turns out my body really, really wants grains – which might be because I have an intellectually challenging job AND I do long-distance running, silly old me was obviously thinking my brain and body could exist from thin air. But running on tuna-salad with lettuce and radishes doesn’t work for me (surprise, surprise! :-)). It’s so strange, people would never expect their car to run on air, water or diluted salad oil instead of gas but expect their bodies to work that way…

        3. Ubarto & Jill Jackson:
          Yes, tubers=starchy is something I always think about when the Paleo people talk about how we “didn’t evolve to digest grains”. Tubers are pretty important in many hunter-gatherer diets. Dairy also has a comparable food–meat. The only macronutrient part of dairy that isn’t fairly similar to the fats and proteins found in meat is lactose–and lactose is only in some types of dairy products. If you’re lactose-tolerant, that means you’ve evolved at least some ability to deal with lactose–and if you are lactose-tolerant, I doubt that lactose is metabolized all that differently from fructose.

          “Everyone dying at 35” is kind of a misconception, though. That’s more like the average lifespan–but rather than most people dying at around 35, a lot of people died in infancy or childhood (a lot of diseases hit the very young, very old, and pregnant women hardest) and a lot of people made it to 60+. If you made it through childhood without dying, your chances of living past 35 were not bad. Hunter-gatherers and paleolithic people are/were better nourished than subsistence farmers in the early days of agriculture–groups who transitioned from hunting and gathering to agriculture lost height, for example–but both groups were sometimes subject to micronutrient deficiencies as well as food shortages. There is also a lot of variation between different hunter-gatherer groups in how much of their diet consists of plants/meat/fish, which seems to me like evidence that humans evolved to be fairly flexible in what they ate.

  3. yup! And the whole Good, Bad, Guilty, Decadent, etc. Why can’t we just enjoy and nourish ourselves?

    1. I admit to reading Woman’s World, a weekly tabloid that’s the distillation of our paradoxical food culture: every cover has a lushly photographed dessert AND a fabulous new diet on it. I like to daydream about living in the brightly colored, comfortable world shown in its pages, and I have to admit that their food columns (yes, multiple) have fabulous recipes that people I cook for gobble up. But I also daydream about publishing a weekly tabloid of my own, called, say, Home and Friends. In the main office of Home and Friends, there is a large poster listing the Forbidden Words, and “decadent” is right at the top along with “guilt-free.”

  4. My biggest food policing pet peeves are:
    1. When someone says they’ve eaten whatever, and someone chimes in with ” that’ll undo all your hard work” or ” you’ll have to do extra pushups!”

    2. Those stupid “this is what’s in your food.. EWWW” memes that people pass around on Facebook.

    Like, the one showing a forklift moving a giant pile of animal bones that says ” this is what’s in gummy bears!”

    Yeah, and its also in yogurt, and jello, and gel caps for meds, and some ethnic dishes that people make and eat on the regular. So good job on the inflammatory imagery and food shaming.

    Also, I think that when you moralize food, you also moralize the people who eat it.

    1. I hate so much the “this is what’s really in your food!” scare tactics. I make a lot of food from scratch, and let me tell you: food is just inherently disgusting. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it at home or someone else is doing it at a factory; eventually you’re going to wind up with boiling chicken feet (makes a DELICIOUS broth!) and rotten milk (mmmm sourdough).

      Nature is gross. Nature depends on rotting, on fermentation, on weird little bugs and nasty fleshy bits. You can freak out that just about everything you put in your mouth can somehow be skewed to be disgusting, or you can enjoy your food.

      1. NOPE! All Real and healthy food comes straight from angel butts, never having been touched by human hands (or other icky things). 😉

        1. Great. Now all I can see in my head is Angels sitting on tiny pink clouds pooping out casseroles and Brussels sprouts! I may never eat again.

      2. Yes!
        I mean, when I think too hard about how honey or cheese is made, yeast bread dough, or even about the process of chewing and digesting my food… it really is kinda gross. That was what got to me a bit about the “pink slime” thing–there seemed to be legitimate concern about it bacteria and such, but the “INSTEAD OF A GROUND-UP LARGE PIECE OF BEEF IT’S MADE FROM SMALLER SCRAPS OF BEEF SO THE TEXTURE WHILE THEY’RE ASSEMBLING IT LOOKS WEIRD” was a little strange to me, given that most of the people passing it around would have no problem eating what is basically bee vomit.

        Animal bones seem like another funny target. I make stock with animal bones all the time, and so did my parents when I was growing up (usually using the bones from a roast turkey or chicken). I don’t get why someone would think the bones are gross but the muscle isn’t.

    2. To my meat-eating mind, animal bones are one of the great gifts of the food realm. Besides, I figure if I’m going to eat animals – and I am going to eat animals both because I find them delicious and because when I go more than about two days without meat I become listless, forgetful, and generally cranky – I’d like to respect it enough to eat as much of it as I can. Again, purely my personal view as regards my own food choices.

      After all, I married a man who prefers his meat in as denatured a version as possible and who doesn’t want to think about a lot of the bits of animals I’m happy to eat. Or a lot of the animals I eat. In fact, if he ate more vegetables, he might almost go vegetarian. Except that he’s not keen on that, either. When he’s home for dinner, we eat according to his philosophy. When I’m alone, I eat according to mine. When we go out to eat, neither of us is allowed to say a damn word about what the other chooses to put on their plate unless it’s ‘that looks tasty’ or ‘isn’t it nice for you that ___ was on the menu’.

      We make different choices, left to our own devices, and we can each respect the other’s choice without sharing it.

      1. I really wish I could digest meat. A nice, gelatin-rich marrow stock is a thing of beauty, and if you boil the bones long enough, you get enough calcium to keep you going all day.

        (Yeah, how many veg/pescetarians say THAT on any given day? Oh, man, now I want to slow-cook a brisket.)

          1. Can you please tell me how to make that? *blink blink * it sounds good. is it a rich, flavory broth or a thin weak one

            1. Maybe Nof will chime in with another recipe to share, but here’s one. This article gives both a “classic” stock recipe and some “shortcuts” for a slightly lazier version. (Scroll down about a page to get to the actual recipe.) You can use raw bones, cooked bones, even bones from dinner plates. (The bones get boiled for hours, so no need to worry about other people’s germs.) Many people keep a ziploc bag in their freezer and throw in bones, pieces of skin and gristle, and vegetable odds and ends in order to use them for stock later. (I have some onion tops, ends of carrots, shiitake mushroom stems, a bag with some chicken bones, a turkey neck, and some fat and gristle I trimmed off of a couple skirt steaks in my freezer right now.)

              Whether it’s a rich broth or a thin broth depends on your ratio of water to bones–you can get a weak broth to be richer by boiling it and therefore concentrating it some more. I haven’t played around much with simmering vs. full boil, but according to the linked Salon article, simmering vs. fully boiling keeps the fats from emulsifying with the broth too much, which results in a clearer stock; boiling and emulsifying makes a cloudier stock but presumably a richer taste. You might find that you prefer the taste of one vs. the other. Simmering is more traditional for European stocks, fully boiling is more traditional for Asian stocks.

              Some people add vinegar, lemon, or wine to their broth and say that the acid in these ingredients helps extract the calcium and/or gelatin from the bones. (Most wines have a pH between 2.9 and 3.9.)

  5. Eh, I wouldn’t have assumed that ‘ewwww too much sugar’ was food policing. I have been known to make similar comments – but only because I really seriously dislike the flavor of that much sugar in a drink. I’ve never been known to say that about ice cream :). And I could care less that my partner still likes gatorade, I just don’t want a sip.

    We had some weird instances of this when our children were smaller too. When we would go to an outdoors event, we brought water for us and the kids – by choice. I cannot tell you the number of times well-intentioned bystanders tried to foist juice or milk on us, as if we were being horrible parents by giving them water. My kids were fine with water, still are to this day. At home where refrigeration is easy, milk and juice work fine.

    There is a scary amount of actual food policing going on in Early Education too. I am not supposed to serve whole milk to any child past one year old, in case that cup of milk a day might make them obese. I happen to believe that research shows there is serious harm in depriving a growing brain of fat sources in the diet, but I am not allowed to make that call in what we serve at the center. I’ve had parents of children under 1 chide me for serving whole milk – telling me I am making their baby fat! How can anyone look at a child at that age and think ‘fat’? Bad enough when they start the weird food stuff when kids are older, but that young? It seems to me that they are setting their child up for lifelong eating disorder potential.

    1. I think the whole issue with the “Eww too much sugar” thing is that you are expressing judgment of something that you don’t really need to express. I mean if you don’t like too much sugar, that’s fine. But if someone is expressing their food choices ( “l love Jambs Juice”) do they really need to know that you think it has too much sugar?

      I mean, it’s one thing if they come to you and say “you really need to be drinking Jamba Juice” because now they are foisting their opinions on you. and, in that instance it’s totally okay to say ‘No thanks it has too much sugar for me.”

      I think the bottom line is, are they asking for your opinion? If not, then you’re probably policing.

      1. For me, the two operating words are “for me.” When I hear someone say “That’s too much sugar” it’s a different experience than hearing “That’s too much sugar FOR ME.” The latter feels to me like sharing, not policing. Too much sugar makes me woozy, and for that reason I try to minimize it, but that’s only my experience.

        I’m not a big gatorade fan and would generally rather have water + fruit. However, I have to say the day I did the biggest bicycle ride of my life (90 miles), after about 40 miles, I needed some dang gatorade or I was going to bonk. At a certain point when you’re doing extremely lengthy workouts, your body just needs food in the most easily accessible form.

        1. I totally agree that the “for me” makes a difference, that’s why I included it. Still, when and how you use that “for me” is also important. Again, if they didn’t ask your opinion, then why give it.

          If someone says: “I went to McDonalds the other day and had a McRib.” and you counter with “That food has too much fat for me,” that’s policing. Because they didn’t ask you for your opinion, and they don’t really need to know about your fat requirements.

          If someone says: “I went to McDonalds the other day and had a McRib. I hated it.” and you counter with “That food has too much fat for me,” that could be borderline policing, depending on how the conversation evolves. I mean, they opened the conversation but, again, do they really need to know how much fat you will allow yourself to eat?

          If someone says: “You really need to eat one of these McRibs” and you counter with “That food has too much fat for me,” then you are simply stating why YOU really don’t want (or need) to eat one of those McRibs. You are not indicating that they are bad for everyone.

          Do you see the difference?

          The bottom line is, before you offer an opinion, it’s a good idea to ask yourself if your food opinions and preferences are any of their business, and if it’s your business to tell them.

        2. Even with “for me” or some similar phrasing, statements can still be pretty policing. One of my grandmothers is a master at this: “You eat BUTTER? I NEVER eat butter!” Or once, when she called me after an important interview and I told her I was relaxing and having a beer, “You like BEER? I’d rather have something else!” Um, okay . . . good thing you’re 3000 miles away and I didn’t offer you a beer, then, I guess . . .?

          When I give an opinion about food or drinks (which I try not to do unless I’ve been asked, or it’s directly relevant to the conversation) in addition to “for me,” I try to use words that describe how I perceive the flavor, or how it affects me personally, like “Jamba Juice smoothies taste a bit too sweet to me” (false, I love them, just an example) or “Gatorade kind of tastes like medicine to me” (actually true) rather than blanket statements like “Jamba Juice has too much sugar!” or “Gatorade has too many chemicals!” Basically I try to make it very clear that it’s my opinion/perception, not some sort of absolute fact.

          1. I miss beer. Thank Elvis I found a friendly liquor store that carries Estrella Daura, which has the gluten removed during processing. It’s also a pretty damn good Spanish lager.

        3. I remember a long time ago, when Gatorade tasted even worse than it does now, my mom got heat exhaustion. I got her some Gatorade and she sucked it down like it was the nectar of the gods and told me it was delicious. Apparently, her body’s needs dictated to her taste buds what tasted good at the time. I thought that was fascinating at the time and have cut Gatorade (which has never tasted good to me) some slack. I think I have to draw the line at Gatorade Jamba Juice, though…

          1. Apparently the same thing happens when you’re physically starving – all things with calories start to look amazingly delicious.

          2. I think that’s a common thing with Gatorade. I usually don’t like it, but if I’m outside being active in 90-degree heat, it’s heavenly. And I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Wow, that actually tastes good—I must’ve needed it” about the bright orange liquid.

            (My context is Pennsic, an SCA event in August where people are running around in heavy armor hitting each other upside the head with sticks…or just doing tons of walking in way more clothing than most people wear in August in PA.)

      2. Yep. I heard a wonderful rule somewhere in the FA universe. (One of the commenters on either the Fat Nutritionist or the Feeding Doctor, I think.):

        Don’t “yuck” someone else’s “yum.”

    2. We had to get a note from my son’s pediatrician in order for him to get whole milk at daycare, otherwise they were forced to give him 1%. I was really surprised that there is a fear of obesity at such a young age.

      1. I have never liked milk. Back in the dark ages, I had to have a note to not drink milk, and I am pretty sure it was whole milk. Each lunch time I went to the kitchen where the nice fat kitchen ladies gave me a glass of tepid water. This was in the day when we were forced to eat everything served, so the note was necessary to avoid that problem. I never got a note for navy bean soup, but I hated it. I was a skinny little kid, and even without the milk, I managed to be smart. And I got fat with no milk at all.

    3. ” I am not supposed to serve whole milk to any child past one year old, in case that cup of milk a day might make them obese.”

      What. The. Ever. Loving. Fuck. Kids up to PUBERTY should have some quantity of saturated fat, never mind a slightly higher percentage of dietary fat, in order to ensure proper brain development and nerve growth. Hell, it should continue to some degree through age 25 or so! Fuck this culture. Fuck this culture with a rusty pickaxe wielded by an angry, psychotic Dwarf. (Tolkien, not Disney.) How in LIVING SHIT did we as an overall culture become so obsessed with thinness that we would sacrifice brain development? And why do so many people continually drink that Flavor-Ade?

      1. I agree, on all points, esp. the fat. From a young age my family made us all drink skim, and use margarine (which amazingly has the same total fat as butter, which I just found out), and take the skins off the meat. Needless to say I’m the shortest woman on all sides of the family, and I have some nerve problems now which I’m sure are consequences of the low-fat. Also I was extremely ill all the time as a kid, always throwing up, so I wasn’t getting much nutrition at all.

        Then throughout my teen and twenties I was deeply anorexic and now I’m living with those consequences too, like low iron and B12. No one really cared about any of this though, during my youth, as treating it would make me “faaaattt”.

      2. Wow, Susan, it’s so cool to hear someone say this. It is very important that dairy-tolerant children have fat with their milk. Do kids actually willingly drink lowfat milk? I hated it when I was a kid. My nephew refused to drink processed milk unless it was chocolate until he came to our house and drank raw milk from the farm. I’ve heard that children often can’t stand the taste of cooked, i.e. pasteurized, milk, though our local pasteurized organic milk (MOO milk) is the best pasteurized milk I’ve ever tasted.

  6. That makes sense…I’ll have to watch it more carefully, but I think its usually when someone is saying “try this!”.

    I do worry that I food police my kids too much, but there it seems to be a fine line. I am responsible for what they eat, at home at least, but I am trying hard not to set them up for all the problems I’ve had. They are currently both (a boy and a girl) slender and very muscular. I hope for their sakes that they remain so. But I am also glad to stand as living proof for them that if they do happen to get fat, it needn’t limit their life choices. I was told that because I was overweight (wasn’t even fat at the time) I’d never get married, never have a good job, you get the picture… Fortunately I am stubborn, and didn’t allow that to deter me from anything I really wanted to do.

    But still, I do want them to eat healthy – at least the best research based definition of ‘healthy’ I can find. As they get older I’ve been really trying more and more to let them make the decisions. After all, they are bright kids, they know what I think, so I needn’t keep pushing it.

  7. A funny thing about Gatorade: for most people it will never taste good until your body really, really needs it. The people who work the Renaissance Faire with me and I have all known that for years. When we’re running about in 40 to 50 pounds of brocade and velvet in the 100+ degree Texas heat, we know that water and Gatorade are all that keep us upright and entertaining. We also know that when we take a sip of Gatorade, if it actually tastes good, then we really need to get more electrolytes in our system. If it doesn’t taste good,then we’re fine for the moment.

    A lot of people also don’t realize that Gatorade wasn’t designed to be taken in by itself. It was actually designed to be taken in on a 1:1 ratio with water. This can be accomplished by either alternating equal amounts of G with equal amounts of water, or diluting it by half with water. Another good option, if you like it, is pickle juice. I know…sounds odd, but Gatorade was actually developed by the Florida Gators because their athletes were drinking pickle juice to replace their electrolytes and they wanted something that didn’t TASTE like pickle juice but had the same benefits.

    I’m just full of useless factoids like that. *grin*

    So anyway, you can’t really effectively taste test Gatorade when you don’t need it because you probably won’t like any of it.

    Oh, and I’m a Blue Gatorade Girl. Doesn’t matter the flavor name, I only like the blue ones. 😉

    1. That probably explains why, when I was taking lithium, I LOVED Gatorade. Lithium dehydrates like you wouldn’t believe. I lived on Gatorade and had no problems with the taste. Whereas, prior to the lithium, I was disgusted by it.

      I only like the clear ones, any color, except the low-cal stuff with sucralose. I’m not a fan of the cloudy ones.

    2. A little OT, but since you mention it: I also only drink Gatorade when working a Renaissance Fair. Yay for us who brave the heat in our 6 layers of garb.

    3. I must be a freak–I love Gatorade, although I rarely drink it. Pretty certain I’m not dehydrated most of the time.

      Then again, I also like pickle juice, so who knows. It’s so tart and crisp!

      1. I like Gatorade, too. And Powerade. I do agree they should have flavor names that better reflect what they’re supposed to taste like, though.

      2. I’m with you on the Gatorade! I like it. My system is a wreck & have needed extra electrolytes. If I can find the G2 Gatorade, I buy it. It has more electrolytes that that drink for babies & kids! Pediasure?

  8. As an acupuncturist and alternative care provider, let’s set out some things.

    We are what we eat. We are all balanced differently. Therefore, we should all be eating differently to maintain a certain healthy balance in our bodies. So unless you are my naturopath or my personal acupuncturist, don’t tell me what to eat or not to eat. Of course, my naturopath is just working on yelling at me to eat more regularly and to EAT MORE.

  9. If you have a flavor of Kool-aid you like, adding 3/4 tsp of salt to it when you make a pitcher makes a great gatorade sub. Its a ton cheaper, and has better flavor options. I drink a lot of plain water, and it helps me stay properly salted 🙂

  10. Just a note, if you can’t find a Gatorade flavor you like, I’ve had good luck with diluting unflavored Pedialyte with juice of some kind. 🙂

    I miss the days when Gatorade came in two flavors: test tube orange, and nuclear reactor green. That green stuff was the best thing ever when I was a kid, equal parts amazing and disgusting. Why they had to ruin that, I have no idea.

  11. If you still can’t stomach the Gatorade (which I like, but it can be a bit of an acquired taste), there’s also SmartWater, which is just unflavored water with added electrolytes. Alternatively, if you don’t mind the expense and like the taste of coconut, coconut water’s supposed to be a good hydrator.

  12. You wrote: “Food policing has any number of problems. First, it’s arrogant to assume that other people need us to tell them what and how to eat. It’s also dangerous when the policer doesn’t know everything about the policed. People recommended that I drink pineapple juice – I’m sure it’s great except I’m allergic to it.”

    I was part of this conversation and these were my exact words: “Coconut water is hard for me to get used to all by itself – but I can stand it (and sometimes even like it) when it is mixed half and half with pineapple juice. Might even be able to do 1/2 coconut water, 1/4 juice, and 1/4 water, just to cut back on the sugar.”

    I have a couple points to make.
    1) It’s clear that some of the comments are directed at you, but some were part of the conversation and directed at other commentators. My comment was one of those since two people who commented before me recommended coconut water.

    2) I’d like to know how I became lumped into those who would chastise you just because I mentioned something that I like. Only one other person mentioned pineapple juice when they basically said the same thing as me, which was: “I mix coconut water with pineapple juice for a pina colada hydrator. My favorite!”

    In your response to all the comments on Facebook, you said “Please keep your comments, however well meaning, to being about what you enjoy for yourself (“I love aloe juice, yum!”)…” It seems to me that that is exactly what I and the other pineapple juice lover did.

    1. Hi Autumn,

      Thanks for your comment on this. To respond directly to your points:

      1. When you said “Might even be able to do 1/2 coconut water, 1/4 juice, and 1/4 water, just to cut back on the sugar.” I read that as a recommendation and possibly a bit moralizing about sugar, if I misread it I’m sorry that was entirely my mistake.

      2. One of the reasons that I broadly said that “people recommended that I drink pineapple juice” rather than quoting any one post was because the posts were different and because I received a private message about the thread that very clearly recommended pineapple juice but since it was sent privately I didn’t feel comfortable quoting it. My including of the pineapple recommendations/comments wasn’t intended to be accusatory of anything, rather I included it because I happen to be allergic to pineapple and so it illustrated an issue that can happen. Upon re-reading the paragraph I absolutely see how it could be read as accusatory and I apologize, I should have been more clear in my writing.

      I’m totally open to more communication about this, either here, on FB, or on e-mail.



  13. I couldn’t agree more with this blog entry. I find this kind of food policing unfortunately prevalent, even in the liberal communities in which I hang my hat. Often, it’s just the content that changes from group to group; instead of lambasting peeps for eating stuff that “makes them fat!!!!”, many liberal folks (even fat positive ones!) I know substitute “processed foods,” “bleached sugar,” and “GMOs.”

    Recently, I stayed with some beloved friends who try to eat organic, vegan, non-processed foods. They weren’t *overtly* critical of my food choices, but their talk about the evils of processed, sugary foods reminded me strongly of my dieting days. I left their house one night, turned to my partner, and blurted, “Take me to the store right now for crappy chocolate. Nothing extra dark, nothing organic. I want Reese’s Right. Now!”

    Folks, please stop policing others’ food choices, whether your motivation is keeping them skinny or supposedly improving their longevity. You don’t agree with someone’s choice of sugary soda and physics-defying french fries? Write an angsty poem or call up another anti-soda friend and gripe. Please keep your shaming thoughts, however well-intentioned, to yourselves.

    1. This reminds me of being in the vegetarian restaurant with my friend. We decided to split a cookie from the bakery and when the woman at the counter told us we SHOULD have an oatmeal/raisin cookie we both opted for the cookie with chocolate chips. And afterwards shared how her telling us what to have made us want something else!

  14. My parents are VERY, EXTRA, OBSESSED, about being thin!! So obsessed they take a scale on vacation! EVERY TIME!!! I tell you this because I am setting the scene. Thanksgiving dinner, my mother comments in my plate. My response now & since- “Funny, I don’t remember turning on the fat judgmental bonus track!” It has cut the comments off! At least at their table.

    1. AHHH they take the scale on vacation!?!? I admit that’s one I’ve never heard. Usually vacation is the only time dieting/thin obsessed people allow themselves to eat what they want.

  15. My husband has to have frequent colonoscopies due to prevalent colon cancer in his family and his prep features a lot of gatorade; every time he sees a gatorade commercial he just instinctively clinches up.

    I think food comments should come with the explicit statement that you are in your hula hoop and any food comments are meant to be applied just to you and your tastes and do not apply to anyone else.

  16. I lost a lot of weight. Stress and change in habits. Anyway, my appetite has returned in abundance. My boyfriend is constantly food policing me. I have GI issues which my boyfriend claims are due to stress and diet. I’m having a endo-colonscopy next week to find out if there is anything I can do to fix the GI issues.

    If diet is the problem, then I rather police myself. If diet turns out to be the issue with my GI problems, I’ll work with a nutritionist to find the foods that keep my GI system running as smoothly as possible. I’ve had these GI issues for our thirty years. They won’t be sorted out overnight.

  17. Aurgh YES. Yesterday I was at IKEA with my friend and we had lunch at the cafetaria. I had a salad roll, a piece of cake and several chopped pieces of pineapple. The woman in line behind me said loudly to me, “you don’t need TWO desserts!”
    This was the first time anyone in public has ever given me guff about my food choices as a fatty. In absolute shock and disbelief, I turned to her and indignantly yet politely replied, “I can eat whatever I want!!” then turned back to my friend – who was very impressed with my quick reply.
    Ragen, without your blog and your wonderful normalisation of my body and advice on how to be fat, visible and happy, I would have had absolutely no response to this disgustingly rude woman. THANK YOU!!!!
    PS Having fresh fruit as part of my lunch is HARDLY “two desserts”. Grrrr.

    1. Perhaps, but that’s just it, you could have had three different plates of desserts with no fresh fruit in sight and it STILL would have been an absurdly rude comment for anyone to make!

      1. I will admit that I have had fresh fruit as dessert, but I don’t consider it A dessert. I mean, if I was eating fresh cherries and someone came along and offered me cake, I’d be all like “hell yeah!”

        1. Oh, not me. If I was eating cake and someone offered me cherries instead, I’d be “hell yeah!” to that! I do consider fruit to be a dessert, in the sense that it’s a nice thing to eat at the end of a meal. I LOVE fruit. Especially cherries. ZOMG when is November already?

      2. I was wondering the same thing (though I do love fruit salad). It wouldn’t even occur to me that she had two desserts, assuming I even noticed what she was eating in the first place (which is kind of a big assumption, since I don’t make a habit of minding other people’s business).

      3. It’s gotten to the point that nutrition expert types are like, “Really! Fruit is good for you! Eat it!” I think some of the low carb philosophies say that fruit isn’t good for you, and then some of the people who do consider fruit a “good food” and are trying to promote “good foods” say to have fruit for dessert, and both of those things probably result in people thinking fruit isn’t very healthy and limiting it.

        1. Oh, the irony. Back in the late ’70s and ’80s, when I was hungry and wanted a snack, Mom gave me fruit because it was healthy and good for me. (This was before I started getting put on diets, mind, and suddenly grapes were Bad For Me.) Cranky? Apple. Whiny? Peach. Peckish? Banana, which also gave me the BEST TOY EVER. Hungry in the middle of the afternoon in summer? OMFG PEEEEEACH! Lunch didn’t quite fill me up? Wedge of the pineapple I’d cleaned my room in order to get. Sometimes she even gave into my begging and got (GASP!) black grapes instead of green! They had seeds, but were SO much sweeter, and I would take a would big bowl of them to my room and completely ruin my appetite, so I ignored my meat at dinner and only ate my veggies.

          IIRC, it was about the mid-’80s that fruit started to become the devil. Suddenly, there was too much sugar in it. Tropical fruit of any kind was the worst, including bananas and pineapple, then grapes and stonefruit (peaches and similar), then citrus. I was allowed an apple a day, and only certain flavorless varieties. Is it any wonder my passion for food took a downswing during that period? Thank Elvis I learned to ignore the rules and feed myself.

          (Fun fruit fact: durian, when refrigerated properly, can make an entire house smell like a gas leak. I really wish I’d gotten that on video. My dad’s such an engineer.)

    2. You can’t win with some people. “Eat more fruits and vegetables.” “Hey, what are you doing eating that fruit?”

  18. Blue.

    Blue Gatorade is the one that my brain never tries to reason with, it simply accepts that it tastes like BLUE. And somehow that makes it taste ok.

  19. *gets on soapbox* Paleo is the most bullshit name for an eating plan I have ever heard of. “Non-processed” “organic” whatever but don’t use the term paleo and do not try to ascertain that it’s how our ancestors ate because it’s *not*. If you want to eat like our ancestors, you’re welcome to forage ALL DAY for food that you find growing around wherever you live. Chase down and spear your meat with an atlatl and spear. In addition, you can not use enclosed shelters and definitely not air conditioning. Cook all your food over a fire if you do indeed cook your food at all. No? That’s what I thought. *steps off of the anthropologist soapbox*

    1. Thank you! One thing I remember from all those graduate anthropology classes is that people all over the world eat incredibly different diets, yet somehow survive. I remember that when someone blathers on about “humans were NEVER MEANT TO EAT ________” (where ____ could be dairy, meat, grain, sugar, etc.).

  20. The other thing about ‘ancient people never ate grain’ is that grain decays, so we might not have a lot of record of it. Although this article seems to have evidence that ancient people did eat grain:

    After all, modern crops came from SOMEWHERE. People didn’t just wake up one day and magically have crops.

    There are also modern hunter-gatherers that practice modified farming, in that they intentionally plant what they want in an area, go away for a period of time, then come back and gather what has grown.

  21. This is a really interesting conversation. I’ve suffered from a lot of food policing in my life (thanks, mom!), and watched plenty of it go on around me (extended family, yay!), even when it’s not directed specifically at me. I’m definitely sensitive to the “do you really need _____?” or “don’t eat that, you’re not really hungry, just put it down” kind of stuff.

    But I’m also wondering where we draw the line between “food policing” and general conversational sharing with people you care about. If I was sitting around with a few friends, having dinner or drinking coffee or chilling around my firepit, and said, “I’ve been running more lately, but I’ve been getting super-exhausted. I think maybe I need to eat more calories if I’m going to keep this up,” and my training-for-a-marathon friend replies, “Yep, that was definitely something I had to get used to when I first started running. Try amping up your breakfasts, like with eggs and bacon,” I don’t think that’s food policing, I think it’s conversational. I’m all for eliminating judgment and shame and stigma from food/exercise/body size/etc. But I don’t feel a need to 100% eliminate all conversation that is remotely related to food/exercise/body size. Anyone else?

    1. Hi Katie,

      I would say that food policing happens when someone comments on someone else’s food choices without being asked. In the example above, I would say that the person who opened the conversation by saying “maybe I need to eat more calories” was inviting discussion and the friend responded. If someone had just said “I’m training for marathon” and another friend responded “Well, you’re not eating enough – you need to order some bacon and stay away from that crap food that you eat blah blah blah” I would say that they crossed the line. This is also a “Your Mileage May Vary” kind of situation and depends on the people involved and the relationships and agreements they have, and I would caution against using caring about someone as a good reason to food police (I’m not suggesting you did, this is a general comment), I think that unless the person invites the discussion it’s probably not appropriate.

      I’m really interested to see what others think as well!


      1. I have a number of food allergies, as well as some severe, life threatening reactions to prescription drugs. I also have diabetes, a couple of chronic pain conditions and an as yet undiagnosed neurological problem Ok then, I don’t want to take any more meds than absolutely necessary, research reveled that a ketogenic diet would be my best bet. So for me, a lot of the commenting on this thread have been food policing. (A Ketogenic diet is very low carb, high fat) It is like the time I was talking recipes with some friends and I mentioned making pulled pork enchiladas and one of the gals gasped “I am shocked! Shocked you would eat pork, it is sooo bad for you!” I got mad and told her that she has no idea what I have been through to determine what I should and should not eat and why, the hundreds of dollars in testing supplies, the endless blood work, the illness when I made the wrong choice etc. So yeah, I am sensitive on the subject. I would not have cared if she had said she preferred beef or chicken or spinach, I may have even asked for her recipe. But being chastised, or called a freak or a weirdo because I follow a specific diet is hurtful. Oh and by the way, my current Dr thinks this is really working for me.

        1. I think you’re mostly talking about one of my comments? FWIW, based on your description of your decisions and your diet, I would not describe you as “a freak” or “freaking out”–similar-sounding phrases, but quite different definitions–“freaking out” is synonymous with “panicking” to me. [I personally have never heard it used in any other way, but maybe you have.] I did not call anyone a freak or a weirdo. The paleo people I was thinking of are kind of the opposite of weirdos, in fact–they eat a certain way because it’s the Next Big Thing.

          I believe that there can be good reasons and bad reasons for taking almost any action; sorry that I didn’t distinguish between the more trend-following, my-way-is-the-one-true-way-for-everyone paleo people and ones like you when writing my comment. But, while I can see why you found my comment insulting, IMO I wasn’t food-policing even “those other” paleo people; I don’t care what they eat, I just think they are wrong about how big an effect eating grains vs. not eating grains will have on the average person’s health. It’s mostly a reaction to their food-policing of other people and their arguments trying to “convert” other people. I think they’re overreacting–IOW, panicking.

          1. Actually I didn’t have a specific comment in mind, just the general tenor of some of the comments. I do eat what a lot of people would call “Paleo” (I don’t) so the comments indicating that individuals who eat that way are following a fad, or are freaking out or are nonsensical feel judgmental and hurtful. Maybe not meant to be, but that is how they affected me. I am sorry you felt attacked by me, I actually found much of what you wrote interesting and informative. I guess my mistake just demonstrates how careful we need to be when expressing ourselves in this kind of medium. Peace.

          2. OK, thanks for clarifying. Yes, on the internet in general, but especially on eating and weight, it’s very easy both to come off as judgmental/critical, and to feel judged/criticized.

  22. I found the “rain” flavors to be the “least” flavored like sweat 😉
    I also really like the “vitamin water zero” flavors…made with stevia (I’m allergic to all other artificial sweetners) and doesn’t make me want to puke the way plain water does.

  23. When I first saw the title of ths piece, I thought it was food pricing. So, hmmm, I suppose there’s a relationship. The cost of eating means we will run into negativity by the unenlightened.

  24. Likely you capitalized Marathon because it was a place, wasn’t it? Wasn’t that where the guy ran from, or to, to report on the battle, and then collapsed dead? In Greece. I’m sure there’s a Wikipedia answer for this, but I’m gonna be all old-school and go with vague recollection.

  25. It is a place in Greece that is the length of the marathon (the race) away from Athens.
    In the Greek Persian war, a Greek soldier had to run from Marathon to Athens to tell Greek commanders to send military back up

    Or.. so they say. Kinda like the Greek version of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
    But anyway it’s the distance from Marathon to Athens.

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