Me and My Food

HatersToday a reader alerted me to one of the most ridiculous reddit threads about me that I’ve seen (and in a group that includes lively conversations about my gastrointestinal health and bowel movements, that’s saying something.)  The thread is called “What Does Ragen Claim to Eat” and when I looked at it there were 92 comments.  The thing that makes this particularly ridiculous is that the first comment makes it clear that I never talk about what I eat, but the discussion went on for 91 more comments – some wild speculation, some lies, and a random video of a fat woman who isn’t me cooking something thrown in for good measure.

This is a question that I get a lot, from several groups of people:

Sometimes from the trolling “prove it” crowd whose exaggerated sense of self-importance leads them to believe that I owe them a food log.

Sometimes from people who want to know what I eat because they think I’m an example of doing Health at Every Size “right” and they want to do what I do.

Sometimes from people who are genuinely just curious because what they hear about thermodynamics doesn’t agree with what they experience or see.

It doesn’t matter what their intentions are, it’s still not something that I’m going to discuss.  There are plenty of reasons.

The most simple reason is because it’s not anybody’s business and I’m not required to discuss anything ever.  But I do talk about plenty of things that aren’t necessarily anybody’s business, so why don’t I talk about food?

Because it typically leads to food policing which I have no  interest in dealing with, in large part because it just takes away too much time from activism work that I want to do. Sometimes people who don’t have to deal with internet trolls on a daily basis naively think that talking about what I eat will prove something or somehow shut them up. It’s a nice thought, but it’s not how trolls work.

Because I don’t want to take part in our society’s insistence that we make eating into a performance, up to and including subscribing to a code of morality around food that I don’t think is healthy.

Mostly though, it’s because my personal food choices are just that – personal, not political.  They are based on my tastes, my history with food and eating,  my nutritional needs, my access, and my privileges. So are everyone else’s and, as such, I’m not that interested in what other people eat unless they want to share a recipe or a bite of something awesome, or I can help them get access to information or food.  The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not food log dependent.

We each get to make choices about what food we eat (choices that can be limited by our situation, income, access etc.) and those choices shouldn’t be anyone else’s business unless we choose to make them their business.

If you are looking for support around food and food choices from a Body Positive, Health at Every Size Perspective, there are lots of professionals to choose from, Golda at Body Love Wellness, Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist, and Soolman Nutrition and Wellness are a good place to start that work with people using online programs. (I’m sure I’m missing some great folks, please feel to leave them in the comments as long as you are SURE that they are from a FA/HAES perspective).

I think that when it comes to nutrition we should confine ourselves to making decisions for ourselves and, if we are interested in helping others then we can work to make sure that people have access to neutral, unbiased information and access to the foods that they would choose to eat.  And while we’re at it, we can work to dismantle our culture’s messed up messages about food.

Alternately, if you want to spend your time wildly speculating about what I eat, there’s always reddit…

What does Ragen Chastain Claim to Eat




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35 thoughts on “Me and My Food

  1. jeez, just searched “Ragen” in reddit. Can’t believe what came up. A lot of people there need to get a life.

    Anyway, thanks for your work. It’s inspiring. I totally agree with you on the “food question”: My body, my choice. End of story.

  2. It amazes me that there are people in this world who are so concerned with what other people eat or do in their personal lives that they sit on the sidelines and speculate like this in online posts. Don’t they have jobs? Places to be? Family members to visit with or love? Lives? Apparently not. And God help anyone who is actually unlucky enough to be related to these trolls or have to work with them. They probably put their own family members and coworkers through hell with their awful, judgmental behavior. Come to think of it, that’s probably why they have so much free time…they probably have no friends or family who want to come around them, and they can’t hold a job because everyone f’ing hates them. You really have to feel sorry for them when you realize that criticizing others online is their main source of entertainment and outreach to the world. So sad. All the thin in the world won’t change their lives for the better because they hate themselves most of all. Therapy anyone?

      1. We live in a culture that encourages people to think that everyone elses’s bodies and behaviors are our business. We live in a culture that encourages “concern trolling” (hey, if they can get our family and friends and even strangers to concern troll, they don’t have to work so hard selling us the “cure”). This kind of behavior can be very easily learned by anyone who is even slightly susceptible to suggestion and who consumes popular culture media. 30 years ago I would have agreed with you about them learning it from family, but in this day and age, it’s encouraged and learned from everywhere, in just about every form of popular media.

        1. I didn’t mean to imply that it’s the only place they learn it. What I meant was that it’s still very much a possibility that families can promote these same horrible ideals. I am acquainted with several families where it’s just the norm to be that invasively involved in each others’ and even outsiders’ choices.

    1. They’re so indoctrinated in Fat Jail culture and the media obsession with celebrity scandal that they have to conflate the two in order to justify their places in society. After all, only the freak shows they heckle would dare turn their backs on the mainstream.

  3. I’m sorry, this is so ridiculous to imagine, it’s *almost* funny. People you don’t even know who are that interested in what you eat? It just strikes me as so bizarre!!!! It sounds like these people really need to develop a more interesting hobby.

  4. I just… cannot even fathom what is WRONG with these people. On the one hand, I actually feel sorry for them. To be so consumed by fear and hatred that you literally WASTE your lives doing this sort of shit… I can’t even imagine what it must be like to live that way. And all because someone dares to say her fat body deserves respect? I mean, wow.

    On the other hand, hatred and venom and behavior like this cannot simply be tolerated or dismissed as “well, they are clearly sad, pathetic, sickos.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what is wrong in their lives to make them act this way… to me this sort of behavior is not acceptable, no matter what the root causes.

    I’m really disgusted by one comment in the thread where someone talked about your “addiction” and how sad it is, and a responder told him “yeah, at least you look cool doing drugs and alcohol.”

    They really shouldn’t give me 10 minutes between comments… it’s just giving me more time to carefully phrase how I tear that one to shreds.

    1. Is it wrong that, on picturing someone with meth mouth compared to someone with Ho-Ho mouth, I lol’ed? Not making fun of meth mouth, but dude. Really. Have these people never left their rooms??

  5. What a bizarre world these people live in. I would love to understand how they understand the concept of personal sovereignty. If someone treated them the same way, I can only imagine the extreme levels of outrage they could produce. This kind of thinking is suborned by a sense of entitlement which I see so rampant in our current culture. Or maybe it’s just plain narcissism.

  6. Well- for what it’s worth – I think it’s an extension of the dieting world’s exhortations to share what you eat – either to shame yourself into eating less or to shame other people by how little you’ve eating. So now people think they have the right to know what any given person is eating. God knows in my family, what I eat is constantly up for discussion as far as my mother is concerned – well I say discussion, I mean judgement – and she can’t see what’s wrong with it. Somehow a ‘lack of shame’ should equal a ‘willingness to discuss in any and all situations’. I tried correlating that with my sex life (no lack of shame there, but a definite unwillingness to discuss anywhere cept with my darling husband…..) but she just doesn’t get what I’m trying to say.

    So all over facebook, I have friends outlining how little they’ve eaten in any given day, or photos of the supposedly gorgeous food they’re eating or something like that………and I guess that the general population has this feeling that what we eat should be public knowledge, or worse public property. So when someone stands up and says, well no, I’m not doing that – it’s a huge ‘issue’ cos there has to be something wrong if you’re hiding it, right? If you don’t want to share, it means you’re ashamed…..The whole thing about sharing food has been normalised to the point where you have to write posts like this on and explain why you don’t share what you eat, when really – why is that anyone else’s business? Just like your sex life is your own business….

  7. I find myself wavering between the urge to point and laugh at people who have so little to think about that they obsess about a complete stranger’s food choices and bowel movements and a William Shatneresque desire to shout at these people “Get a life!”

    This right here is the dictionary definition of ‘pathetic.’

  8. Pfft, they couldn’t handle the truth. Ragen lives on Chuck Norris’s tears, and she’s the only person who can make him cry.

  9. I feel like this might be the modern version of celebrity, that you have reddit feed(s) devoted to you.

    Thank you for the reminder that one’s food decisions are one’s own, and do not have to be reported to one’s children, parents or any other “concerned” party.

    1. Dude, I thought your image was a doughnut. Now I want a doughnut.

      I’m sorry, but I chuckled when I read the title of that thread. No disrespect intended, but it is just so, so juvenile. Back in HS, I had this friend, and the two of us were friends with this other girl who was kind of stuck on herself…so each day we exchanged notes on how much we couldn’t stand her, what she was wearing, what she said, etc. Absolutely ridiculous. But I was 15 years old and had nothing better to do. Seriously, I was THAT bored. I found the notes when I moved and thought, “WTF what I thinking?? Good God, I hope no one ever sees this…”

      The point being…I was deeply ashamed of my pettiness. These people never will be. And they will breed. I admire your restraint, Ragen. I’d be so tempted to chum the waters.

      1. “And they will breed.”

        OH Goodness, I sure hope not! That’s a nightmare thought. On the other hand, reading what they are saying and realizing what kind of people they must be, I have a hard time even believing that they would find someone to put up with them long enough to breed with.

      2. And as to the note passing in high school, most people go through that stage, as I’m sure you know. It’s partly developmental but I think it’s also partly that in public school it’s harder to break off a friendship that’s not working out. Teenagers are a bit extra sensitive and they don’t yet have the skills to assert themselves, plus when you go to school with someone and stop being friends with them you’ll still see them everyday. In adulthood it’s a bit easier as people who don’t get along so well often naturally drift apart. But in junior high and high school, that’s not really an option, so instead you vent about the person.
        In any case, none of this applies to the Reddit folks. They don’t even know Ragen, they don’t have to interact with her, and nothing she’s saying or doing actually affects them in any way. So when you combine that with the fact that many of them are full-fledged adults, it’s much worse.

  10. I am absolutely appalled that people can be so intrusive. I love your attitude about that ridiculous reddit blog. It is simply amazing that these people have nothing better to do than nose about in your personal business. I truly believe in personal autonomy and cannot conceive of how controlling these people are with their snarky comments. I hate control freaks and believe that trolls are the worst kind. Of course you do not have to talk about what you eat, or why you do this or that, it is no ones business. Thank you for being such an inspiring teacher, and keep smiling- the trolls just hate that!

  11. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, if those trolls were to take even a fraction of the time and energy they use in trolling and do something positive, there would probably be a lot of problems solved. Such as poverty, illiteracy, overpopulation, etc.

    But alas, their parents failed to instill in them anything resembling the ability to even think, much less the ability to stop trying to tell other people how to live their lives. I guess it is easier for them to be douchecanoes than actual caring human beings.

  12. STILL have no interest in Reddit. If there are cool people over there why they’re not worried about getting cooties from this lot I’ll never know.

  13. I was explaining this to my mother who has been hounding me about losing weight because the 5 meds I was on at once damaged my liver. Even if I wrote a food log and had it notarized, it still wouldn’t be believed. Even if the doctor spent every moment with me, he wouldn’t believe it. This was as I could only eat two chicken wings and 4 pieces of carrot during lunch. She knows how little I eat because of my Crohn’s disease. She sees it every day, and yet, she still thinks I should lower my calorie intake to be worthy of medical care. It’s mindboggling.

    1. Crohn’s is a motherf*cker, and I’m so, so sorry you have to deal with it. It nearly killed my BIL 20 years ago, and now his daughter, my beautiful niece, has it. I don’t think anyone has a right to say boo about what you eat when you have to deal with that nightmare every. fecking. second.

      1. I keep it under control with a strict yeast free diet, but it still impacts my intake… as does having to avoid everything that has ever touched yeast.

        1. Do you have issues with environmental yeasts? I’ve never gotten a clear answer on whether it’s even possible.

          Much sympathy, btw. I’m gluten and dairy sensitive in some poorly understood, gut-related, autoimmune way. Not dairy-free right now, long story, but removing gluten from my diet has gone straight to my thymus. (In other words, I’m down from 6-12 respiratory infections a year, and near-constant yeast infections due to a compromised immune system, to 3-4.) When I’m in a position to eliminate most dairy, I’ll hopefully get it down even further.

          1. I do. I have a lot of skin issues and they are all cured when my immune system is calmed by steroids, which is consistent with my intestines response to steroids.

    2. I was reading the wiki entry for Crohn’s (can’t recall how I got there) and I was thinking how the symptoms of this match several of my complaints. I feel better when avoiding bread, veggies, and most plant matter. If I eat meat all day for several days in a row, the symptoms go away. I tried this a few times and it was a relief to not have pain in the knees or have every joint pop and crackle.

      If I increase veggies or have salad (I buy those kits, and just eat the whole thing) my knuckles crack. My mom hates it (the cracking). It also aggravates my “rice krispie” knee.

      Mine doesn’t seem as near bad as you, and I have yet to find a new doctor. I feel like it’ll be a standard 2 min. appt. and I won’t get any issues discussed.

      1. Remember Ragen’s comment that you are the CEO of your own health care. You have the right to say, “I need you to really listen to what I’m telling you. If you can’t, I’ll find another doctor who will.” You have the right to demand the care for which you’re paying. Good luck!

  14. Here is my take. Food and how much, little and what you eat, should be non factors.

    Now if you run a food blog that is different, I can see you taking about food there, just leave out the dieting/weight loss stuff and focus on the food. So many good food blogs were ruined for me that way.

    If you are in a group of people like friends or family you love but don’t see often I can get behind saying something along the lines of “If you are ever in the area again for a longer stay, we should go to X it is a really great local place!” or “Oh if you are allergic to X or intolerant to X try this place they offer X free food!”

    Those are really the only times I can get behind actually talking about food.

  15. I would be interested in what you eat.

    I love talking about food. Good restaurants; favourite recipes. What to do with this new-fangled quinoa-chia-goji-trendy stuff; and how vile that one new brand of low-fat yoghurt is. What I ate on holiday, and where can I buy that amazing spice, and which of those weird Japanese/Thai/Mexican snacks are awesome or horrible.

    But I understand that this might be a good topic for you to keep well away from the trolls. Also I understand that it’s my interest, and you don’t write your blog specially for me.

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