Eat Like Everyone’s Watching?

Reader Jenna sent me this picture. I’m going to write about why it’s total, ridiculous, bullshit.

Eat Like Everyone Is Watching

By way of disclaimer, I’ll say that I have a disconnect with the source material that this references. The idea that one should “dance like nobody is watching” is completely foreign to me, since, as a dancer, I always want everyone to be watching. But still, I think I can be objective here.

First of all, let me translate this from the original language of “marketing lingo” to the much more familiar language of  “culture that is completely fucked up around food”

Eat Like...Fixed!

It may be a bit of stunner, but the only reason we would eat differently when “everyone” (or anyone!) is watching is because we live in a culture that is so fucked up around food that we can’t be comfortable with our food choices. In a culture where every person has access to the types and amounts of food that they want to eat, and access to true and non-biased information about food, and where personal decisions about food are respected as they should be, a food company could not guilt people into eating their bread by suggesting that they should fear that someone might find out that they are eating bread with corn syrup in it and call Pie-1-1 to summon the Food Police.

Now is the point at which someone is going to scroll right to the comments and go into a diatribe about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup.  Don’t bother because…wait for it…it. does. not. matter. Everyone who has found their way to this blog can also find their way to Google and make their own decisions about what to eat (though some people will not be able to eat what they would choose because of issues stemming from capitalism, including poverty and food insecurity.)

We should also be clear that this bread isn’t “good for” plenty of people for many different reasons, and being constantly ignored and overlooked when it comes to marketing kind of sucks. So maybe they could just have said that if you want bread, and have some disposable income, this is a good choice.

Speaking of which, in looking this bread up online the price ranged from $5.78 to $7.99 per loaf. Framing eating this bread as what is required for social acceptability of food choices puts social acceptability out of a lot of people’s reach. It may seem like a small or ridiculous thing but it’s not. Food shaming intersects with poverty shaming all the time, because when it comes to discussions of poverty and hunger, they tend to be co-opted by people who have no personal knowledge of either, but do have an affinity bordering on kink for ordering other people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

As a fat person, this picture basically made me laugh hysterically because it’s pretty common that people ARE watching what I eat, and if I tucked into this sandwich in public it would be on 4 reddit forums and People of Walmart before I could swallow the first artificial-flavor-free bite.

It would be great if, as a culture, we could put the focus on making sure that everyone has access to the foods they want to eat, rather than making sure that everyone is terrified about what other people are thinking about the food they do eat.

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30 thoughts on “Eat Like Everyone’s Watching?

  1. I had to laugh because that’s the bread my family used to eat all the time, before the price went up yet again and they started putting little annoying crunchy sharp-edged things on top of it.

    Now I make my own bread, in a used bread machine that somebody gave me. I downloaded the manufacturer’s cookbook off a fan site (yes, old bread machines have fandoms) and bought four other bread machine cookbooks for a few dollars each at a library book sale. Chew on that, Bimbo Bakeries USA. (They’ve owned Oroweat, and a bunch of “competing” brands, for years.)

    1. Jennifer, you may motivate me to go get a bread machine! We’ve toyed with the idea for a while. What model do you have, and do you love it, and does it make a loaf that’s a good size for sandwiches? Because you know some bread machines make those weirdly shaped loaves, and with kids in school, I fix a ton of sandwiches.

      1. It’s a Magic Chef CBM-310. I have no idea how old it is; there’s no date in the manual that I can see and Appliance411’s serial number lookup service doesn’t have this model. It makes 1.5 lb. loaves very close to the big, pillowy Oroweat shape, although even the light crust setting is crustier than bread off a truck. Two slices make a BIG sandwich. Machines are fairly easy to find at thrift stores and garage sales, and brand new parts are still available online. I’ve tried about 15 different recipes from general bread machine cookbooks in it, and all but one of them worked perfectly.

        I make bread an average of twice a week. But since I was recently diagnosed with gallstones, I’m going to be using it a lot more often.

        BTW, lots of authorities have lots of different ideas about how to take care of yourself so your gallstones don’t get worse. In case anybody else out there is struggling through the underbrush of “OMG you must get thin” and “XYZ foods are evil, EVIL I tell ya,” here’s what I came up with after a lot of study and exasperation. So far, it’s working.

        1. Gallstones aren’t always related to saturated fat intake. Sometimes they’re pigments from your blood, or something like that, and diet won’t stop them from getting bigger. Which sucks, and as far as I know there’s no way to diagnose it without surgery. Also, if you have one ginormous gallstone instead of a bunch of little ones, surgery is a lot more likely. So keep in touch with a fat-friendly doctor and don’t dismiss symptoms of a flareup.

        2. Any fat that is solid at room temperature will probably make your gallstones worse by making them bigger and also by causing your gall bladder to do its thing, incidentally shifting your gallstones around (ow). The only exception is, for a reason too long for this post, the fat of fish (as in actual piscine fish). So change your diet to emphasize fats other than these. Although saturated fat in general does cause your gallbladder to become more active, liquid fats with a saturated component generally show up in foods that also slow down your digestion so your g.b. isn’t working away like, well, a bread machine. Just don’t expect to be able to, like, deep fry things anymore, or enjoy bagna cauda. 😦 Or chocolate, except cocoa powder.

        3. Anything that hustles your pancreas also makes your gallbladder very active. So follow the general guidelines for diabetics: regular meals, stuff that takes longer to digest (whole grains and potatoes with their skins) vs. finely ground/sieved flours and starches, and limit added sugar. One source says that while male-bodied persons can get away with more, us female-bodied folks should stick to 40 grams a day. That’s 5 teaspoons of white sugar.

        4. This one, which I’ve seen in most of the mainstream sources, made me laugh: Rapid weight loss is actually bad for your gallstones.

        So far I’m…well, I’m okay. Making whole grain bread with olive oil turns out to be pretty easy; I was always afraid that I would glop too much in, but somebody clued me in about measuring into a tablespoon held over a cup. Because chips and crackers and such are iffy now, I’m enjoying fresh, warm bread a lot more. I still get raving cravings for fat, so I’m doing what my doctor calls “experimenting.” That is, finding out how much of a food on the potential trouble list I can eat without symptoms, i.e., godawful pain. I don’t actually like playing Russian roulette with my pain that way, but sometimes I gotta have some cheese! I’ve had some twinges, but found out that I do have a safe level–lower than what I would like, but not zero.

        Anyway, hope this helps somebody.

        1. Although I still eat plenty of dairy, because I love it, I’m trying to vary what I eat and not always have dairy be my “go to” food. I’ve found that bean dishes and nuts, especially macadamia nuts (which, unfortunately, are expensive) are often good for cheese cravings. Split pea soup, peanut butter and hummus all fit into the almost-as-good-as-cheese category. Also avocado and/or nutritional yeast (which tastes somewhat like parmesan) on toast with a little oil.

    2. This may be off-topic, so feel free to delete, if necessary, but the post about the home-made bread reminded me.

      When I first left home, I made my own bread, because it was cheapest that way (Spend $50 buying in bulk, and then live the next three months on $10 a week for groceries – yep! That was my life in the early 90’s.)

      Anyway, this is my go-to don’t need a machine bread recipe:

      90-Minute Bread:

      4 cups warm (not hot!) water
      4 teaspoons salt
      8 Tablespoons sugar
      4 Tablespoons yeast
      4 Tablespoons shortening or vegetable oil (you can use butter)
      Flour (No, the recipe doesn’t say how much. The person who gave it to me did not measure. Go figure)

      Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, then add sugar, salt and shortening or oil. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, until yeast bubbles. Stir.

      Mix in enough flour (I used half white and half wheat) for kneadable dough (See? No measuring. You just sort of go for what works for you, and how well you can knead it. The consistency will change, based on how well you can knead it, I suppose, so you know, experiment, and find what you like, then write down that measurement for your own use).

      Knead for 8-10 minutes or until bubbles form under the skin (of the dough, not your skin! Haha!)

      Place dough back in bowl and let rest for 5-10 minutes, while you clean up.

      Divide dough into 3-4 loaves, or 8-10 rolls, or balls of dough to make mini-meat-pies, or what-have you. This bread dough is versatile, so again, experiment, and find what works for you and your kitchen.

      Put the dough in a warm place, such as the oven with the pilot light on stove, or in an unheated oven. Cover with a dish towel or fancy silver dome.

      Let raise for half an hour, or a bit more, if you have time.

      Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. NO pre-heating necessary.

      Variation: First measure the oil, and then you can measure sticky honey. Use 4 Tablespoons honey and 4 Tablespoons sugar, instead of all 8 Tablespoons sugar.

      Experiment with types of flour. Some will be heavier and won’t form “loaves,” so much as logs, but they make for very sturdy meat-holders. Use all white flour for more fluffy bread, although this recipe will never be as fluffy as store-bought white bread, because that requires multiple rises. This makes a sturdy bread, even at it’s lightest.

      I particularly like this bread for making mini meat pies. Just make your meat filling (I like ground beef mixed with sautéed onion, diced potatoes and some egg to make it sticky). Take a ball of bread dough, and flatten it on your hand, stick a heaping Tablespoon-ful of meat filling in the center, and then wrap the dough around the filling, pinching it closed, but leaving a little vent in the top. Bake as normal – 30 minutes, 400 degrees. Yummy and convenient for lunches.

      I know I had other bread recipes, but frankly, I don’t think I ever bothered to use them. They all required too much time to raise the dough, pound it down, and raise it again, and I was too busy for that. This one is nice, because you basically “set it and forget it” ONCE, and then whenever you’re ready to come back to the risen dough, you use it. You only need to let it rise for 30 minutes, so good for a time-crunch, but if you let it rise for a few hours, instead, that’s fine, too.

      The wonderful thing about bread machines is that they will knead the dough for you, and do the pounding back down and re-rising that most bread doughs require. If you don’t have a machine, keeping track of the rises, and coming back to pound them down, can be problematic. You have to be on-hand again and again, with only short breaks, that doesn’t work for most students. If I had a bread machine, I’d program in those fancy multiple-rising recipes, though. Delicious! But for a poor person, who is busy, this recipe works quite well.

      I remember, I had planned to have a once-a-week baking day, but I wound up with two, because I ran out of bread so fast. The neighbors always smelled the delicious aroma, and came around to visit. And I STILL wound up saving money over store-bought bread, even with the double batches!

      Of course, this was before Atkins, so I was “good fatty” by cooking my own food. Nowadays, you’ll get a ton of hatred for consuming all those carbs! Don’t you know you’re supposed to pay $8 for a single loaf of high-fiber, no-calorie cardboard bread?

      1. I have chronic pain that makes kneading difficult and a kitchen that, seriously, has enough room for a bread machine but not kneading dough, so I can’t do most homemade bread–but there’s this wonderful soft roll recipe in my Joy of Cooking that you make in a mixing bowl with a spoon, throw in the fridge for a few hours, then splop into muffin cups, let rise, and bake. It really requires butter, so I can’t eat it anymore, but the rest of the fam just loves it.

        1. Sounds fantastic! I love soft rolls, but rarely get them. I went to Amazon to buy The Joy of Cooking, but there are several editions. Any idea which edition I should get?

          I also have chronic pain that makes kneading difficult, and I still don’t have a bread machine, so any way to get fresh bread is worthwhile to me.

          1. I have the one from the ’90s with the tapas and the details about beans. The funny thing is, these rolls are supposed to make a dough that you can handle with your fingers–but all I ever get is glop! But they’re delicious anyway.

            So I had the time to sit down with the book, finally. Here’s my paraphrase:

            You need a mixing bowl and wooden spoon, a small bowl, the usual measuring cups and spoons, and 15 muffin tins.

            In the small bowl, combine 1/4 cup warm water and 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast. Let stand until dissolved. Meanwhile, take half a stick of softened butter or 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 1/4 tsp salt. Put in the large bowl and pour 1 cup hot water over them. Stir until everything is melted and mixed, then let cool until lukewarm.

            Pour the yeast mixture into the butter mixture. Beat in 1 egg. Stir in 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour a bit at a time. What you get should be like a very thick batter or extra-gooey dough. Add more flour a spoonful at a time, if needed. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 to 12 hours.

            Uncover and slap with the spoon to “punch” it down. Now grease the muffin tins and splop roughly equal portions of the dough into each one. Let rise until about doubled in volume–about 45 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees F until golden. Start checking at 12 minutes. Cool on a rack.

            Variation: You can replace up to 1 cup of the flour with whole wheat flour. The rolls won’t be quite as soft and luscious, but they will be more filling.

            1. Oh, I forgot! To get the rolls to be more like his mom’s, my husband asked me to rub the tops of the rolls very lightly with a stick of butter just after they come out of the oven. It does take them to the next level!

  2. The store I work in carries Bimbo’s Oroweat stuff— I think we have a deal with them to only carry their stuff on special, because the only times we have it it’s $2.49.

    That said, I can’t eat it—it contains sunflower seeds to which I am extremely allergic. Healthy for me? NO.

    If I’m in a mood to pay premium for bread, artisan loaves are much denser, more flavorful, and a better texture.

    And I will eat them with LOTS of butter if I want to, and if someone’s watching I might be tempted to loll my tongue, roll my eyes, and make orgasmic noises to piss them off.

    *BTW, Bimbo is named for a character from 1930’s cartoon, not slurs-shaming, but it’s an interesting synchronicity.

  3. Heh. I love that bread. Though, I typically buy bread with more fiber in it these days, as I’m trying to watch blood sugar and fiber helps. But I freely admit to being picky about bread and am totally willing (and able) to spend money on it. I recognize not everyone can buy it or eat it, or want to.

    It’s a clever ad, but it only works because of the way our fucked-up society views food. “Dance like no one is watching” works because most people – obviously not you, Ragen! – has a little anxiety about looking good while dancing. I certainly did and still do to a much lesser extent. I deliberately designed my wedding reception to avoid dancing. Although growing older and hopefully wiser has given me a certain eff it attitude to what others think, there still is a lingering little voice that sometimes speaks. For most people, that little voice is even louder when it comes to food than when it comes to dancing. I’ve over-ordered in restaurants because I want to enjoy the different dishes, and then FELT the judgement. But I still do it, because eff it. I eat alone when I want, and I have a friend who won’t do that because she feels judged even when eating “normal” amounts and kinds of foods. We went to one of her favorite places a couple months back and she commented that she forgot how nice it was inside because when she wants it, she gets take-out and eats at home. Nothing wrong with that, if it is her free choice, but since she feels judged I doubt it is entirely that.

    Eff ’em, and eff this ad for perpetuating it.

    1. I hate that “dance like no one is watching” meme. Even at my “I’m-so-ugly/worthless” worst, I have always, Always, ALWAYS felt absolutely beautiful and gorgeous while dancing.

      If I’m dancing, I jolly well WANT people to be watching!

      Our culture, especially the diet industry part of it, seems to be designed to make people feel as insecure as possible, in as many areas of their lives as possible. Probably because the more ways they can make us feel insecure, the more things they can sell us to “fix” our problems.

      “Buy our X and you, too, can feel confident doing Y in pubic!” It’s like Hateful MadLibs.

  4. Truly bumper sticker worthy. America is so fucked up about food it is, well yes, insane. I just got back from walking down to 7-11, where I bought an uber unhealthy, sugar swarmed, preservatives from hell Zinger pack. I can imagine the thoughts of everyone around me, but I won’t let them scarf their 7-11 pizza, live on 400 calorie coffee thing whatsists, munch snacks all day and then judge me for “unhealthy eating choices”.
    Here was yesterday. (TIP: LASIK is incredibly expensive. You don’t know this till you are ALMOST signed up for the procedure, so glasses app, next week.)
    WE went in, after a round about no signage on location drive, and waited, the very nice receptionist lady took a few jelly beans and engaged in self hate for five minutes discussing how her co-worker is “evil”. “She goes to COSTO and buys these things, jelly bean gallon jar, licorice by the gross etc.” Yes, and then brings them to work where you scarf em telling your self you are a bad person for doing it embarrassed to put candy in your mouth in public.. This woman was one third my size.
    I thought of somethin terrible last night in bed…What if every time a thinner person told a fatter person that there is/was something wrong with so goodie or other they were eating the fat person said…”All it takes is a little willpower.” Not gonna do it, not gonna add to the shaming of food stuffs and personal choices, just a funny, ironic thought. Somewhere, someone’s head would explode over that…

    Don’t ya hate it when you start getting to know someone, you have some stuff in common and enjoy talking to them and think you have made a friend and then they drop the F-bomb. It would be simpler if people just said up front: “Ooh by the way, I am a fat-phobe and we can’t ever reeely be friends because this is a major issue for me and I will always be thinking you would be better off, better looking, a better person, a better friend if there was less of you…

    1. You can thank your lucky stars that this person showed his/her true colors before you really got attached. That’s a good thing.

      i no longer use the word fat-phobe. I just call people what they are: bigots.

      1. I agree the word “fatphobe” is inadequate. I use it because it’s currently the standard term, but does imply fear and hostility this brand of hate does not actually require (though it is rife with both). When I say fatphobia, I’m talking about the belief that thin people are the biological, moral, and cultural superiors of fat people, and that subsequently, thin people should have all the real power over both private and public matters lest the fatty, in its animal-brained and inherently self-destructive simplicity, walk itself off a cliff. This attitude CAN manifest itself as the violent fatphobe who gathers like-minded friends to attack innocent fat strangers on the street and online, but it ALSO manifests itself as the wife who “gently” “teases” her husband about his “beer gut,” as the doctor who “just knows” without doing any tests that his patient is coughing up blood because she’s fat and that it will go away if she loses some weight, as the aunt who asks her nephew at the family reunion if he’s really sure he really meant to choose the foods he did, as the rubbernecker who tells a fat jogger she must quit jogging and take up something more appropriate for her station… I mean knees. The connecting factor in all these seemingly-different situations is an assumption of superiority and authority the speaker would not be making if the person they were speaking to were thin. That’s what I mean when I say fatphobia.

  5. I thought the “good cops” liked to at least pretend they’re against bullying people over their food choices. Now we’ve got a photo of an ad insinuating (and not very subtly) those who shame others for their food choices are correct in doing so and that you should let your food choices be dictated by what you think would appease them. Even when they aren’t there breathing down your neck, waiting for you to do something that offends them so they can pounce and tear into you, you should continue to behave as if they were.

    And that’s a sucker bet. Anyone who’s been food-shamed knows there *is* no appeasing a food-shamer. If they can’t find something “wrong” with what you’re eating, they’ll find something wrong with when or how or why you’re eating it, and if they can’t do THAT, they’ll claim you only chose it for show, to fool them, and speculate on how terribly you must’ve eaten that morning and will eat later. Trying to play that stacked game is NOT a way to make good choices for yourself.

    1. “they’ll claim you only chose it for show, to fool them, and speculate on how terribly you must’ve eaten that morning and will eat later. ”

      THIS! OMG! I hate this! And it happens so much!

      “You’re lying! You only claim to be eating a salad, but I know. As soon as you’re out of sight, you’re going to shove a whole cake into your fat mouth and wash it down with a gallon of eeeeevil soda!”

  6. The thought that came into my head when I saw the headline was of a performance piece of people on stage eating all kinds of food in all kinds of ways. It was overall funny, but also had some serious points to make.

    1. I’d pay money to see that, provided they did not have a commentary about fat-hating. Just a silent show of people eating a variety of things in a variety of ways, though? Sounds great!

  7. As a person who was never that coordinated to begin with, and is just getting less coordinated as I get older, and with a very limited income and no clothing budget, I prefer to eat with no one watching, because I like to take my top off, to save on laundry. Especially spaghetti with marinara sauce. That one gets eaten in the nude, whenever possible.

    Just not piping hot fresh from the stove.

    That sandwich looks like it might be juicy. Are there tomatoes in it? Better not let anyone see me eat it, then.

    Ooooooh, wait. This is about people seeing WHAT we eat? Yeah, Eff that noise!

      1. That’s great if they stay in place. But for some reason, I have this long-standing mental block about how it’s “so rude” to tuck a napkin into your neckline (despite the fact that I’ve had a huge rack since before I even started my first period), and you have to do the napkin on the lap thing (as if my spills EVER reach my lap!), so I wind up just spoiling all my tops.

        I really should just do the napkin in the neckline routine. I’d be much more social that way.

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