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30 December 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Are You (or Someone you Know) a Health Snob?

Do your workout friends (over) share their views on the “right way” to live/eat/workout?   Are they critical of your and others’ choices of food/exercise/lack of exercise etc?   Does this describe you? And the question is are they, and you, driven by real concern for the person being proselytized to, or is it something else?  It is worth taking a closer look.

  • “People often project onto others how they feel about themselves”, says clinical psychotherapist Leslie Seppinni, Psy.D.  “If they’ve struggled with something, they can be more likely to judge, be openly critical, or even become outraged, by the choices of others.”

Does this seem familiar – you reach for a cookie/chocolate at a gathering, and instinctively feel judged by the friend who is also at the event and who very vocally decried the selection of food and treats on display?  Or perhaps you are the one who rather disdainfully turned down almost every item offered to you?   Seppinni cautions that it is often the fear of reverting to a former state that drives some people to react in this way.  A formerly obese person is afraid of slipping backward and getting fat again; and we all have stories of the behavior of the reformed smoker!

  • Other preachy health elitists are simply rigid, according to Irene S. Levine, Ph. D., a psychiatrist at New York University school of Medicine.  “They see the world in absolutes:  Either you follow the program or you don’t.”  

You likely know, or know of, the person for whom “all things in moderation” is unthinkable – whether it is exercise or food choices.  The slippery slope is that rigidity in one’s diet can lead to unhealthy relationships with food and eventually eating disorders.

It is not just about food that we encounter the well-meaning/“holier than thou” critic.  You are excited about the Zumba classes you recently discovered and it has managed to get you exercising regularly, so you share this success with your ultra-fit friend.  The patronizing response that you really need to do weights, or that she did Zumba so much last year and now finds it boring, is enough to make you give up the classes or the friendship.  Of course you are given a lesson in what the latest perfect exercise routine is, and of course doing it all barefoot is de rigor these days.

If you’ve encountered and are irked by any of these types of “friendly interferences”, you may want to ask yourself if you have ever been judgmental in the same way;  felt superior watching a friend put full fat milk in her latte as you used 0% fat milk; or smugly signed up for the extreme bootcamp class as your friend selected the yoga class; and in both cases commented on your choice as the better one and why! 

If you see yourself in the role of the tormentor – then vow in the New Year to reverse your “clean-living classism” and keep your opinions to yourself unless you are genuinely concerned about someone’s heath and well-being.

Remember:  Kama has a way of always putting you back in your place!

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