judging other people's food choices

Food Choices Are Not a Moral Issue

judging other people's food choices

Written by Mandi Ehman, Guest Writer

Even the staunchest real-food advocates among us have probably experienced it at one time or another…the glare – virtual or in person – of someone who disagrees with an “inferior” choice we’re making.

The current food culture in our country – as so many of us push back against the standard American diet (SAD) and discover how processed foods and inferior ingredients affect our bodies – is a really good thing, but it can also manifest itself in a rigid and judgmental attitude toward other people who aren’t making the same decisions as us.

As someone who is taking baby steps toward a whole foods diet (through reading labels, cooking more from scratch and avoiding processed sugar), I’ve often felt this judgment from other people. (Some of that has certainly been based only on my perception and not reality, but we all know that the judgment really does exist.) As our family is taking bigger steps now, I am determined that no one will feel that same judgment from me.

Food Choices Are Not a Moral Issue

I recently read this quote, which has quickly become one of my favorites:

“A culture that redefines food choices as moral issues will demonize the people who don’t share the tastes of the priest class. A culture that elevates eating to some holistic act of ethical self-definition – localvore, low-carbon-impact food, fair trade, artisanal cheese – will find the casual carefree choices of the less-enlightened as an affront to their belief system. Leave it to Americans to invent a Puritan strain of Epicurianism.”

There are certainly moral issues around food – including the lack of food for many people around the world, living out our convictions through the food we buy and serve other people, sharing the things we know with other people in an informative, non-judgemental way, and so on.

The issue, though, comes when we start to judge other people based on the food choices they’re making for themselves and their families.

We assume that because we’ve been convicted of something, they should have been too, and therefore they’re making “inferior” choices out of laziness or, if they say they can’t afford to eat better, because of poor financial management.

Understanding the Other Person’s Perspective

The thing that I think is easy to forget is how overwhelming it is to go against the stream when you’ve grown up eating processed food. Our whole lives, we’ve been taught that it’s convenient! And manufactured to have all the nutrients you need! And affordable!

There are many reasons people may not be willing or able to push back against that agenda and evaluate their food choices in their current circumstances:

  • A lack of kitchen skills or confidence.
  • A focus on making ends meet and being able to put any food on the table.
  • Being stretched by work and home responsibilities.
  • A bad experience with past attempts to improve their diet.
  • Confusion caused by conflicting information

I love this quote from the June 17th entry in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, which I think fits this conversation perfectly: “Stop having a measuring rod for other people. There is always one more fact in every man’s case about which we know nothing.”

Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, many families may be focused simply on surviving; making the best food choices for long-term health isn’t even on their radar. And remember, even if you can see how they could cut their budget or better spend their time to make healthy food choices, that doesn’t mean that they’re in a place where they feel like they want to or can do those things.

Respecting Their Right to Disagree

In some cases, someone may have read all the same literature as you and simply disagree. (Hey, it’s possible.) Thankfully, the Bible addresses this one fairly plainly:

In 1 Corinthians, Paul addresses a controversy among the Corinthian believers about whether it is permissible to eat meat that has been offered to idols. He says in 8:1: “We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” Later, in verse 8, he goes on to say, “But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.”

We will likely never all agree about food choices, and while it is great to build a network of people who do view food and other lifestyle choices the same way you do, we also need to get along with those who are eating foods we disagree with…without being arrogant or judgmental in our interactions.
judging other people's food choices

image by Annie Mole

Be an Encouragement to Those Around You

I can tell you that the biggest single factor affecting our food choices now is a relationship with an older mom in our homeschool group, the internet research I’ve done over the past four or five years notwithstanding. She follows many Nourishing Traditions principles, sticking primarily to locally grown whole foods, and I have been inspired just by being around her and talking food with her without feeling judged. She gladly shares the things she does – as well as things she’s still learning – but freely admits that their family occasionally runs through the McDonald’s drive-thru.

Her life has been such an example of grace – making good choices without allowing them to get in the way of relationships or become rigid rules that take the joy out of food and eating – that I’ve learned that I can approach this journey in my own time and my own way without trying to live up to someone else’s standards or avoid their critical eye. And rather than leading to a standstill, that’s motivated me to move forward even more quickly.

When we judge another person’s food choice – even if we do it silently – it begins to build a wall between us, and we miss out not only on the opportunity to share what we know but also the opportunity to learn from their strengths and experiences.

Practical Ways to Encourage Others

Practically speaking, how do you handle social events and get-togethers with grace and not judgment, but without sacrificing our own convictions? Here are some strategies to get you started, but mostly, just love people for who they are and don’t worry about trying to change them!

  • If appropriate, bring your own food. (Oftentimes, the stranger, the better, since it invites people to ask questions and opens up conversation.)
  • Invite people to your home. In this case, it might be best to avoid the strangest offerings (kombucha?!) in favor of healthier variations of popular foods that are sure to entice their taste buds.
  • Be willing to eat the food that other people serve unless you truly have a good allergy. Even if it’s not the “best”, accepting some of it – even a smaller portion – is much better than turning up your nose at it.
  • Be open about your family’s food choices without judging theirs. If people know you are making healthier choices – and that you’re a safe person to talk to – they’re much more likely to ask you questions so that you can encourage them on their own journey.

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is to continue to make what you feel are the best choices for your family without worrying about the choices other people are making. Most importantly, consider relationships with people more important than their food choices!

Have you felt judged for your food choices? Or struggled with judging others? How do you practically put relationships above food choices?

top image by cell105

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  1. Thanks for this fresh word. A great reminder of the humility with which to approach this, and other “close to home” issues. We’ve experienced the “being looked down on”, and I’m sure we’ve probably made someone feel silly for their food choices as well. I hope to read AJ Jacobs new book “Drop Dead Healthy” soon….I’m sure he covers this topic in a comedic and fresh way also. 🙂

  2. Mandi, I love this post. You’ve put it so perfectly – I love your Bible references. 🙂

    “So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.” Hebrews 13:9

    Everything must be done in love – otherwise it falls on a deaf ear.

  3. Our food choices are a moral issue! It is Godly to put Godly foods into our bodies and it is not Godly to put foods in our body that are not worthy of Him. We are his temples and ought to put His food into our bodies. But, there’s never a question when it comes to charity. This is the key!!! Charity must reign, reign, reign, and sometimes we become over zealous. We need to accept people where they are, and share this dimension of our faith as well. 🙂

  4. Amen and amen. This reminds me of the Stacy Makes Cents post, “Food is Not Your God.”

    Thank you, Mandi, for this list of practical ways to love our neighbor. It brought to mind a couple things that I have done that may have made others feel judged – even though I had no intention of doing so.

  5. Oh yes…..most of my family does not want to eat healthy or their idea of healthy meals is very different from mine. We are mostly retired but often share meals. I have learned to cook a healthy meal in a way that looks like the old favorite…..sneaky huh? I even put it in Moms old pan. I have them thinking of ‘home’ before the first bite.

    Its taken me 70 years to get to this way of eating. I think exposure to good healthy food can change minds.

  6. This is so true, and so necessary to remember. I never want to make anyone feel like they are inferior because of their food choices, though I have definitely failed in that before. In view of eternity, food choices aren’t the main idea.

  7. Thank you for your post. OH, yes. I get frustrated when people get high and mighty about food, on either side of the issue. I know first hand how personal food is, although I got it from the opposite side. I was vegan for several years and full vegetarian for several years more. I made a huge effort to not get on my soapbox, to never discuss my eating choices while any of us were eating, and really, felt fine if others had no interest in being vegetarian. But, oh, man. I would be asked why I’m not eating something and the moment I said, “Oh, I’m vegetarian” or even just “I don’t eat meat,” I got near violent reactions. That’s not an exaggeration. The worst was actually at church, this guy crawled across the table and got in my face yelling at me, when the only words that had come out of my mouth were, “I’m vegetarian.” I think it’s important on all sides to be loving towards those around us. I do think there is a bit of a double standard in which it is socially accepted to make comments about someone who is eating healthier, “too skinny,” exercising, etc. in order for the other person to feel better about themselves, but we are not socially allowed to have a lovingly concerned conversation with someone if they smoke, or are so morbidly obese they are literally killing themselves with food and lack of exercise. I think it’s a delicate balance. In my experience, I’ve found that the following work great in keeping the peace: 1. Refrain from getting on your soapbox about food, especially over food. 2. Avoid labeling yourself or your eating – it shuts people out (and helps them justify not listening to you). 3. Just make your food choices without making a fuss, and people will notice and will start asking questions if they are actually curious, in which case you can then have a conversation based on love and acceptance of each other regardless of personal beliefs or food preference, based on sharing rather than trying to convince. My 2 cents. (or maybe 10 cents.)

  8. What a fantastic post! I was so blessed to have a friend who encouraged me in my journey without ever once being judgmental. Now that I’ve made a lot of changes in our diet and lifestyle, when I find myself going down that road, I think of her encouragement for me and do my best to encourage others in the same vein. Everyone is on different roads and at different points on those roads.

  9. Thank you so much for writing this — it’s SO true, and I myself have certainly been guilty of food judgment in the past.

    The biggest thing I struggle with now is being judgmental against overweight people, since I have lost almost 100 pounds. It’s ironic, considering I myself was severely obese at one point, and yet now (less than a year later) I find myself thinking negative thoughts about others who are in a similar pre-weight-loss-Amy condition. I feel so guilty, and am really working to conquer these sinful thoughts through lots of prayer.

    It’s so important, on non-essential spiritual matters, to offer lots and lots of leeway and grace to others who may not feel the same way we do about a matter, especially something like food.

  10. I’m not sure I completely agree. When there is abundant information available about at least the most basic issues, I find it neglectful(at best) when a parent buys their already overweight child a Big Gulp sized cola, for example. It’s one thing to destroy yourself(knowingly or not), but I do get judgey when it comes to blatant choices like these when it comes to kids. I am much like the Kristin Wiig character in this SNL clip- LOL- http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi262511897/

    1. I do agree with you. I am also very much like Wiig’s character, except that I could really go on for hours over the reasons why I speak up. My husband is my biggest challenge, he always says, “I should be able to enjoy things once in a while if I want to!” things like coke, fast food, sports drinks…but my response is usually along the lines of, “but how can you put that in your body knowing what’s in it and what it’s going to do to you?!”
      I’m quite judgmental when it comes to food, yes, because I truly do care what goes into my body, but more so because I care about the environment and the future of my family (which is now only my husband and I with our 3 small dogs…but children one day!). The foods being grown that support the “SAD” is destroying us and the land.
      How is it not a question of morality when the treatment of animals whether it be for meat, eggs, milk, etc are terrible and inhumane (and completely unsanitary); the quality of our crops, soil, and air are being destroyed; and it’s our families that are being affected and paying the price in ways that we don’t even understand yet. It’s not possible to live in a clean world anymore…and THAT is sad, and our food industries have a lot to do with that!

    2. Yes…but what if that was the first Big Gulp cola that parent purchased in a year!?! We honestly do not know every bit of information that affects our decisions.
      Not to mention that large corporations own many health companies — and what they feed us (in words) is not necessarily for us to profit by — but them.
      Yes, I try to eat healthy, and feed my family the same. It’s why I grow a garden, and keep chickens. (How many of you go to the trouble of raising your own eggs, those of you who are extra-worried?) I use olive oil and butter, reasoning that if I use the food at its most basic, without preservatives, I’m doing better than stuffing all sorts of chemicals in.
      We also eat out on occasion.
      I do not, however, concentrate on buying ‘organic’ foods — partly because they’re so darn expensive, and partly because some things are sneaking into those products! (Check the labels.) Will I buy organic, if it’s close in price to regular produce? You bet. (One great place to go is SPROUTS — if you have this store near you, you can consistently get wonderful fruit and produce for low prices.)
      I am especially troubled by some of the young women in our church who equate ‘healthy eating’ (by their standards only) with faith. Some throw in allergy issues, as well — especially gluten — and pretty much expect everyone to accommodate to their demands. (Sometimes they’re keeping their children on no-gluten diets, even though the kids aren’t allergic!) This is a huge stumbling block to helping others to become Christians…Paul would not have had his vision (of all sorts of foods being ok with God) if it weren’t true.
      There are huge issues to deal with in today’s world…food should not be at the top of the list.

      1. I agree with almost everything you’ve said…but I would caution that a gluten intolerance is not something mothers can take lightly. I SO wish my little girl could indulge occasionally on a bday cake at a party, etc. It surely would be less hassle for me to have to bake her a mini GF (not to mention one that is also free of eggs and dairy) every time she’s invited to a party. Sure, I don’t like the sugar and dyes, etc., but I would let her once in a while at a party. But I–and moms of kids like mine–simply cannot. If I let my little girl eat gluten, I’d be in for cleaning up her diarrhea for a solid week, listening to her say her tummy aches and navigating the delicate balance of disciplining a child who had food-induced meltdowns that they can–yet somehow cannot totally–control.

        I would just be cautious in your view of allergy moms. How I wish I could just let my kids eat “whatever” every once in a while!

        1. I think what Cindy is saying is that some moms ‘create’ an ‘allergy’ of gluten for their kids bc they don’t want to eat it themselves, so it’s just easier for them, not necessarily beneficial to their children. I know someone who actually does this. She basically created a gluten allergy in her son by taking him off of it for a long time, based on her personal preferences – no real allergy in him. However, go off of something for long enough, and it will make you sick when you try to eat it again – which is what this woman has done to her son. It’s ‘easy’ for her to control now, but what about as he gets older? I feel for him as a college student, that’s for sure.

    3. “Judgey” does not change anything about the situation or behavior. Someone has to value you and respect your perspective in order to value and respect your choices. If you judge someone you do not know for a choice they make, you have not valued that person or tried to understand and respect their perspective – change will not occur this way.

    4. As Cindy pointed out, I think the problem with saying that it’s appropriate to judge in certain situations is that everybody may view what those situations are differently. For you an obese kid drinking a Big Gulp is a clear reason to judge. But what if I believe soda is toxic, so letting any child have some is HORRIBLE and therefore judge a family for letting their children have soda? Or, what if you’re judging a parent for letting their child have a Big Gulp, when in reality it’s one soda that’s going to be split among their family as a special treat, or they’re just holding it for their parent, or the family has been struggling with some other issue and — whether it’s a good move or not — the Big Gulp is a reward for something else?

      Or, to turn the table around, what if someone read the recent article about the dangers of kombucha and judges you for letting your kids drink it because it’s clearly dangerous?

      I truly do get what you’re saying, but I think it’s dangerous to judge other people/parents for food choices; it’s simply not our place.

      1. Oh yes, Mandy! I tend towards being a judgemental person and a big lesson I am learning (sometimes painfully) is that I just. don’t. know. all. the. story.

        There are times when things are just plain wrong. However, anti-soda as I am, I do not want to bring myself to judge a person’s parenting (the way that they are stewarding their children for the Lord!) over a Big Gulp soda – not without knowing the whole story. And even in an extreme case where culpability is clear, I’m guessing there are bigger problems that need to be addressed before the soda is addressed.

        Lord help me to recognize that I can never know how He is working in another’s heart and at what pace. I tend to judge obese preachers (gluttony, which the Lord spoke so often against!), but my mother told be that she always reminds herself, “he may be changing and have just lost 20 pounds.” Only the Lord knows and I am challenging myself to be much more careful about pretending to be omniscient.

  11. I do get frustrated when others judge me by the food I eat. I cook a lot from scratch and we do eat a lot of whole and organic foods, yet we are one of those families that also goes out to eat fast food once a week, yet I still get labeled by friends as a hippie chick, due to how we eat. I try explaining to them how much better it makes me feel, but they just think I have bought in to a trend.

  12. It’s standard for us to offer kombucha to visitors. 🙂 We’re just so into it! And we say “This is what we drink instead of soda.” They’re usually pretty intrigued by that. We haven’t had one say they truly disliked it yet.

    1. Hehe! Maybe that was a bad example. I was thinking more along the lines of serving something “strange” with no other options available. I’m guessing you also offer your visitors water to drink if they don’t like the kombucha?

  13. Yes! Yes! This has been one of my biggest struggles in our food journey. I have felt judged and purposefully make a great effort to keep from judging. I love to share information- its part of my personality- but I try to share in a way that lets the other person know that they are free to do whatever they want with the info without my opinion of them being changed. I find,too, that it helps to remember that this is a journey and we are all at different places in it. There will always be further steps to take. We must remember that food is a part of our lives but food is not our life. When food becomes our life we have replaced God with our food choices. I may be wrong but I think God would prefer us to eat McDonalds everyday and love Him with our whole heart rather than eat a perfect traditional/whole foods diet and have no time for Him. Just my thoughts.

    Thank you so much for this post!

  14. Thank you so much for such a great post! I think one of the biggest problems to people being more healthy in their choices is misunderstanding. Then we also factor in lack of time, lack of knowledge, and cultural upbringing…all of those contribute also. I have been trying to make better choices. It is certainly a challenge for me in more ways than one. But I am trying. I would really be hurt if someone judged me on one quick fast-food meal that I rarely eat anymore.

  15. I deeply appreciate this perspective, Mandi. While there are certainly cases where food choices are moral (parents who are ignoring their child’s obesity-related disease because of apathy or abuse), those cases are very rare. Most of us interact with families who are truly doing their best to nourish their children, in the context of busy family life.

    It pains me every time I read posts or comments from people who are sacrificing relationships with parents or in-laws or others because of food choices. There are ways to gently indicate food choices or preferences, as you indicated (and as I know full well from dealing with allergies, sensitivities, and health choices for my children), but destroying the relationship over food? As I understand it, as soon as my food choices become more important to me than other biblically-mandated actions (being at peace, preferring others above myself, loving others, honoring my parents), I am in danger of making food my idol.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and gentle post! Very encouraging and challenging.

  16. I’m so glad you touched on the fact that some people just don’t agree…or care, if we are honest. It’s important to respect them as well, even if there is no apparent reason why they choose that way of eating. I myself have experienced feeling judged, or even fear of other people finding out that we don’t always eat well, or that our garden is a huge, and I mean HUGE mess, when our friends seem to be doing so well with their locally grown, back yard garden diets. The simple fact is that we have the right to make our own choices, that is what makes this country so great! Wonderful article!

  17. Thanks for the reminder! I especially appreciate your suggestion to accept food offered by your hosts, even if they’re not the healthiest. It’s a small way to bridge the gap between you and say, “I value our relationship more than my food rules.”

  18. What a wonderful post! Thank you! I so struggle with this. I want to eat well but so desperately want to love others well too. I’m not sure I always do this well, but I sure hope I can learn to!

  19. I love this post! We’re vegetarians which means we tend to have judging moments. We’ve tried hard to stop the judging. Plus, we’re also in a place where we can’t afford local fresh produce. In order to keep our family fed we have to resort to frozen veggies and using top Ramon noodles for pasta. It’s tough to feel judging eyes but we do what’s best for our family in this season of life.

  20. Great post and a great reminder. What works for one family at a certain time in life may not work for another. Thanks for the reminder to keep it all in perspective.

  21. You wrote that eating is about “making good choices without allowing them to get in the way of relationships or become rigid rules that take the joy out of food and eating”. Amen! There is no joy in someone pointing out that my bratwurst is “the entrails of a pig” or chastizing me for “supporting the corporate machine” because I bought this week’s spinach from the grocery store instead of a farmer. Similarly, there is no joy in eating alone because people are wary of a lecture they may get from ME.

    We don’t always know the full story about a person’s income, or health issues, or lifestyle. We need to ask what is more important – good hospitality, good manners, the family meal, and companionship…..or getting everyone to conform to our own way of eating?

    Great post!

  22. This is a good post. I have to say that I am tired of reading (not here, but on a lot of websites) that if you wanted to eat well, you would find the money. My husband has been unemployed for 2-1/2 years, we are out of savings, living with my parents, and on food stamps. My choices are limited, so I do the best I can with what I have. Grass-fed or organic is just not in my budget. I’m just happy if I can fill my kids tummies with reasonably healthy foods.

  23. It’s a hard line to tow I think. I have a child who cannot eat preservatives, food dyes, even certain healthy foods like apples without losing her control over herself. That makes it really tricky when someone else wants to “treat” her. I want her to enjoy things, but I can’t allow her to have foods that will affect our entire family negatively like that. And people often feel judged when I try to explain what she can and cannot have.

    Or then there’s the case of when you’re trying out a new diet (say gluten free or dairy free) in the hopes it will help you or one of your family members with a particular medical issue. Other people often feel judged just by the fact that YOU are choosing to exclude that item.

    Along those lines, people ask me why and how I plan to feed my baby the way I do (whole foods, finger foods, starting with fruits/veggies, then meats/dairy, and trying to avoid grains as long as possible). It’s hard to explain why I feel so strongly about doing things this way without making it sound like I’m judging the other person for NOT doing it my way.

    Or when you see a person who may benefit from your lifestyle – it’s tricky to want to make a gentle suggestion without making someone feel judged. Such a hard thing to do I think! I definitely don’t judge anyone for not wanting or being able to do what I do. But I think if they could benefit, it’s only right for me to at least suggest it as gently as possible?? Thoughts?

  24. Oh, the joy I felt reading this! I am so tired of being mired down with all this parental guilt about every. little. thing. I do for or with my family. The quote in the article was perfect. Between MommyGuilt and all these new eating plans: Fermented. Local. Paleo. etc., I am about to lose my Mommy Mind. There is a crazy competition between families and frankly I find it weird. Now, let me be clear, I am not talking about the moms and dads who choose and blog about one eating style and stick with it, thus freeing up lots of quality time together. No, I am talking about the people who read all of the blogs and try to impress upon me how important their choices are for me. It’s a craziness that goes bouncing around from the food plan of the week, to the new craft of the week, to the new home school curriculum of the week, to the new disciplinary platform of the week, to the new parenting style of the week. I feel like I have to be a rocket scientist, a scholar, a seamstress, an executive chef, an author, and child psychologist, all while holding a jar of fermented foods, drinking a Kombucha, and breastfeeding. I’ve had about all I can stand. I am going to go play with my kids and feed them a pan of brownies. WITH SUGAR.

  25. I’m so glad you’ve addressed this issue. We attended a church where I would say almost half…. if not more…. are practicing eating organic only, nourishing tradition type eating.
    Our family just isn’t on board with it. Not that there aren’t some great ideas or recipes, etc that are involved with that, but we’ve just not been able (or ready) to implement them.
    There have been many times when we felt like we couldn’t invite “so and so” over because we were eating “common” food and they couldn’t/wouldn’t eat it.
    I’ve also had more than one family over who refuse to drink our Brita filtered water, saying they prefer their water “Berkey” filtered…. oh my.

    1. Janet, that’s really heartbreaking! Not surprising, since food was causing division in the church even in Jesus’ day, but heartbreaking nonetheless!

  26. Thanks for this very thoughtful/helpful post! Something I’m fearful of as we start our journey toward more healthful eating habits. So nice to know that there are those out there who are thinking of the bigger picture! It actually gives me encouragement and hope to continue making better choices for our family.

  27. Thanks for the post. It really shows how we can turn just about anything into an issue that we can “puff ourselves up” in. Again, reminding me of my need for Him and His grace. Thanks again. 🙂

  28. Thank you for this post. Altho I am making healthier choices where I can, as a single mom on a very limited budget I simply cannot provide the food for my family that I’d like. I do keep taking baby steps in what I believe to be the right direction, but I’ve cut down on which food blogs I read because it can be very frustrating to read how I “have to” do this or that and I simply cannot afford to at this point in time.
    I’ve learned over the past 23 years of being a homeschool mom to be careful how I share what I believe in – others are much more open to your choices if you get them curious and are gracious about what you do, rather than preaching to them or judging them.

  29. While I am certainly convicted about how I look at family, friends, and strangers and their lifestyles, I can’t say I agree wholeheartedly with the perspective presented in this post. I get the feeling that many people here are merely viewing personal choices about food selection/ lifestyle as “I eat from small farms so that I don’t support the corporate machine.” Surely that’s not the case. But it’s how it comes across to me sometimes. I am making my food choices and lifestyle changes because I believe God calls us to be good stewards of our bodies, along with all that he gives us, including the earth. Therefore, I believe that the past three decades of my life were lived in ignorance and sin. Even if no one told me about my sin, it was still sin. And all sin has consequences. So now my body is displaying those consequences. Not to mention the sin of gluttony.

    The bible is clear that while God is sovereign, man still has responsibility for his actions. So I can’t just throw my hands up and say, “I have hormone problems and nutrient deficiencies. Oh well, it’s the Lord’s will.” Because I had a hand in that with my personal choices.

    But I do want to say that I have been convicted lately about how I view others. And I have to remind myself that God imparts this knowledge to us at different points in our lives. No one told me about WAPF, etc until a few years ago. I lived most of my life in complete disregard about my lifestyle. As I grew older, I began to make changes based on misinformation in the media. But I thought I was doing the right thing. So I understand that this is a long journey of change, not to be made all at once over night. And so I remind myself that my friends and family might not grasp this until many years from now, and maybe never. And I have to be okay with that. Sure, I can and should pray for them. And I can and should lovingly share information. But judging- that has to stop.

    My friend wrote a blog post about gluttony and honoring God in all that we do, whether we eat or drink.

    “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6.19-20
    “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10.31

    1. Mindy – Thank you for voicing your perspective because I had some of the very same thoughts in reaction to this post. It’s certainly correct to say that we aren’t to judge others for the food choices that they make. However, I think it’s a stretch to say that food choices are not a moral issue at all. God does call us to honor him with our body as well as our time and resources. So much of what we do every day has something to do with food and I think we can make more or less moral choices about the food that we eat. It is possibly to eat sinfully. I think there’s a difference between saying, “that person is sinning by eating XYZ”, which Mindi (the author of the blog post) has so thoughtfully pointed out. However, I think it’s giving each of us an too easy individual pass to say that what we eat doesn’t have any theological implications.

      I blogged about this recently actually: http://salmonandsouvlaki.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/kios-eating-part-3-theological-implications-of-what-we-eat/

      Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote there:
      I am not contending that every Christian has to eat all organic food in order to honor God. Or that if we slip up and eat a whole bag of Oreos, somehow we’ve fallen out of God’s favor. I’m simply saying…that we need to mindfully consider the food that we eat, just as we should mindfully consider the media we consume (and any other aspect of our lives). Additionally, the food we eat has great impact beyond our own bodies. When we choose to eat food that is grown or raised sustainably and ethically, we are also choosing to obey God’s command of stewardship and dominion of the earth from Genesis 1.

    2. I understand what you are saying, and I tend to agree with you. But, like the post says, not everyone’s life situation is the same. I live not far from Detroit, and while I have access to local farms and farmer’s markets and fresh foods, many inner city families do not. There was a documentary recently on the many problems inner-city Detroit families face, and one of them was lack of fresh foods. They took cameras into a grocery store (of which there are very few due to high crime rate) and there wasn’t one single piece of fresh fruit or veggie. Every single item came in a box, can, or bag. These people have no choice – they have no cars to go outside of their area, no money, and public transportation is extremely unreliable at best.
      So before you start saying that eating well IS a moral issue and we have a God-given responsibility to take care of ourselves, realize that there are many, many people who would LOVE to eat right, but just cannot. They don’t have the means or the opportunity. It’s not laziness or ignorance or a reflection on their character. It’s just their circumstances. Pure and simple.

      1. I agree with Emily. People who think that everyone who eats poorly is living in sin must have never been in the financial situation where they were unable to afford quality food. I’m thankful the Lord gave me many opportunities for mission work before I had children–all over Latin America, in Africa, in China, in Europe and to the poorest of the poor in inner city USA. Some people have no other choice but to let their children die of hunger or feed them GMO corn.

        Bottom line? We need to stick to our own convictions in this area, educate others gently and with grace but not hold them to a standard we ourselves have created.

        1. Agreed. That’s something I meant to add. I haven’t always been in the position to eat how I eat now, etc. And even now there are things we just can’t afford to change, though we have made considerable sacrifices to be able to do what we can now. God knows what each of us is capable of doing in our situations. Bringing condemnation to people who truly have little to no options to do otherwise is of course not the way to go. But generally speaking, most of us can make small changes a little bit at a time. Concerning inner cities with zero fresh foods in their markets, this is when community gardening could make such an impact. And of course, farmer’s markets in the inner city are another great trend.

          1. Erin – I like your bottom line that, “We need to stick to our own convictions in this area, educate others gently and with grace but not hold them to a standard we ourselves have created.” So true, so true. And I’ve been trying to be really clear about the importance of not judging others. However, I think it’s a bit fatalistic and also condescending to say (and I’m not suggesting that any of the commenters are saying this but it’s an argument I hear frequently in this topic) that just because a person is poor and doesn’t have access to fresh food, therefore that person necessarily is going to eat poorly. Even when we’re dirt poor, we can make better or worse choices about the food that we eat. There’s a fine line to draw between judging others for the food that they eat and advocating for food justice, for the abolition of food desersts, and for nutrition education. The truth is, it is a sin that poor people eat the way they do – it’s just institutional sin, not personal sin.

          2. Laura, please don’t take this the wrong way. And I understand that we all have different beliefs, even within the context of Christianity. But please realize that God will ultimately judge all sin. And we all will have to give an account of that sin. But God does not have categories for sin. And he will not judge someone for not having access to healthy food or water. A small child in Uganda is not sinning because they don’t have access to clean drinking water or fresh fruit. Yes, there are consequences to our bodies when we do not have proper nourishment, but that is because we live in a fallen world. We will all die, some sooner than others, and some unhealthier than others, because of living in a fallen world. But that does not mean the woman feeding her children Wonder Bread and cheese is sinning because that is all that is available to her.

  30. Great post, Mandi! Love this – “the best thing you can do is to continue to make what you feel are the best choices for your family without worrying about the choices other people are making.” Thanks for such an open and honest conversation about something that so many of us struggle with!

  31. I have definitely experienced this from the other side. We try to eat healthy, whole foods, organic, the whole bit. However, I HATE beans. (Yes, a mostly-vegetarian, whole foods person – but no beans for me.) I don’t like them at all. Everyone has foods they don’t like, but for some reason my fellow whole foods friends seem to overlook this with me. “They are low in fat! High in fiber! Cheap, but great nutrition!” and on and on… The judgement is annoying. I agree with the benefits of beans wholeheartedly, and I gladly feed beans to my kids. But me not liking beans is not a valid reason to judge my food habits!

  32. I really enjoyed your post. I struggled for a long time about whether food is a moral issue or not, because for many years it was a huge stumbling block for me in my walk with God. I would analyze if eating a certain food was “sin”, and somehow felt “holier” if I deprived myself or ate super healthy. As a result I became really legalistic and struggled with a lot of self-condemnation when I failed. I now understand that food doesn’t commend us to God, and while I should be a good steward of my body, I can’t add to my holiness or purity in God’s eyes by what I eat. Christ already reconciled me to God, and eating perfect, or imperfectly can’t change that. I am learning now God is more concerned with our attitude about food, than WHAT we eat. Do we love food more than him? Do we eat more than we should? Do we waste money on food that could be used for his kingdom or for paying our debts? While I agree we should eat healthy, I think God would rather us spend our extra money on investing in his kingdom, than using our extra to buy better quality “fuel” for ourselves.

    1. Sara, your comment (except for the last two sentences) describe me and my thoughts. I felt judged and I judged others for the past 6 years regarding food choices and domesticity and home schooling — I always felt that “a good mom does this…. a good mom does that”. Thankfully, within the past few months I am finding freedom from self-condemnation through a better understanding of the new covenant (of grace). And I refuse now to let others (especially our great enemy) condemn me and I am so much more merciful in my attitude toward others. Eternally, will our food choices matter?

      Thanks, Mandi, for proclaiming this. I think a lot of mental and emotional anxiety will be relieved.

  33. I love this post. As a blogger about green living choices, I myself constantly aware of presenting our stories of healthy recipes/decisions without sounding like I am judging the alternative. As a busy mom, I understand that the convenience food available is often times a lot faster than making a dinner or snack from scratch. However, the more I have learned about SAD, the more we move away from conventional choices.
    There are so many wonderful quotes and comments here to continue my reading, thanks!

  34. Thank you! What timing. I stumbled on another blog (maybe through Pintrest) about “real food” and I was excited to read and learn new ideas to make better choices for my family. What I’ve unfortunately felt is a consistent judgy tone. In fact, this week – one comment actually referred to others “fat and dumb”. Really? Hardly encouraging.

  35. May I respectfully suggest that you are talking about two different but related issues? Food choices can certainly be a moral issue but passing judgement on others who do not follow your beliefs is something else entirely. I have been a vegetarian since age 11 because I believe it is wrong for me to kill and eat animals (a moral choice) but I realize others do not feel that way. I think what you are referring to is the feeling of moral superiority some people get caught up in regarding many issues, not just food choices. I’ve found people tend to follow healthy examples much better than they do someone who breates them and makes them feel inferior. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  36. I think this post is a great reminder that we aren’t meant to be judging others at all, and definitely not for their food choices. However, I do think that some food choices can carry moral implications, such as, choosing to eat at fast food restaurants. When we make that kind of choice, we are choosing to use our dollars to support corporations who clearly have agendas that we can’t call anything other than immoral. The same goes for buying processed junk off the store shelves.

    Having said that, none of us should be judging what others are buying. Let’s just worry about our own selves, and freely and graciously give our input *when it is asked for*. I’ve learned that to do otherwise seems judgmental, unaccepting, and even Puritanical. None of us are perfect in any way. Some of us might feel our food choices are fairly well near perfect, while others of us are struggling with just buying the basics. Some of us can afford raw, grass-fed cheese while others of us are hard put to buy standard, grocery store cheese for our families. And some people live on parts of the continent where raw milk is $3-$4/gallon, while in other parts, it can be as much as $18/gallon!!! So, we all have many different factors affecting our food choices and we’re all on the same journey together–trying to make the best food choices we can at this moment in time.

    1. I appreciate your thoughts about being more concerned with our own selves than others, as far as being judgmental about food purchases. I would love to feed my family more fresh produce, but our family is truly just squeaking by right now. I buy what fresh I can at our supermarket and farmer’s market and encourage my family to enjoy it and make it last!

      But Jana, sometimes eating at a fast food restaurant supports an organization that has a moral agenda — such as Chick-Fil-A or In-N-Out. Also, I think I might go crazy if I tried to research the moral agenda of the corporations responsible to provide so many of the things I buy — food and otherwise. Some of the “greenest” companies are the most liberal, morally. Just a thought.

      This has been an interesting topic overall. I think much of it comes down to stewardship on my part and grace towards others.

  37. Here is an interesting perspective about whether or not food choices are a moral issue.
    A family where dad is unemployed due to the economy, not laziness or eithics problems, has to take what money they have left and make it fit into bill paying and food buying. There is no unemployment availble, long story on why not.
    Choosing whole wheat, organic, local or whatever popular food choice you want to pick is 100% out of the question because they need to purchase as much food with the least ammount of money possible. Every single penny counts. Sure they skip the pop and chips but almost everything they stick in their cart is white, refined processed, canned stuff. Long term health issues if they happen are going to have to happen as there is no other option. Stewardship is being wise with what you have and caring for your own.
    That was us. We even had to use food stamps for awhile as there was no other option. I literally had 1 meal worth of food left when the benefits kicked in.
    It is so hard to read articles, blog posts and condemnation from Christians who are telling you that the food in your cupboard is toxic waste that should go in the dumpster. Thank you for realizing that being organic, or what have you is not a moral issue!!

  38. I love this post! This is something that my husband and I have talked about a lot. When we first started emptying our pantry of processed foods I took our extra stuff to a leader in our church to be distributed to families that didn’t have enough food. My husband wanted to just throw it out, after all, why would we give those “bad” foods to people? Because some people just need ANY kind of food. Then we got to experience first hand sacrificing better foods just to survive for a few months. I also love that quote you posted from Oswald Chambers. 🙂

  39. Wonderful post! Not only does it waste energy to judge your neighbor, but you also attract more flies with honey than vinegar. 🙂

  40. Mandi, I absolutely love and wholeheartedly agree with this post! Although my family eats healthier than most, I hate when people assume I judge them for their choices. I try to be up front with: “Hey, we eat Chick-fil-A sometimes…and sometimes I use canned beans when I don’t feel like soaking!”

    I really think a lot of real food bloggers/authors have turned many people off by their judgmental attitudes. Where is there grace for the family who is struggling financially or is simply uneducated? I didn’t learn how to cook at all growing up, so it’s definitely been a challenge for me to go from my boxed-cereal-every-morning childhood to serving my family real food.

    I think educating others with GRACE is the key.

    Thanks a ton for this post! We’re on the same page. I’ve facebooked, tweeted and pinned this post! 🙂

  41. I like this post, but disagree with the idea of taking a little just to be polite. I can see some situations where that’s a good idea, but I can also see it being detrimental. My son is not truly allergic to food chemicals, but his negative behaviroal reactions that last for days after even the smallest mishap are not worth it. The damage those same chemicals do to my own healing are also counter productive. I believe I can politely decline the all processed dessert offered w/o hurting anyone’s feelings.

    It could also work against the cause of “opening their eyes”. While I wholeheartedly agree that time savers here and there (drive thru, canned beans, store bought sourdough bread) are good for one’s sanity, if we’re telling others of the dangers of processed foods and then indulge in said food, we’re hypocrites.

    A pet peeve of mine since learning about the benefits of whole, real food is that society has taught us that we’re “mean moms” if we don’t let our kids have chemical laden “treats”. Really? Let’s poison our kids and call it a treat!! I can’t sit idly by with that one, but I do present myself with grace (I think).

    Thanks for writing this, it needs to be said!

    1. I would classify behavioral reactions to food dyes/chemicals as an allergy, and I agree with you that I would not feed my kids those things just to be polite. I

      However, I disagree with you on this, “if we’re telling others of the dangers of processed foods and then indulge in said food, we’re hypocrites.” Maybe that’s because I tend to take a moderate approach — that these things are not good for us and therefore we should try to avoid them, not avoid them at all costs — but I don’t think that being willing to fellowship with other people and enjoy the food they prepare makes you a hypocrite or hurts your influence with them.

      Do you know of a case of this ever happening? Because having been on the other side, I can tell you I was much more convinced that the “real food” lifestyle was doable for me by seeing families who found a balance of eating healthy without being rigid about their food choices. The few bloggers I read who absolutely make no exceptions left me overwhelmed and paralyzed rather than encouraged by their conviction.

  42. Thank you for this post. I actually found it through a link on FB from The Humbled Homemaker. I have JUST begun looking into changing our way of eating.

    I work full time outside of the home, as a teacher so summers off…hence the time to research more! My husband also works outside the home. I also have 3 children whom I love dearly and try my very best to raise up into strong Christian people who understand that we are to love our God and love people. As with most mothers, I want the very best for my children.

    The thought of always cooking from scratch is daunting. Everything about it is daunting. I don’t even know where to find some of the ingredients and I couldn’t even tell you where the nearest health food type store is. I did not learn to cook growing up and am trying to expand my skills…on my own. I sure hope that “real food” people would still love me through this process and not be passing judgement on me regardless of the outcome.

    It is sad that people will pass judgement on me because we currently eat a lot of processed foods. I know they think well if she would stay home and not work outside of the home, she would have time to cook. Doesn’t she know women are to be homemakers? She can’t afford to stay home? She can’t afford to buy more natural healthier food choices? Well geez she obviously mismanages her finances. The list goes on and on.

    I am a Christian. I am not perfect. I have made and continue to make mistakes. God has forgiven me and will continue to forgive me as I continue to grow and change. That doesn’t change the fact that regardless of anyone’s circumstances, it is not permission to pass judgement.

    I listen to God and what He prompts me to do. I am secure in my decisions. I hope that people will continue to love me as one of God’s creations, as we are commanded to do, regardless of the food I eat.

    1. Tammie – I just want to encourage you! Please do not let what others may think about you stop you from improving yourself. We are all in a learning process as God is continually refining us! I would like to think that you are surrounded by encouragers that want to extend a helping hand! I was blessed (though I didn’t know it at the time) by a mom that basically made everything from scratch, so it is quite second nature to me. I am also blessed by the fact that I love to cook, bake and create. I am terrible with recipes, I almost always “disagree” with them and change them to my liking. I think a recipe is more of a guideline rather than something to be strictly followed 😀 Please remember, baby steps. Pick one thing for one meal that you want to make that doesn’t require a box. Whether it be a main dish, side dish, dessert or even biscuits. Don’t go overboard with trying some perfectly impossible dish that only Julia Child could create – go with simple, simple, simple. It will build your confidence. It truly breaks my heart that there are so many out there that are intimidated with cooking, because it is the one place that I feel most at home – I guess that’s the reason. If cooking overwhelms you, then I would just recommend making some basic changes if at all possible in your area. First, switch from margarine to butter. Margarine is a fake chemical concoction that does absolutely nothing for your body. Butter, in moderation, will actually do wonderful things for you. Children also need the extra fat for brain development and just because they are growing. The next thing I would suggest is eliminating soda. Terrible, terrible, terrible. But I love a Dr.Pepper or Pepsi, so I do have one once a week 🙂 Other simple things like not buying flavored yogurt, but then purchasing fresh fruit to add yourself – that’s a huge improvement and you’re not ingesting aspartame. My mother always told me the closer it is to the way God made it, the healthier it is for you. You are not in this journey alone and such a blessing that you have the desire to search out for yourself and listen to the Lord. Good luck, and most of all, have fun with this!

  43. This post and some of the comments were real eye openers for me. I appreciate the chastisement of consciously and subconsciously judging my family and others for not jumping on this health kick wagon with me that I have decided to jump on these past few months.
    What was heightened in my spirit is the fact that through all of this we are making this an issue of what we do or do not do, when the bottom line is that this has nothing to do with our “works”.
    Regarding food, God tells us it is all clean and not to call any of it unclean. As far as the chemical laden and over processed, it is written that if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. Abraham was MADE righteous BEFORE the circumcision or his works; he was made righteous because he believed God. We are saved not because of us, but because we believe in Christ; likewise we are healed or in good health not because of us, but because we believe God is our God.
    God raised the dead and I’m not trusting Him with this body that still lives? I have a long way to go…

    1. You make some very good points about “God tells us it is all clean and not to call any of it unclean”. I do however disagree on the link between processed foods and “drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” My in-laws were two very faithful God loving people. They both however had numerous diet induced health problems which caused pain and suffering and ultimately their early deaths. I am reminded that when when Daniel and his young friends were taken captive they requested to eat as they had been commanded by God. Their diet proved to make them healthy and robust. I would prefer to try my best to eat healthy and hope for more “life” in my years. Not for moral reasons but for practical ones.

      1. I think she was saying when there is no alternative God will bless the food that is available to you. That is what I had happen to me. For all the clamoring about store bought milk being so bad for you I was able to use it as a significant part of a diet plan that helped me heal some major health issues I had. According to the “healthy eating” experts it had to be raw organic milk or it was too toxic to be of any good!

  44. Thank you for your post… many good things to think about. I’ve been increasingly irritated by the hype about “real food/whole food diets”… isn’t this just, well, COOKING? (Like, you know, with actual ingredients… why give it a trendy new name and create some pretend moral storm around it??)

    1. I understand your frustation about the hype. But there are SO many people like myself that grew up being taught that preparing Hamburger Helper or Kraft Mac&Cheese was “cooking”. Most Americans don’t KNOW how to cook real food – and the worst part is that they don’t know that they don’t know! I like Jamie Oliver because he is always pointing out that “look, this isn’t as hard as you think. And it doesn’t have to be a big deal.”

      I’m not a localvore/whole-foodie by any means. Eating locally and in season sounds great, but I find that both in price and mental-effort, it takes more than I can afford. However, I have been making slow changes to my cooking habits over the last 10 years. I make a lot more from scratch than I grew up with (although I still have a weakness for boxed mac-and-cheese). I’m not at a place (yet) where I’m ready to spend the extra time and money hunting down organic vegetables and milk from grass-fed cows – but my kids eat a lot more fruit and vegetables than I did – or even than I do now!


    about a year ago i was trying to justify to my mom why i was going to buy some cheap low quality ingredients to take to a dish to an event where the people were not into real food. my mom called me out on it and said “you vote with your dollars – monsanto doesn’t know who is eating the food, they only know people are buying it, and that is all they care about anyway.” this article has a lot of great points – but i cant resist totally disagreeing with one statement “food choices are not a moral issue”. food choices ARE a moral issue if you have a well informed understanding of what is going on, and the means to make different choices. no one but God can judge your knowledge and means, that is between you and Him. but all nutritional analysis aside, i do not see how any Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Pagan, or Jew (forgive me if i have missed a religion) could call the way food is produced today ethical, responsible and moral.

    she gives a list of real and perceived reasons people do not make the change. i think one is left out and one is bogus. she left out consent of the husband. without husband (or wife vise versa) support it is very difficult to make changes you may be convinced you should make. what is bogus – cant afford it. saying that is a slap in the face to those i personally know who live on very low incomes yet make excellent food choices. these people don’t always get to eat the type or amount of a food they may want in order to afford to buy moral and nutritious food. it does take some time to learn how to afford it, cause you are not going to do it by pushing your shopping cart through whole foods market, but, it is the path that counts, not your speed in getting there. the author quotes another writer who would refer to someone living out my food choices as a member of the “priest class” which i couldn’t find more laughable. and while i am convinced that “carbon footprint” is a bunch of BS, shouldn’t everyone want to trade fairly? what the heck is wrong with that? and as a libertarian i would NEVER endorse any law that would impede someone else from making a choice of what kind of food to put in their mouth – so stop making laws about what i can put in mine (raw milk!!!).

    the air of the day seems to be moral relativism – “its all good, as long as YOU are happy”. (never mind that monsanto is impoverishing third world countries and causing starvation). “you cant make a moral judgment without judging somebody else’s conscious.” well why not? i can say that murder is wrong (moral judgment) without judging your state of mind and level of cop-ability. if you can watch a movie like food inc. and say “yeah, i am totally OK with that” then you have an improperly developed conscious.

    so that is why i buy organic white flour to make play dough, because i know where my dollars are going – and i am not going to send them to monsanto if i have the knowledge and means to do better.

    1. I respectfully — but strongly — disagree.

      Morality is determined by a) religion and what one believes is “truth” and 2) consensus of a society. It’s moral relativism for you to add “supporting Monsanto” to the list of what’s wrong and expect everybody else to live according to that standard.

      The Bible is my standard, and it clearly — and repeatedly — says that we are not to judge other people for their food choices. This has obviously been an argument since Jesus’ time, and yet the Bible says we are not to judge, that food choices do not commend us to God and that food rules don’t help us.

      I do absolutely agree with you that living out your personal convictions — and making changes based on your knowledge — are moral imperatives. But I just as strongly disagree with the premise that I get to judge other people based on the food choices they make.

  46. Great post! I saw myself in both camps–those who judge and those who are sometimes judged by others. I most certainly don’t want to be making anyone uncomfortable about their food choices, and I definitely will make an effort to allow others to make their own choices.

    I am a big proponent of buying fair trade, and I tend to think that everyone should have the same convictions as I do.

    Thanks for the eye opening article.

  47. I appreciate this blog post so much. God will never ask us, when we stand before Him, “How often did you go to McDonald’s?” He will ask how we showed His love, how we extended grace. That’s all that matters in the end.

    Thanks so much for your wisdom in the area.

  48. Thank you for this post! We are on the GAPS diet & the social aspect of the diet is much tougher than being on the diet itself! While I don’t want to cause separation or look like a food Nazi, for health reasons, we committed to stick to the diet strictly for 18 months. I am hopeful that we will see enough improvement so we won’t have to be so strict in the future and be less limited to the social things we can do. In the beginning, the judgmental attitudes (whether real or imaginary) bothered me, but I know I need to look at this from the other person’s point of view a lot more. It’s was really hard vacationing with my in-laws recently and watching what they fed their kids, knowing all the health issues they have. I just felt so bad for the kids. I can’t control what they eat, but I pray for them & pray that our results may inspire them. Besides improved health, that helps encourage me not to give up.

    1. You’re so right, Tracy, that the judgmental attitudes go both ways, and I’m sorry you’re experiencing that as you try to do what’s best for your family!

  49. love this article!!!! the judgement needs to stop and loving eachother needs to be our goal!!!! you preach it sister!!!!

  50. Wow this is a great post! I really needed to real it for myself. I have been very frustrated with my husband for not being totally on board with the food changes I am making around the house. You are so right in that he is not in the same place as me right now. And not long ago I was eating the same foods as him without thinking they were bad choices. I appreciate the reminder to work on relationships more and to not get so hung up on the exact details of what we are eating.

    1. Meaghan, I regularly have to remind myself that my husband is his own person and gets to make his own food choices as well. That doesn’t mean that I don’t share the things I’m learning with him or make healthy food for him to try, but at the end of the day, he has just as much right to choose Pop Tarts for breakfast as I do to choose homemade granola!

  51. I disagree with you a little bit, in the fact that food can be and is a moral choice. As a Christian, I believe we should take care of the bodies we are given. I am as guilty as the next person of putting junk in my body. I made a choice this year to make a concerted effort to only put nutritional things in my body. I came to this decision after being incredibly sick for an entire year with colds, sinus infections and tonsilitis. It’s been a complete paradigm shift. Before, I was only concerned with whether or not something would make me fat. I did whatever it took to stay skinny (well, not WHATEVER, but I went to great lengths). I realized that I was, in essence, abusing my body. This is the body I was given for my life. It’s a gift. I should take care of it the best I can. I actually felt convicted about what I had been doing to my body. I didn’t initially plan on making it a life-long change, but that’s what it has become, because my state of mind has changed.

    All that being said, I do agree that we shouldn’t judge others for their choices. My decision is right for me; I’m not about to preach to people and make them feel bad for what they eat. The only times I ever say anything, is if somebody (my dad), is truly struggling in their health. In those cases, I share what I’ve been doing. It bothers me when people feel superior just because they eat a certain way. Big deal. And I’m trying to get better about eating what other people offer. It’s hard to do, because I’m so set on my way. But I don’t want to end up the person nobody wants to invite over. I have made a true effort to be open when friends and family want to go out to eat.

    Back on the subject of my spirituality/diet: something that does push me to be judgmental, is when a holier-than-thou “Christian” will preach and judge about somebody else’s lifestyle, but they are obese. I don’t think a person who abuses their body in that way should judge somebody else for watching an R rated movie, or drinking a glass of wine with their dinner. But that’s just my soapbox…

  52. I’ve never been positively influenced by feelings of judgement or superiority in another person. I know that as I know better I do better and yet… still am unable to be perfect. I need much grace so why would I not also offer this to other people? We are supposed to love each other – and our kind and gentle responses and healthy example will speak volumes. I stay away from people who make me feel like garbage.

    1. Oh, having said that, my youngest daughter and I do have many food allergies so obviously can’t just eat anything offered to us, and I don’t eat meat. But I offer to bring food to events so that we can still participate and not create stress for the host.

  53. This was so good to hear. I feel like I have been on both ends of this. I have been forced to find a balance and definitely keep reminding myself that relationships are more important than food. Especially since my husband is reluctantly being pulled along. He refers to me as his nutter wife now.

  54. Great thoughts! I agree that we should give everyone around us the freedom to eat how they feel is right and good but I disagree with the idea that eating is devoid of morality. Everything we do should have in mind an alignment with the love of GOD and ‘neighbor’ – and therefore eating becomes an issue of Christian faithfulness. How can we say eating is not a moral issue when everything we do is a moral issue? Again – thanks for the thoughtful article!

  55. Excellent post! Our neighbour is vegan and buys everything organic and I love the way that we can talk about food and eating without judging each other. Knowing about her food choices has made me think more about what I’m eating, even if I don’t make the same choices that she does. She’s shared recipes and food with us and I’ve adapted recipes to share with her son (who goes to my daughter’s preschool). I like what you said about learning from the other homeschool mom, who simply lives her choices without judging or pushing it on anyone else. Those are the kind of people who really make a difference. 🙂

  56. This post was such an a-ha moment. I’ve really been struggling with my relationship with my mother and how I was raised when it came to food choices. Since I’ve had my daughter, I’ve made better food choices, but have all of a sudden held a grudge towards my mom. This article totally brought light to why I may have those feelings and how to overcome them. Thank you so much! This was helpful on so many levels!

  57. This is so timely for me. I sometimes (ok, often) catch myself “grading” the groceries of the person in the cart in front of me. I love the Oswald Chambers quote you used, because it is so true.

    Right now, the person I am struggling not to judge is myself. I just had a baby, I have a toddler, and we are working on an international adoption. I daily have to remind myself that putting “perfect” meals together three times a day is not supposed to be my number one priority.

    Thank you for letting God speak through you in this post!

  58. this is a really solid post. i try to work on feeding my family as whole and healthy of a diet as possible but i do have to compromise every now and then. i do not want people to feel any judgement for their food choices from me and agree it is important to eat what is set before me. with healthier eating becoming more popular, i have found lots of judgement swirling around and really don’t want to be any part of it at all. it is always refreshing to see an article like this that values healthy eating and living and yet doesn’t make a separate religion out of it. thank you.

  59. In my days in middle school I usually find that the food I must choose from in the cafeteria is not always the healthiest choices. Not only this, but, feeling judged, I often left most of my plate untouched. This not only led me to eat more at home, but my eating habits turned toward the worst. Looking back I wounder how many others did the same and, knowing what I do now, how I can help others make better choices in the future.

  60. Your words have convicted me ( a good thing). I have been guilty of being a health snob since I learned more about nutrition and became a health coach. I am guilty of shaking my head when family and friends choose less healthy meals. But I have to remember that it’s their choice and if they wanted my expert opinion they would ask for it. Thanks for this post. I needed to read it.

  61. There do seem to be moral implications for food choices more than one’s own health.
    Our broken systems are now set up on exploiting the poor. Look at resources like “Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All” by Oran B. Hesterman.
    Overall, especially as Believers, when we are making choices about the items we consume the most that are only about our gratification or betterment, someone in the bigger picture is going to be hurt.
    And yes, the answer to living as citizens of the Kingdom in regards to our most prized resource, food, it is vital that we be more gracious than excluding. We must ask hard questions and seek the Spirit’s creativity on how to invite everyone into a selfless existence.

  62. I agree that to be unkind to others based on their food choices shows a lack of compassion to others who may have different circumstances or understanding of food ethics than you do. It doesn’t help anyone to rudely judge other people’s eating habits and there are better ways to educate about food ethics. However, I passionately disagree with the statement “food choices are not a moral issue”!

    This post only deals with the idea of what is healthiest for our bodies (which IS a moral issue!). Although the Holy Scriptures speak to care for our bodies many times and tell us that we belong to God and should maintain what belongs to him with great care, what is cited here are only isolated verses about the morality of eating meat prepared for idols. That’s simply not what we’re discussing here. But if you read the end of the chapter cited it’s clear that our actions regarding food are important and have moral implications: “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” The moral issues will definitely affect Paul’s choices because they affect others–which is exactly what our food choices do: they affect others! When we buy food, we vote with our money for what is ethical or what is not ethical. When we support an evil corporation like Monsanto (and I’m not exaggerating when I use the word evil) we are making a moral decision. When we buy food from a source whose practices we know and believe to be ethical we are also making a moral decision.

    Our food choices do not only affect our personal health. They affect the livelihood of people the world over as well as have a huge impact on the environment: the world God has given us to care for, and the inhumane treatment of animals in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations): the creatures God has provided us with to use wisely and protect from cruelty. Our choices have great consequences and carry moral weight. To say that food choices are not a moral issue is to say that our food choices don’t matter. And they do.

    So how do we respond? With compassion and love, understanding that this issues are complex, not everyone may have the same information we do, and that their circumstances might make good food choices difficult for their family. We can try our best to make the right choices and offer good information to our family and friends. We can treat others with respect and accept food at other people’s houses with gratefulness rather than judgement. But we can’t ignore the great influence of our actions under the guise of being “nice.” It’s certainly not “loving” to ignore the many lives that have been ruined due to corporations like Monsanto, the disastrous effects on the environment, and the grotesque treatment of animals typical on giant farming operations.

    For some great information on food and farming ethics, I highly recommend Wendell Berry’s wonderful agrarian essays. Many of them are in the collection: The Art of the Commonplace and Bringing it to the Table. A good introduction, and a fun read, is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

    I understand that the point was to combat the snobbery of some sort of food choice superiority: an unkind, unhelpful, and arrogant attitude towards others which should not be encouraged. But ignoring the moral implications of food cannot be the answer!

    1. I agree with you completely. The LORD OUR GOD cares very much about the details of our lives. In the times that his word was written the issues with food were not at all the same. At that time everything was organic, the issues were more of teaching the people that he only made certain animals for food for us humans and that just because he made it does not mean we should eat it.Then he taught us how to eat things, that we should not eat anything with its blood in it and so on. When you start to study the latter days in which we live you see that YAHWAY clearly states that he is coming soon to put his wrath on those who are destroying the earth. So when you have certain knowledge of what is going on today then you should do all that you can to keep from putting your money toward the continuance of these evils. As It is written we die from lack of knowledge. I was raised almost completely on fast food and my sister and I have been sick from early childhood. I have been studying some years now on these topics and in my experience it is those that lack understanding that are the ones so quick to judge. I think it is sad and terrible how the people have been so decieved walking around so nieve putting faith in man trusting in those who deal so tretchurisly. If you didnt grow it or make it yourself try not to get so offended when someone speaks to you in truth about it. It is those that hate you that will never tell you the truth. Itry hard to teach my children the right way to deal with people on these issues as it is the majority that try to push thier food on you and get offended when you tell them it makes you sick. People mock and roll thier eyes it is a sad and misguided world in which we live. Those who love and fear the LORD should remain in prayer as the deseptions are so great the LORD has said that if he dosent cut these days short not one will be left standing.

  63. Spot on!

    I always wanted to say that, ala Gordon Ramsay.

    Oops, now you know I watch Hell’s Kitchen, which is a WHOLE ‘nother post…! Wink, wink. Can you write one called Television is Not a Moral Issue, or am I pressing my luck?!

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