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Bullying but why?

04 Oct


I am an educator and a nutritionist. Have recently had my book on naturopathy “Qudrat ka Dawakhana’ published.

I’ve met all sorts of people who are passionate about healthy eating. My experience has been that most people looking to improve and maintain their health through optimal food choices and a balanced lifestyle have good intentions and seek to be healthy so that they can enjoy being alive.

Sadly, I’ve also known some people who have gone into an emotional death spiral of sorts, where the desire for better health transforms into something quite dark, a mindset that seems to rate people’s worth by what they eat and how thin or fit they appear.

Six years ago when my mother was dying of cancer I was deeply immersed in learning about the health benefits of water fasting, I followed a strict vegan diet, choosing to eat mostly raw foods with small servings of cooked vegetables and legumes, .

At that time, I became good friends with  someone who was a true champion of the raw food diet. She had serious dental problems that she couldn’t afford to have treated, but she was close to all raw, an exercise enthusiast, and overall, an inspiration to those looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

I met this lady years later I wondered what she would think about me marrying someone who wasn’t a strict vegan to any extreme. And since getting married, though I was still very conscious about my diet, I didn’t get too crazy about avoiding the occasional processed treat like non-dairy ice cream or chips and pizza.

Well, as soon as I offered my friend some to have pizza after our huge salad dinner, I saw something flicker in my friend’s face. She was still pleasant, but I sensed that she was dismayed over us having such foods.

Though she never specifically condemned my shift away from the diet that I faithfully followed , over the next few months, our friendship fizzled away.

In one e-mail, she mentioned that she was as determined as ever not to lower her standards, which I guess was her way of gently letting me know that she couldn’t be friends with someone who wasn’t committed to the same way of eating.

Here’s the thing: though it hurt a bit to feel rejected based on my food choices, I think my friend was quite civil about expressing her values.

Sadly, I have found that some people with my friend’s mindset on diet can get downright elitist and mean when they interact with people who don’t live up to their ideas on what a healthy diet and lifestyle look like.

Take, for example, a message that one viewer sent to a morning show hostess:

“Hi, It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular.”

“Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

The hostess responded to this message, saying

“Now those of us in the media, we get a healthy dose of critiques from our viewers throughout the year, and we realize that it comes with having a job in the public eye.

“The truth is, I am overweight. You could call me fat, and yes, even obese, on a doctor’s chart. But to the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don’t know that,  your cruel words are pointing out something that I don’t see?

“You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family. And you have admitted that you don’t watch this show.

“So you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on the scale.

“That critic’s words mean nothing to me, but what really angers me about this is there are children who don’t know better, who get e-mails as critical as the one she received, or in may cases even worse, each and every day.

The internet has become a weapon. Our schools have become a battleground and this behavior is learned. It is passed down from people like the one who wrote that e-mail.

“If you were at home and you were talking about the fat news lady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat.

“To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the color of your skin, you sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face, listen to me right now: do not let your self worth be defined by bullies.”

Be Happy & stand up to them! Never have doubt in yourself that you cannot change what needs to be changed!

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