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I have a really diverse community among the four MAM sites.  There are those who are health professionals.  There are those who grew up with real food and never considered another way.  And there are those who just learned that real food is a “thing” yesterday, and they are totally overwhelmed by what to do next!

We also have families who are grain-free, families who are vegetarian or vegan, families who have other dietary restrictions or allergies.  There’s a wide range of ways to eat real food!

It’s hard to be able to address all of those different groups sometimes.  We don’t want to bore those with years of experience, but we don’t want newbies to feel like real food is unattainable for them.  We also don’t want people to feel like there is just “one” right diet — and we occasionally get people who tell us we really ought to be promoting a certain way (which works for them and that’s great, but no, we are not going to exclusively promote one way of thinking!).  We want to be a place that appeals to a wide audience!

Recently I discovered a cool new tip for baking to increase the nutrition of a recipe (and it creates a really awesome texture in a fool-proof manner, too).  I shared this on Facebook (the MAM page) and got a really wide range of responses.  They included:

  • “This is great, I’ve been looking for a way to increase our nutrition in small ways!”
  • “But white flour has zero nutrition…why would you ever use any?”
  • “Just skip that and go for all grain-free baking!”

The reactions troubled me a bit.  It was intended as a baby step tip for those very new to real food.  Certainly there are those who have already chosen not to use any white flour in their homes, or who only eat gluten-free, or who only eat grain-free!  But those can be pretty huge steps for someone who is new to real food.  Baby steps are so vital to helping people make real, lasting changes!  So that got me thinking….

Food Snobbery Gets Us Nowhere

Everyone has a different set of circumstances.  Everyone has different rules for what they do and don’t allow in their homes.  We don’t allow corn or soy in our home (which is easy with very few processed foods), nor artificial colors or flavors.  Our personal convictions have changed over time as we’ve learned and explored more.

We have to be careful not to lay our convictions on others, though.  There are those who may not even know soy isn’t a health food yet.  There are those who don’t seem to have problems with artificial colors and think they’re fine for special treats.  (Believe me — I’ve been accused of being both too strict and not strict enough!)  We are all in a different place in our journey.

It is helpful to say, “Have you considered…” or “Did you know…” because, you know, perhaps someone doesn’t.  “I’d recommend trying this recipe, it’s a healthier version of what you are looking for!” is great.

Where we get into trouble, though, is the sort of strong, judgmental statements about someone’s food choices.

  • “That’s poison and no one should eat it.”
  • “Anyone who really cares about food/nutrition wouldn’t eat that.”
  • “That has no value and shouldn’t be in anyone’s diet.”

We don’t win any prizes by being a food snob or having the “best” diet!

Yes, I use white flour in my home.  (GASP!)  I do not believe it is poison.  I’d rather avoid all the chemical food additives and processed options and use a little unbleached white flour, personally.  Yes, I limit its use to dusting baking surfaces and thickening (so, small amounts at once) and occasional treats.  My favorite “quick baking” is done with a mix of unbleached and almond flour.  Most of my baking is done with soaked whole wheat flour.

But you know what?  We’re not perfect.  Nobody is.  We all make compromises sometimes.  Life happens, we get busy, things get in the way.  I’d rather bake something at home with a little white flour than run to McDonald’s.  Wouldn’t you?

We Were All Beginners Once

When I was a kid, I loved to bake.  I used mixes from a box almost exclusively, with water or skim milk and vegetable oil.  I didn’t know another way!  I even still baked this way the first couple years I was married.  I thought vegetable oil was healthy because it had the word “vegetable” in it.  I thought skim milk was healthy because fat was bad for you.  (Silly me!  But I didn’t know.)

These days I bake with soaked and sprouted and grain-free flours with real butter, coconut oil, raw milk, etc.  But I didn’t get from one to the other overnight and neither does anyone else.  I’ve been working my way through all of this for almost four years now.  I’ve had seasons where we were entirely gluten-free or grain-free or where I might have even said I thought certain things were poison.  But you know what?  I’ve learned to have a little more grace than that, for myself and for others too.

Do I think that we should make compromises frequently and eat a lot of white flour and still use vegetable oil?  Nope.  But I do think we all have different places where we draw the line.  We all are at different points on our journey.  If a mom can say, “I’ve replaced half our family’s white flour with almond flour” and that’s all she’s done so far, that is great for her!  It’s a step in the right direction — increasing the nutrition of her family’s food.

Some of my family members have made some changes, too.  They still eat out a lot and buy a lot of boxed and frozen meals.  But, they have begun to incorporate real, grass-fed butter (Kerrygold), real maple syrup, stevia, real sour cream, etc.  They’ve eliminated high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.  Is it perfect?  Nope.  Is it ideal?  Nope.  But you know what?  Their health has improved!  Baby steps can make a big difference!

Newbies: It Will Happen

Real food newbies, take heart.  Those little changes you’re making?  They’re helping your family, big time.  It doesn’t matter if it takes you months or years.  And you will never completely eliminate everything “bad,” nor should you.  We don’t live in a perfect world!  We get tired, we have bad days, we have limited options.  It’s okay.  And you should never let anyone make you feel guilty for taking baby steps or making compromises.

If you’re not a newbie, remember what it was like when you were.  Remember that even now you aren’t perfect.  Don’t feel so strongly about your dietary choices that you insult those who think or choose differently than you do.  Have grace and understanding for those around you!

What do you think about baby steps…and “food snobs?”

**This post has been entered into Waste Not Want Not Wednesday.**

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11 Comments

  1. […] Food Snobbery Gets Us Nowhere: Thoughts for Real Food Newbies […]

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  2. Hi, Kate! I recently found your blog and I really enjoy your easy-to-read, down-to-earth writing style! This post in particular showcases this and I really appreciate you tackling this topic. There are some people out there who are just down right militant over their food choices (and their feelings on other’s food choices), and sometimes it’s down right scary! Thank you for reminding your readers that we’re all on a health journey, and that the greatest service we can do to each other is to inform and encourage! Thanks again for this post and have a great week 🙂

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  3. Well said. Thanks for the encouraging word 🙂

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  4. Baby steps are huge. I was lucky to be raised by hippies on yogurt, granola, and whole wheat bread. The way I feed my family has evolved since my children were babies, and especially since I read “Nourishing Traditions” more than a decade ago. We all have to start somewhere!

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  5. Thoughtful, intentional eating.
    After listening to and reading about various ways of consuming food over the years, I’ve noticed a common thread. Slow down and pay attention to what we eat and how it affects each of us personally. There will always be those converts to a certain path who are convinced that their way is the only way. Baby steps is a great way to keep from being overwhelmed and find what works for you.

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  6. I am still very much in the newbie stages and thus I am so glad to read this! We are at the very beginnings so at this point we are only sourcing better products, not the best, and trying to cook at home from scratch as much as possible but Taco Bell still happens. Add that my mother is on a fairly low-fat diet and I can’t convince her otherwise and I become discouraged when people go food snob all over the internet. This calm, rational approach is a blessing! Thank you!

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  7. I have been researching and changing the way we eat for about 6 months, so I guess I am still new. The one thing I have seen and have been totally discouraged by, is reading the kinds of food snobbery you are talking about. This change is not easy, especially when I had no idea that I was eating wrong in the first place and having to do all the research myself. My change has come about because of health problems and I had heard nutrition was key in health. The doctors dont give much info, my advice from them was everything in moderation, which absolutely hasn’t worked for me. The first thing I came across when researching was HFCS and so In July I got rid of everything in my house that had it in it, stopped drinking soda (the first change). Then I became a food label reader just to not buy food with HFCS in it. Now when I read labels I am looking for more stuff than just HFCS, like preservatives, but when I started it was just the HFCS. But then more little steps followed as I learned. No more margarine, we switched to light butter, but the more I learned the more we changed, now it full fat regular butter. I have been unable to afford butter from grass fed but my butter claims to have no hormones or other additives. So its a step. I used veg. oil, til I learned canola was better, not really better when I heard about olive oil. so I switched, but then I learned not to use Extra Virgin when cooking to high of heat, so now I have reg. olive oil for some cooking and extra for dressings. Then I learned about coconut oil, now I dont buy crisco. So what I am getting at is that I appreciate the approach you have and the respect you have for others to learn by. I have learned so much from you and your blog and just want you to know I appreciate your words. I was close to giving up on trying to change anymore because of so much that I read until I read this today and your words have renewed my outlook and convinced me to keep trying, and not give up because of the ones who say it has to be done “this way, or that”. You are such an encouragement. Thank you for being so honest and really wanting to help others. God bless you and have a wonderful day.

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  8. Hi! I can’t believe how parallel our experiences are. Except for getting my hands on raw milk..(not for lack of trying-even bought a pair of goats) I’ve gone thru all the same stages as you. Thanks for putting it in persective. I love sharing what I’ve learned and tried, but it isn’t always received well. Yesterday I had some interest in a natural remedy I was using, so I finally had a good reason to start a fb group to share with people who were interested in making a change. http://www.facebook.com/groups/gypsydreams Mind if I share this with them?

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  9. Great post, I agree wholeheartedly! I have a hard time defining myself, too and you can’t always accommodate everyone, and none of us are perfect. I’ve been known to grab sugar instead of honey sometimes because it’s easier (horror upon horrors, right?!) and sometimes I use too much starch in my gluten free bread (heavens, no!), but sometimes you just get a little tired of having to do everything “right” all the time!! It all gets a little better over time, and sometimes I feel guilty for my slips, but we’re all human in the end 😉

    Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday!

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  10. Thank you! And I’m fighting back tears as I write this. Figuring out which changes I can make that won’t cause my DH to just go out and buy candy bars bc he hates the food I make (which is worse than the white flour that I would’ve used originally) is hard enough without people telling me that the changes I *have* been able to make are pointless. This is hard on its own let alone when you have to battle to make any change at all- feeling like it’s pointless makes it even worse.

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  11. […] Sometimes, food snobbery gets the best of us. (Except for me … Ok, it happens to me a lot.) Modern Alternative Kitchen covers this issue in Food Snobbery Gets us Nowhere: Thoughts for Real Food Newbies. […]

    Reply

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