Over the past week and a half or so, I've posted a few times about my attempt to dramatically reduce the amount of processed sugar I'm eating. Most folks who comment (here or on Facebook, or in person) are encouraging. The people I know are being supportive.
But... yesterday I got this comment from "Angel", a reader I'd not previously heard from ..
"How is that a sugar free week? How is that a win? If you actually cook, you won't be eating prepared store bought food that's full of sugar, chemicals and heaven knows what else."
I was a bit taken aback.
This person assumes that because I acknowledged going out in the world and ordering a smoothie, and that I went out to dinner once with a group of friends, I don't "actually cook". Since I eat home cooked meals almost every night, and a dinner out is unusual, I'm not sure where she gets this (unless she only started reading when I headed to New Orleans, where, um ... home cooked in a swank hotel is a tad challenging.
This person also assumes that cooking one's own food will get you away from "sugar, chemicals and heaven knows what else." As we'll soon see, that's not so easy.
But more importantly, this person assumes that anyone starting something new ought to be able to do it perfectly right away. Going processed-sugar free is a huge lifestyle change. Doing it alone in a family that is NOT participating is even harder. If you start from eating a LOT of sugar, as I did, and reduce as much as I did, as abruptly as I did that's a win.
How sad that instead of seeing the huge step that I made, s/he can only lambaste me for not being perfect right out of the gate. If you recognize, as I do, that making any lifestyle change - any dietary change - is a process, then you are more likely to be able to succeed.
In today's world, making dietary changes is really hard. There are things in food that you'd never expect (why is there soy in tuna packed in water?). The food industry uses things like sugar and salt as preservatives, even for things that you think are not "prepared foods". And making things from scratch at home, while rewarding, takes a lot more time than one is used to devoting to food preparation. It's also often more expensive. This means that not everyone CAN suddenly switch to purchasing only whole, unprocessed, organic foods and preparing everything themselves at home (assuming of course, that one knows how).
Was I perfect? no
Will I ever be? unlikely. People aren't perfect.
I replied directly, and perhaps she and I can engage in a conversation that winds up with me learning sources for healthy foods, but I wonder what makes people chime in with negative comments to people they don't even know. I wonder why someone would tell anyone struggling with a dramatic dietary change (or other life change) that what they're doing has been, essentially, a failure because they didn't get it right on the first try. I'm so glad that hers is not the only comment I've gotten ... and that I'm strong enough in my sense of self to withstand what felt like a slap in the face instead of a pat on the back.
Even if others can't see the win in going from the very high sugar intake that had been my daily fare to sugar intake that is so low I can actually point to it, I sure can. (And, I know that others can too, because they're telling me so).