Healthier Than Thou

by Abby on August 14, 2013

I hope your vegan diet...I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in our society: healthy one-upping. Let me explain.

Let’s say you’ve decided to cut back on red meat by having “Meatless Mondays” at your house. You’re telling a friend about it and she says, “Oh, I haven’t eaten red meat in YEARS.” Then she adds, “In fact, we don’t eat chicken, pork, or fish, either.” Another friend chimes in, “We’ve gone completely vegan – no dairy, no eggs, no animal products of any kind.” And yet another friend says, “We buy only locally-sourced organic food. To supplement what we grow in our own garden, of course. And we’re entirely gluten-free.” Then still ANOTHER friend might say, “Well, I’m on a cleanse and only consuming beet juice and raw kale. Plus, I do yoga 2 hours a day and run 50 miles a week.” THAT? Is healthy one-upping. P.S. Why are you even friends with these people?!

OK, I’m kidding. A little bit. After all, I am a longtime vegetarian and I do yoga. (I’m too cheap to buy all organic and too lazy to grow anything, however.) And I recognize that many people are eating and living better for legitimate health reasons. My husband, for example, is following the Paleo diet to give him more energy without having to consume alarming quantities of coffee and Red Bull. My SIL hikes and eats healthy to maintain her 80-lb. weight loss. And my other SIL – lover of kale – has gone vegan to try to curb her migraines. I also have friends who are allergic to dairy, gluten, and tomatoes, for some reason. When did food get so complicated?!

If we’re not careful, we’re all going to turn into Gwyneth Paltrow. Listen, a friend lent me her new cookbook, “It’s All Good,” and I respect Gwynnie’s passion for healthy food. But I have to draw the line at Vegenaise and raw honey from New Zealand. Some of us can’t afford to buy out Whole Foods on a weekly basis, or spend 3 hours boning and roasting wild-caught sea bass over an open flame fanned with fresh herbs. If I make my kids Annie’s organic mac & cheese instead of the day-glo orange kind, I consider that a win. If I can get them to put real maple syrup on whole-grain Eggos instead of Aunt Jemima’s corn syrup and food coloring on a Pop-Tart, that’s healthy enough in my book.

Now here’s the part where you tell me you make your own gluten-free sweet-potato waffles from scratch and top them with fresh-picked organic berries, right?

RECIPE O’ THE WEEK: I may love to mock Gwyneth (who doesn’t?), but the berry cobbler I made last time was her recipe. The topping is not entirely gluten-free because I was fresh out of quinoa flakes so I cheated and used oatmeal along with the almond meal, maple syrup, and olive oil. Shhh, don’t tell!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca Einstein Schorr August 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm

“Healthy one-upping” is a symptom experienced by the sanctimommy. We are all receiving the same info; we just make different, and no less valid, choices for ourselves and our families. I wish we could all relax a little and be supportive rather than judge the other moms.

Great post, as usual.


Abby August 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Thanks, Rebecca. 🙂 You’re right; I don’t know why one mom’s choice to avoid gluten should affect me at all. Especially since no one in my family is gluten-intolerant!


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