I love butter. Not because I’m “keto” or follow a low-carb diet in any regard; I just think it’s a fantastic food, and I love how it tastes. I cook my eggs in it and put it on my toast, and obviously bake with it. My husband teases me about the amount of butter I consume, but he likes it too. We’re just a buttery household.
Earlier this year, the professor for my laboratory diagnosis course was explaining HA1c and how to interpret other blood markers for diabetes. She then went off on a tangent about how her father-in-law had moved in with them a number of years prior due to ill health, and explained that before living with them, his “eating patterns were terrible.” She went into detail about his snacks, which consisted of an entire loaf of bread and an entire stick of butter that he’d eat throughout the course of the day, every day. She then explained how she and her husband helped dramatically improve his health (and the course of his diabetes) through nutrition and lifestyle interventions.
While I know that this was not the intent of my teacher’s story, I found myself with a malingering thought from the anecdote: bread and butter is a “bad” snack choice.
How often do we do that — distort diet and nutrition advice, taking it to an extreme that it was never meant to represent? For example:
- seeing a new “low carb” version of our favorite food and believing it’s “better” or “healthier” than the original
- hearing about a celebrity becoming a vegan and believing that we should do likewise
- seeing an Instagram influencer’s lunch and assuming it’s healthier than ours because they “look” more fit than we feel
- hearing a recommendation that increased fiber intake can lower cholesterol and believing we should only eat fiber-containing foods
I found myself wrestling with a craving for a bread and butter snack just this afternoon, and am grateful that I gained a moment of clarity to hold it captive to the truth by which I live my life: freedom.
Of course bread and butter is not a “bad” snack. It’s just as neutral of a snack as every other snack, and just as neutral as a meal component as any other. There’s nothing wrong with bread, there’s nothing wrong with butter, and as I’ve already mentioned — I love both of them.
But the fact that someone else shared a story of how moving from one extreme of the eating spectrum (excessive amounts of bread and butter, daily) to the other end (restrictive eating) does not mean that any of the foods are good or bad, but rather that a complex interaction among many factors in a person’s life led them to change their health. My professor’s father-in-law is a single man who lived at a single point in time with single, unique lifestyle habits and diseases that have nothing to do with me or my eating habits, or my life.
Just because someone else ate “too much” bread and butter does not mean that I eat “too much” bread and butter.
It’s so important for those of us with a dieting history to guard our hearts against lies. It’s so easy to take benign facts and twist them into extremes, tempting us to likewise become extreme in our approaches to food. Humans were designed for freedom. So we need to guard against becoming bound again by the rules that once enslaved us.
Do you find yourself struggling with other people’s dieting stories? What do you do to protect yourself?