The all-or-nothing mentality
Did you hear that Michelle Obama ordered a single meal that was unhealthy? I know! This is quite possibly the worst bout of hypocrisy ever from a major political figure and certainly reason for her to shut up forever about how kids should eat their vegetables. By the way, telling kids to eat their vegetables has magically, throw the magical corrupting power of touching the Obamas, gone from something that was about as uncontroversial as telling kids to pick up their room to quite possibly the worst thing a human being could ever do. I suppose now patriotic Americans should not let their kids eat anything that comes directly from the ground at all, just to be safe. Yeah, that zucchini looks harmless enough on the plate, but I've heard that consuming that shit will turn you into a liberal, and better dead than red and all that.
Sure, some may say that Obama has, in the past, never once suggested that occasional treats are forbidden to herself or her family, or even that occasional treats are bad for you. In fact, some might point out that her "everything in moderation" attitude closely resembles the advice offered by medical professionals when it comes to eating healthy. Some even suggest that the occasional treat keeps you from feeling deprived, and allows you to maintain a most-of-the-time healthy diet.
But those people are nuts! Everyone knows that this is America, and in America, it's all or nothing. Your weight should be either ballooning rapidly or you should be losing dramatic amounts of weight in short periods of time, a la "The Biggest Loser". Screw this "healthy lifestyle" crap. Only hippies do that. You should either be eating the typical American diet of junk food all the time, until one day you vow to lose weight, go on a fad diet, lose a bunch of weight while being angry and undernourished and deprived, slip up one day and eat a donut, decide you're a terrible sinner and give up completely on eating well and instead go right back to eating crap three meals a day. Anything else is un-American.
Which is why all these wingnuts are up in arms. Michelle Obama is breaking the rules! The only way to feel after you eat a treat is to beat yourself up, decide that you're a sinner beyond redemption, and give up trying to eat healthy forevermore. But Obama doesn't seem to play that game. She occasionally has a treat and then goes right back to promoting healthy eating. She planted a vegetable garden at the White House, and the White House chef uses it for all the big state dinners and what not they have going on there. It was fun reading some of the menus! I read about potato and eggplant salad, red lentil soup,chopped salad, tuna tartare, petite filet, pea salad, ravioli, wild ramp puree, pear salad, orange glaze carrots with mushrooms, roasted potato dumplings (what a good way to reduce the fat in them!), chick peas and okra, green curry prawns, jicama with oranges, herb green ceviche, and beef with mole. All very tasty sounding, but alas, not a chocolate shake or French fry to be seen.
It was actually kind of fun for me, would-be foodie that I am, to watch some of the videos of White House chef Cris Comerford prepare state dinners. This one was cool:
I have a sneaking suspicion that Michelle Obama is who she says she is: someone who takes exercise and nutrition seriously, and because she takes it seriously, allows herself the occasional treat and shuns the binge-and-purge norm that's foisted on us by the junk food and diet industries. I suspect she doesn't eat hamburgers every day. I suspect all this because as a member in good standing of the liberal elite, I know my people. And that's just how we are. I'm not only like that, but a whole bunch of my friends are, too. We eat crap on occasion, and it's okay, because we mostly eat well. I also suspect it because, let's face it, Michelle Obama looks like she's a frequent gym attendee. In theory, one could be hitting the gym as much as she clearly does while eating like crap. But I'm really hard-pressed to see how, especially at her age. I'm a lot younger than her, and I've eaten junk food for three meals a day for even just two to three days, and even that was enough to make the return to the gym less than ideal.
In fact, I'd argue that Obama is a really good model for getting out of the toxic American binge-and-purge approach to food. She's modeling what non-disordered eating looks like. I think the reason it's so shocking is that Americans have such a disordered approach to food that we can't even deal with it when we see someone who lives the "healthy most of the time, treats occasionally" lifestyle recommended by, oh, every science-based nutrition program imaginable.