Are people afraid of healthy foods

My new friend Kim and I have been discussing some interactions we recently had with others with regards to food that we had made.  Kim, I hope it’s okay to bring this up! :D

Both of us, unfortunately, found ourselves in a situation where people didn’t want to eat the food that we had made.  Or if they did, it was sort of begrudgingly.

A recent encounter I had, I made some PB cookies for some company.  They ate the cookies and said they were yummy.  When I explained that they were vegan and I used whole wheat flour, they didn’t touch the cookies for the rest of the visit.

What happened?  One minute the cookies were yummy and the next minute my cookies were carrying some sort of disease.

Kim is a vegan and her recent encounter she was wondering if perhaps her visitors thought the food would taste “too vegan”.  Meaning, of course, “too healthy”.

That thought is actually what got us started talking about it a little bit more.  For me it was a lightbulb moment because Kim was exactly right.  Both of our situations, the people who don’t necessarily follow the same diets each of us have, seemed to shy away from healthier things.  As if, since it’s healthy, it obviously cannot taste good.

My visitor didn’t touch any other baked good I had made for the rest of their several day stay.  I had chocolate zucchini bread and breakfast muffins but those didn’t get touched.  My guess is because if the PB cookies were crazy with being vegan and using whole wheat flour, then goodness everything else must be hippy-drippy healthy too, right?

And if it’s healthy, then clearly it is not going to taste good.

It’s a really limited perception of food.

Had I not said anything perhaps my visitor would have kept munching along like nothing was amiss.  Should I have done that?  I don’t know.  Part of me would feel like I was hiding a dirty secret.

It makes me wonder if people are actually afraid of healthy food?  People talk all the time about trying to become more healthy and eating healthy but yet shy away from healthy food.  I have to wonder if it is all talk on their part and they aren’t really interested in discovering more healthy ways to eat.  Or are they just assuming that healthy = flavorless and yucky?

Have you ever had this happen to you?  People shy away and not want to eat your healthy meals?  Do you think that people are afraid of healthy food?  Do you think that they aren’t interested in it or that they assume it is going to taste icky?

19 thoughts on “Are people afraid of healthy foods

  1. Yes, this has happened to me – especially with gluten-free food. I usually don’t tell people, I just serve it. If they ask, I tell. Most people who know us, know that if Jon or I am eating it, it is GF.

    I do think that people are afraid of healthy food tasting badly. I think it is one thing to be leery of trying a “healthy” food, but another to not eat any more once you know it is healthy. Odd.

  2. brett says:

    sometimes i wonder if people respond to healthy food in a negative way because their palates have been numbed by over-processed, over-sweetened foods. a lot of people are afraid of vegetables, and healthy often means there will be plants on the ingredients list. i think it is also related to people’s fear of foods they have never had before. they tend to taste with their preconceived notions instead of their mouths.

  3. Girl, you know you can cook anything for me anytime and I will devour it. It’s hard for me to believe that they ate the cookies, then refused once they knew that they were healthy. That’s just craziness!

    On the other hand, I do think of that scene out of Funny Farm when Chevy Chase was eating the sheep testicles and didn’t realize it. Then, when he was told what they were, he was sick to his stomach. Lol.

  4. You’re preaching to the choir!!!! Some people totally refuse to go near my food. It may be delicious but
    knowing that I made it can immediately suspect. It’s like the fact that I don’t use overly processed ingredients makes it immediately horrible!!! Drives
    me nuts!!!

  5. Heh. I got in a big fight with mom in December, right after I gave up processed food because she told me she was making “homemade cupcakes” and instead served us cake-mix cupcakes (no, not the same thing). Afterwards, my husband confided in me: “You could have made them much better, and they wouldn’t have had so many chemicals.” And he’s not terribly conscious of healthy eating like I am.

    Don’t even get me started about her telling my grandmother that I wouldn’t come to Easter dinner because I “don’t eat anything.” Um, just because I don’t accept frozen pizza and boxed mac and cheese as dinner doesn’t mean I “don’t eat anything.”

  6. Yes, this happens ALL THE TIME! Most especially, right now as my sister is preparing to throw me a wedding shower next weekend. She told me the menu and I kindly requested that she add a few things that had vegetables that were not fried/breaded/laden in heavy cream. She basically told me that no one wants to eat my “weird vegan” food. Apparently vegetables are weird. And It’s my shower, for crying out loud!!! I almost did cry. :) But I got it together and explained that including a mixed green salad and some cleanly grilled veggies would be great. Oy.

  7. I am so happy you wrote about this! It is great to see everyone’s feedback and that others can relate.

    I think Brett really nailed it – people are afraid of it AND used to eating over-processed crap. Steven and I were just talking about this today on our run! It’s so strange to us to watch our families “eat” when we visit – they cook nothing like us. Just a lot of junk! We discussed that we probably won’t live longer because of the way we live, but I did point out that I thought we would feel better. They are getting sick all the time and they never work out!

    We were also talking about how fun it would be to do a farmers market table and have animal-product free products. We talked about how we should label them as that instead of vegan so people don’t get scared away.

    Sigh. I don’t know what people want. But it is just so frustrating for us, when we want to share the dishes we love and they are so afraid!

  8. This is something I haven’t thought much about lately. 10 or so years ago I met some resistance from my family, but haven’t recently. Regarding friends and coworkers, I’ve always worked in health so I’m surrounded by similar interests most of the time. Although, I have had that shunned feeling where people accuse me of eating too healthy.

    I don’t know, I guess I have a bit of a ‘whatever’ attitude. I think what bothers me more than people not eating foods they determine healthy, is people who won’t try new foods or foods of other cultures. Now that really irritates me. :) In some ways these healthy foods do fall into this category for many people.

  9. Stefanie says:

    I am a vegan and love to bake. I’m always baking some type of cookie or cake because my family loves their sweets. When I made brownies one day I told my brother they were vegan. Before he even tried on he said they would be flavorless. The brownies were gone in the matter of 2 days. I have made many vegan cookies that have been eaten without hesitation when told they were vegan but only after they were tasted.

    I think you have to be careful who you tell how you bake. For instances, my second oldest brother would have turn down a cookie/food item if he was told it was vegan because he doesn’t like healthy things. So when he likes something I make and it is healthy, I do not tell him. The rest of my family think it is great that they can indulge a little more because the sweets are a little healthier.

    It can be annoying when no one wants to try a food item because they think it is too healthy. It is their loss though since they won’t partake in the deliciousness. :-)

  10. I would love to try vegan food. I would love healthy alternatives. So feel free to cook for me anytime. :)
    What rude snobs for being afraid because it is a more healthy alternative. Open your mind and taste buds.

  11. I have definitely experienced this with my family and understand how you must feel. I just don’t think people know what to think about vegan or even vegetarian food. It’s not that the food tasted “too healthy” or bad, it’s just a stigma of eating vegan… i think.

    I get so angry in these situations because if it tastes good WHO CARES if it’s vegan? Right? I just think it’s too bad that people would be close minded to try new things just because it’s different. The funny part is, as you said that this stuff was healthier and why would anyone be afraid of that? Seems so silly to me.

  12. Hi Andrea,

    I just found your blog and am enjoying reading your posts.

    I can’t tell my in-laws when I serve them gluten-free baked goods. They see being gluten-free as some weird diet I’ve chosen to go on. I also think they don’t really understand what gluten is and that things taste fine without it, the same way that people don’t understand what vegan food is.

    I have explained to them several times that I have Celiac Disease and will get sick if I eat “regular” foods.

    I’ve learned not to say anything when I bring food to a party or family gathering. They gobble up my pumpkin bread, fudge and cookies every time. What they don’t know, won’t hurt them! I also always bring a main dish that’s naturally gluten-free to gatherings, so that I don’t starve. They can either eat it or not, doesn’t matter to me! I rarely have any left to take home! ;)

    Looking forward to following your blog!

  13. Heather says:

    That does seem weird. I don’t care how it’s prepared – if it tastes good it tastes good. People are weird.

  14. If you told my husband that there was zucchini in that chocolate zucchini bread he might not have eaten it. Really. That’s why my sister’s zucchini bread is called walnut bread.

    If you told my mom that it didn’t have any sugar, and they were peanut butter cookies that were vegan and whole wheat – even though she loved them, she might only eat one. And still may or may not have touched the rest. And that is because she just isn’t attracted to sweets.

    My sister in law made some raw desserts for Christmas, and even though we were travelling the next day we did eat them. They were so good tasting. And spent the next few days without having any obstruction problems. I would have to rethink raw desserts before travelling again, no matter how delicious they were.

    There are many reasons including lowering caloric/fat intake to account for why people don’t eat. I wouldn’t take it personally. I give people the benefit of the doubt without suspicion. Sometimes when people think you’re watching, or preaching they will back off because they don’t want to be part of the science experiment.

    I felt bad at Christmas because my niece made a gorgeous chocolate cake and put in cayenne pepper. When they questioned me I had to admit that I don’t care for it in my cake. My husband and brother in laws girlfriend were almost livid (though not in front of my niece) that she messed with a perfectly good cake. That same niece didn’t eat my pumpkin soup though I had plenty of raves – and neither did my sister.

    Long winded- sorry, but I think it’s easy to judge and take affront when maybe it’s just not their thing.

    • You guys are awesome! This brought a lot of great discussion out and I love it! I will do a follow-up post soon so I can address points and concerns without eating up a ton of space in the comments. :)

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