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Healthy, or just picky?

(article, Culinate staff)

Are you dreading what to serve at tomorrow's Fourth of July picnic, because everyone coming has a dietary restriction? You're not alone; as the New York Times recently noted, "Our appetites are stratified by an ever-widening array of restrictions: gluten free, vegan, sugar free, low fat, low sodium, no carb, no dairy, soyless, meatless, wheatless, macrobiotic, probiotic, antioxidant, sustainable, local and raw."

No longer, pointed out author Jessica Bruder, do we simply diet to lose weight or remain thin; now we rearrange our foods to feel virtuous, whether we think we're staving off cancer, boosting our moods, or simply eating whole foods. And by controlling what we eat, we assert control of ourselves:

bq. Consumers seem to be building self through sustenance, adjusting their appetites to reflect independence and moral character. In numerous interviews with restricted-diet adherents and those who study and feed them, control and identity were two common themes on everyone’s lips. 

We're also asserting control over others; as Bruder wrote, we now expect party hosts to accommodate our preferences:

bq. Joanne Heyman, who owns a consulting firm in New York, thinks that . . . “the locus of responsibility has moved from the eater to the hostess.” . . . “The distinction is not that people have restricted diets,” she said. “It’s their attitude about whose responsibility it is to meet their dietary needs.” 

So have you checked your guest list yet?