Weighty Matters

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Understanding Myself / Having Others Understand

on May 11, 2012

I’m up in Connecticut for my cousin’s memorial service.  This afternoon, I visited with my aunt and my younger cousin’s family.  I last saw them in December when my uncle passed away.  They all knew that I’d be having weight loss surgery the following month.

We’re Italian.  To some extent, this means that we are genetically and culturally programmed to focus a lot of our attention on meals and eating.  Any plans to visit involve the hostess to think about what to buy, fix and serve for a meal.  Whether people only eat a little or plan to eat a lot there just has to be food around, with a strong concern that the people being served will want it, eat it and like it.

I’m the same way. When I make plans with friends for them to come over, I then immediately start thinking about what to serve or, at least, what to arrange.  Sometimes I cook and other times we mutually decide beforehand that we’ll order in, but there will be wine and there will be food.

I know this.  I embrace it.  I am comfortable with this practice.

That said, I also know my aunt and that, while she might hear me say, “Don’t fuss.  I really don’t need anything other than some protein — meat, cheese, heck, a couple slices of deli ham and I’m good to go”, she’ll still fuss.  Fussing is in her nature. 🙂  I called her yesterday, just to touch base.  Yes, in the phone conversation she asked what I could eat.  I told her not to go to any trouble and that I knew I’d be able to snack on anything she happened to have in the house.

When I got there this afternoon, after about ten minutes of visiting, she asked if I was hungry and explained that she’d taken some chicken breast, lightly cooked it in the pan and had that ready.  Did I want it over salad?  Would that be enough?  If not, she also had some cheese and some low-sodium ham.  I assured her that the chicken would be perfect and that I’d have some salad after if I had room.

After an hour or so of chatting, we  started to gather for a meal.  She brought out her chicken, all concerned about whether it would indeed be okay and would I like it.  In all of my life, I don’t think there’s ever been anything that she’s made for a meal that I haven’t eaten and enjoyed.  So, the uncertainty surprised me.  I thought about it while I sliced off a couple small pieces of chicken and slowly ate.

While I ate, I realized that this whole experience of having me in for a meal now isn’t the same as it was all the previous times and years of my life.  She’s watched me eat hearty meals for over 50 years.  I don’t think she’s ever eaten with a weight loss surgery patient before and she’s certainly never seen me eat so little — except maybe that time when I was a kid and had a 103 degree fever.  

I think that it was more a question of whether what she offered would be the good choice for me rather than whether the food itself would taste good.  Further, I believe until she experienced sharing a meal with me now in my new normal, she couldn’t know for sure.  Once she saw that I was absolutely happy and satisfied with the small portion of chicken and then the spoonful of salad, she relaxed.  Now it isn’t a new experience anymore and I’m positive she’ll be less nervous the next time.

I will be too.  Each time I travel or go somewhere out of my normal environment, I learn more.  I might not be able to 100% always control my eating environment, but more and more I’m learning that I can meet my nutritional needs and goals no matter where I go.  Understanding this about my life and myself relieves a stress that I didn’t know I carried.

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3 responses to “Understanding Myself / Having Others Understand

  1. pinkpelican says:

    It’s great that your family is being so supportive. I’m so grateful that mine are as well! Hugs to you and your family in this sorrowful time.

  2. robenagrant says:

    Yes, big hugs, Mary.
    I like how your aunt was sensitive to your needs and wanting to get it right. And yes, now that she knows how you respond she’ll be less worried next time.

  3. I know this is going to be a hard day for you and your family. Sending hugs.

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