Weighty Matters

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It’s Only Food

on July 18, 2012

I used to always feel like everyone around me constantly watched me and what I ate.  Even if they didn’t say anything, I was positive that they were assessing the portion size and selection and silently passing judgment.   It didn’t matter if I ordered a “normal” entree in a restaurant or served myself a perfectly acceptable moderate portion, I was sure that other people were always thinking that I should be eating far less or something different.

I’m sure that not everyone around me engaged in this behavior, but I know that some at least did.  Just one example was a little something that happened decades ago.  A family member offered me a piece of homemade pie at the end of a nice meal.  I accepted, asking for a smaller slice than the wedges she cut for everyone else at the table.  She served me, but before I ate any I got up to get a cup of tea from the kitchen.  While I was in the other room I heard her say, “I can’t believe Mary’s going to eat that pie!”

It sucked to have so much attention focused on what I ate.  Even now the idea of it frequently makes me extremely uncomfortable.  Now, however, I know that people aren’t judging a large volume of food on my plate because large volume no longer exists in my life.  Still, I can’t help wondering if those who know I’ve had weight loss surgery check out what I choose to eat.

Maybe they are.  Maybe they aren’t.   If they are, it’s probably more out of curiosity than negative judgment.  I’m sure people want to know what constitutes a “normal” portion for me now.  Obviously, I have no control over what other people think or do, but I need to work on my internal reactions.

When I was a kid, I learned to sneak eat when nobody was watching and to hide food, like bags of candy, in my room.  Deceptive eating is not healthy.  It’s a behavior that is fueled by negativity and that in turn feeds the negativity and makes it stronger.   It makes me resentful.  Somewhere along the line I absorbed the judgment that said some foods are “bad” and others are “good”.   Yes, some food choices are healthier than others and I honestly want to cultivate healthier eating habits in the kinds of food I eat as well as the portion size.

That doesn’t mean that I need to live the rest of my life without tasting chocolate cheesecake or fried onion rings.   However, I accept and am willing to eat them sparingly.  I need to make this okay within myself.  It’s bad enough if I feel other people judge my food.  When I do so, it’s even worse.

So,  I’m working toward being absolutely okay with my food choices in social situations as well as private.  I need to learn to shut down the thought that everyone around me is watching my food and adopt an attitude that if they are, that’s their problem.  Carry on, folks.  Nothing to see here.  I need to give myself the emotional and physical freedom to support my own food choices.  It’s only food after all.

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4 responses to “It’s Only Food

  1. Rebecca (one of them) says:

    Yes, I have lost some weight, but I eat several small meals at work, and I often worry about what others think about how much or often I eat. I know I shouldn’t. There I go about worrying about worrying. It’s so easy to assume that others are thinking bad things about us, when they are probably thinking about their own concerns. Anyway just wanted to let you know you are not the only one.

  2. lunarmom says:

    This:

    “……some foods are “bad” and others are “good”. Yes, some food choices are healthier than others and I honestly want to cultivate healthier eating habits in the kinds of food I eat as well as the portion size.”

    Exactly! And how we make those healthier choices are up to US, not them. It’s difficult to change our brains, but we CAN do it. Great post.
    Julie

  3. Briana says:

    My dad does this to me. I can’t tell you the last time I saw him that he didn’t make *some* comment about my eating habits. Which….ugh. I don’t even know how to articulate how crummy it makes me feel. Especially when I am in the process (as now) of trying to do better, but I see him with other family members for a meal out — so I indulge for that ONE meal. His comments can derail the gains I’ve made. I know I shouldn’t let that happen, but I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet!

    • Mary Stella says:

      Briana, it’s particularly tough when it comes from a family member. I wish we could all install a “tune out” button so that we didn’t hear the comments. Big hugs!

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