Happy Easter everyone, regardless of your spiritual beliefs. Welcome to Spring in the Northern Hemsiphere, Autumn in the Southern.
This Easter has been a bit rough on me. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a good time and had some lovely celebrations with friends over the past few days. But at a time when chocolate is so central to many celebrations, among other foods, I’m feeling a bit worn down by all the food is morality and disordered thinking/behaving that is swirling around me at the moment.
You see the Easter Bunny brings more than just chocolate. He brings the all the strings that are attached to food.
It is no secret that I am recovering from eating disorders. It’s taken me years to retrain my brain to think of food in a different way to how I have done over the first 30 something years of my life, and it’s hard work to keep thinking that way. I have to keep very conscious of the thoughts around food I have and pull up those that are disordered very quickly, to prevent relapses into disordered behaviour.
So it’s very difficult for me to be around others who have disordered attitudes towards food and eating.
From the woman who sits near me almost every day at lunch time with her diet shake or “meal” (I hesitate to call those things food really), staring longingly at my lunch and going on and on about how good she is being to stick to her diet products. Yet she is miserable and asks me things like “Is there chicken on that sandwich?” and when I say yes, sighs longingly “Oh I miss eating chicken, but I’m being good.”
Then there were those starving themselves and repeatedly justifying how they could go to an Easter chocolate buffet that was to be the celebration of a 50th birthday. I sat amongst this for about two weeks, listening to how they wouldn’t eat anything in the lead up, or “I’ve been so good for weeks, I can go along.”
I went, though on looking at the menu beforehand noticed that there was NOTHING savoury, so I had my lunch beforehand and went to it as a dessert, as I can’t bear the thought of all that sweet stuff for a meal, my tummy protests just at the thought of it.
I probably shouldn’t have gone, not because of the food, but because of all of the disordered behaviour around me. The hardest to deal with of those being the ones that starved themselves beforehand then binged when they got there.
I felt terrible all afternoon, despite having a lovely lunch and then some nice dessert afterwards. It wasn’t the food, it was having to deal with and process all the feelings that other people brought to the fore in my mind. I had a whole mix of guilt, shame, anger, depression, anxiety and simple exhaustion swirling around in my mind all afternoon, that I am sure I would not have had if I hadn’t been in the company of some people who have really messed up attitudes about food.
It doesn’t help that these people are far less fat than I am either. I can’t speak up because if I do, I know the thinking is “That’s why she’s so fat, she must be a pig, I don’t want to get like that.” Some of them have even said so, in less harsh terms.
I was lucky however with Good Friday, I spent the day with friends by the bay, talking over a barbecue lunch and the day spent in good company. Nobody had screwed up attitudes towards food, or none that were apparent anyway, and I could feel my soul floating back to where it should be, and my mind at ease and comfortable. Being around people who do not beat themselves up about food was very healing.
However I will confess there was a hangover from the disordered talk of the day before. The friends who I visited on Friday happened to have a set of scales in their bathroom… which, despite my promise to myself that I would never do so again unless it was medically vital, I weighed myself on.
And I survived. I surprised myself by not hating myself for the number I saw on the scale. I saw it, thought about it for a bit, and let go of it. So I am getting better, I am recovering.
Of course Easter is still here, still happening. On Twitter and Facebook I am seeing status update and tweet over and over again of messed up attitudes towards food. People are “pigging out” and hating themselves for eating chocolate. There are all kinds of crazy bargains being dealt, where one can have chocolate now if one does something later, or has “been good” up until now. Then there is the remorse after eating the chocolate, or the hot cross buns, or whatever else they have deemed as “sinful”. Talk about how they’ve been bad, how the chocolate was evil for tempting them.
I just want to scream “It’s just chocolate people! It’s not the anti-Christ!!”
I have got a ton of chocolate in the house. People have been so kind giving me Easter gifts. I am being very conscious of reminding myself that it is not Kryptonite or nuclear waste, it’s just chocolate. It won’t hurt me, and I am not a bad person if I eat some. I can have some any time I want some. Strangely enough I don’t want it much, I prefer cheese to chocolate any day.
How do you cope when the people around you are displaying disordered behaviours and attitudes? Do you struggle with it? What are your coping mechanisms?
This time of year sure brings out the self-flagellators. I am so lucky – none of the family or friends I’ve spent time with have been the diet-talk type. To be honest I don’t know what I would do if they were. I feel the same as you – telling others, who are thinner, how to approach food is asking for judgement I don’t want or need. It’s tough. Sounds like you personally have done brilliantly though.
I don’t know about brilliantly, but I’ve got through it with minimal damage. I’m thankful for my blog as a place I can work through the crap that is heaped on by the world around me.
I’m not sure if it’s that I have been living around Italians for too long, but since I am all grown-up now I don’t really get into the Easter thing (I don’t have any family, except for my partner’s family, and they’re Christian of the kind that disapprove of the bunny and the eggs and stuff) until after Easter, when the leftover eggs are on sale. At Piedemonte’s (an independent supermarket) they actually sell broken eggs for a couple of bucks a kilo. I mostly use the broken eggs for cooking (putting in homemade icecream, decorating baked goods, stuff like that). I just can’t bring myself to pay extortionate Easter egg prices. They’re such terrible value…
I think you should always eat something sweet after dinner, to refresh the palate. It doesn’t have to be much; but I just don’t think a meal feels complete otherwise. I think it’s a very good habit and helps you think of a meal as a kind of narrative event, with a (hopefully) satisfying structure and logic. Not having dessert is like reading a book with the last page torn out. Disappointing.
Sometimes I like dessert, sometimes I don’t. All depending on mood. Though the way some people would talk, it’s the equivalent of slaughtering babies.
I would certainly agree that the body-hatred-talk maelstrom hitches up a few decibels in volume over any time of designated feasting. I have been lucky enough to avoid much of it this year, mainly by refusing to participate in diet talk (change the subject or walk away seems to work just fine.
Walking away isn’t really an option when I’m sitting at the lunch table for my all too short lunch break, and sadly changing the subject seems to only work for a short while. It’s endemic – all talk leads back to diets and food is a sin in my office.
Unaware that Hot Cross Buns were the debbil I have been sampling the delights of them for the past few weeks – these more than eggs are my Easter Treat. I love the soft, fruit packed ones from the bakery (the chocolate ones are nice, but a bit sickly).
I’ve given it some thought and I think I’d rather just enjoy the buns while I can, because they are very delicious, even if I haven’t been “good” enough to deserve them 😉
I actually forgot to have a hot cross bun until Good Friday (which technically, is the day you’re supposed to eat them after all) because they’ve been in the supermarkets so long they blend into the background like everything else.
However the chocolate ones are sent from the devil. Blech! Those things taste foul!
I am by far the fattest person in my office and am constantly surrounded by Diet Talk where I work. Mostly I just ignore it, but a couple times a month, when it gets to be too much, I kind of snap. I offer them the dark chocolate ice cream bars I keep in the freezer, or I describe last night’s dinner (e.g. pork chops in mango curry over a mix of wild and brown rice) in loving detail. Have some sweetened dried cherries! Or a big handful of chocolate chips! Almost lunchtime, anyone else up for some Mexican food?
Basically I transform into Fatshionista’s “Fat Satan” and tempt the heck out of them. I find it helps me, if not them, stay sane.
Fat Satan – I like that!
Can I be “Fat Satan”, too? I am, in the circles that I currently run, the Avatar of Gustatory Temptation. “Oh FFS eat the brownie. It’s a BROWNIE. It tastes good. It’s ONE BROWNIE.”
And then I EAT A BROWNIE, TOO. The shock! The horror!
…what it comes down to for me, though, is that I am not operating on the same wavelength as these folks. I have firmly internalized “it is only food” and have granted myself permission to eat as I please. Everyone else is not operating from the same base assumption, which is why I seem off-kilter to them and they seem off-kilter to me.
The sad thing is that our wavelength is being sold as the unhealthy, the “wrong” one.
Another cheese lover! I too would oft choose cheese over chocolate. Add all the varieties of chocolate and you won’t get near the amazing number of cheeses.
Although the best after dinner plate would be cheese, a few ripe figs or plums, and a truffle or two – all to be accompanied by a nice dry sherry or complex red wine.
I know what I’m going to ask to be put in my basket next year!
Ooh now you’re talking my language. I am a fan of a good cheese plate with some quince paste (or I recently had cabernet paste for the first time – wow!), some grapes and figs, good water crackers and some olives. Om nom nom!
Chocolate is nice from time to time but if I had my true weakness it would be cheese. The very reason I could never be vegan.
I too find it horrifying when the girls in my office, both of whom are probably less than half my size, talk about their diets and how disgustingly fat they are. They never say anything to me, but I know what they’re thinking (kind of like, it must suck to be you), even though they are very nice.
It seems like my extended family (on my husband’s side) didn’t say much this year. But, I believe that’s due to a death in the family and my sister-in-law having breast cancer. When things like that happen, what you weigh and what you eat at a gathering kind of fall to the background. Nobody noticed it and for the first time in a long time, I just ate what I comfortably wanted – didn’t overdo it, and was completely satisfied. It was a wonderful experience and I hope it will be repeated in the future. The food wasn’t the main thing – the people were. It was so nice.
Sorry you had this experience. I have had it many, many times and it’s very uncomfortable. Women are the worst offenders. I’m glad that you’ve gotten back to normal rather quickly!
Keep on keepin’ on and we’re glad you have your blog too – it helps us sort things out as well.
Thanks La! It is always lovely to know I am connecting with someone out there. Makes it all worthwhile.
Yes, I am by far the biggest woman in my office, and among most people I know. Not all, but most. Being a mega-fatty and all. The irony is that I weigh less than people think I do, but they don’t get that the number is unimportant, you know?
So when I try to broach the subject of body positivity, health at every size and the insanity of dieting, the response is a thinly veiled “But I don’t want to be enormously fat like you.”
My coworkers play the “I’m being good” game too. It’s quite obnoxious. For a while, I’ve been reading “The Obesity Myth” by Paul Campos on my lunch break, and I feel like a woman on an island, reading about obesity being okay, and eating what I want and not complaining about it. If anyone happens to try and engage me in the conversation, I tend to try to nonchalantly deflect the conversation, show I’m not interested in discussing it. “Oh, you’re eating Ring Dings? I wish I could eat those, but they’re bad for the diet, and I’m being good.” I reply, “Well, I wanted Ring Dings, and funny enough, Ring Dings don’t have a moral value, so I said fuck it, I’m having Ring Dings.” Most of the time this works to shut them up, otherwise I just have to listen begrudgingly to more nonsense about how much better they want to feel, and blah blah blah. If someone comes to me hemming and hawing about how they want to eat some thing or another, I always reply with an exasperated, “OH DO IT, ALREADY.” I like being able to eat stuff without assigning morality to it. It’s food, it’s what I want to eat; deal with it.
I have had the same thing, reading “The Fat Girls Guide to Life” by Wendy Shanker. Not only does it have the word “fat” on the cover, but there is a cartoon of a cute fat lady too. OH NO, FAT!! NOT FAT!!
I have been able to sneak copies of fat positive books to colleagues, mostly because we have them in the collection (I am a librarian) but mostly I get a negative reaction from the majority of my colleagues.
Thankfully, my friends are far more supportive and open minded. They have to be, they’re friends with Super Fatty.
The worst for me at the moment is the woman who is tiny – under 5 foot tall, and average build, starving herself on diet shakes and potions but following me around like a shadow ogling anything that remotely looks like food. Sighing a lot.
JUST FUCKING EAT SOMETHING!!
But no, she has one kilogram left to lose.
A kilo left to lose? WTF?
Is she the one who misses chicken? Sounds like she needs more protein!
That’s the one. That last kilo and she mopes around stalking anyone with real food.
Hah! My little avatat looks like it’s going “WTF?”
Crap – I meant AVATAR, not AVATAT!
I had to deal with the food police from my sister Christine – who doesn’t have a right in hell to tell ANYONE their fat. I made a wonderful cake for Easter at Mom’s… everyone loved it! Christine said “Lisa, you shouldn’t eat any, you’re fat enough as it is.” My boyfriend Christopher had to be restrained from slapping her.
Then Christine started her usual bullshit, how she’s so much better than everyone else, blah blah blah – so I went out to smoke. Christopher sat there… I’m guessing that Christine didn’t realize that Christopher was my boyfriend… and decided to talk a WHOLE bunch of shit about me… well, at least she didn’t do it with me there – because last time she did that, I beat her ass. I did promise my mother that I wouldn’t do that again at a family function. I was good. I graciously took my leave and went home to eat a nice slice of chocolate cake with twinkie filling and butter cream frosting.
HOLY CRAP! She’d have got a lip full from me, that’s for sure. What a cow!
Families can be the worst culprits at the fat hate and food police, I know mine certainly are. This is why I am estranged from them!