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Stop talking to people about their lunch (and dinner, and afternoon snack, and…)

January 21, 2014

I don’t know if I’m the only one with this problem.

I get really, really uncomfortable when people around me fixate on food. Not their own food, my food. The food I am eating, the food I do not want to eat, food I could be eating, food I am thinking about eating.

“What are you eating?”
“That looks good.”
“Something smells good.”
“How did you make that?”
“Did you buy that?”
“What are you having for lunch today?”
“Laura’s lunch looks good today.”

Every. Day. From someone I have no choice but to see every day. And who also does a lot of other inconsiderate things, but that’s another story. It’s not just me. Everyone’s snacks or lunch are up for scrutiny and endless discussion. Is it not rude to crane your neck to look over at the person sitting next to you eating almonds or jelly beans or whatever and simply ask, “what is it?” as if what you or anyone else eats is for everyone to know all the time? I don’t know. My mama taught me better than to stick my nose in other people’s business and snacks, but maybe things are different where we’re from? That or I’m pretty sure it’s just rude.

All of this would be annoying enough for a regular person, but when you have food issues, it’s an absolute nightmare.

Today this person went from just talking to making a judgmental comment. That I claim to count calories and yet she always sees me eating something. I said nothing, because I don’t want to into trouble or whatever, but I am still livid about it, hours later.

I’ve written about my food issues here before. Anyone who has read this blog or spoken to me about this stuff knows my deal. The thing with the weight is that it’s sometimes a defense mechanism and sometimes it’s just a way to treat yourself badly because you think that’s what you deserve, for reasons that you are working on and that aren’t really things you ever want to share. And food is not like alcohol, or cigarettes, or drugs, or whatever else your self-hate manifests itself in. Food is not something you can quit, so your only choice, really, is to improve your relationship with it.

Which is a daily struggle. I would say I have a healthy relationship with food maybe 50 per cent of the time, which is better than zero per cent of the time where it used to be, but it’s something I have to work hard at every single day. Food and I are working things out.

But it’s nobody’s business but mine, and people talking about it and judging my choices brings all of the food shame back and sets me back. Just like you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t, but I wouldn’t put it past this person), comment on someone’s relationship struggles with a spouse or family member, you really shouldn’t talk about someone’s relationship struggles with food or their body.

I had so many horrible things I wanted to say, but in the interest of not being a shitty person and also not being a shitty coworker, I went out on break and did that rage tears thing instead. What I really should have done was what my friend Vinny suggested and smugly asked her how many half marathons she has run.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2014 9:54 pm

    I’ve discovered over the years that I’m not always the best person to talk to about food and weight issues, because sometimes I can’t help the Reformed Fat Person thing of talking about what I did and occasionally offering unsolicited advice, but also sometimes I can’t help the Graduate Student thing of talking in terms of the science. Neither of those are things anyone especially gives a shit about 98% of the time; it’s just not helpful. I’m learning.

    That said, unless something spells especially good, I don’t really comment on other people’s lunches. It’s food. It’s not the most interesting topic of conversation with anyone I’d actually want to eat lunch with. And I certainly wouldn’t cast judgment on someone for their eating habits. I don’t know if it’s a low-calorie snack, if they train for marathons, or what their deal is. It’s just not my business, except in the unlikely event they solicit my opinion. I just don’t get what that coworker’s deal is, unless it’s a long-game neg of some kind.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      January 22, 2014 8:58 am

      It is a long-game neg. In September she told me the picture of me at my cousin’s wedding was unflattering but that she can do a photo shoot if I want.

  2. January 21, 2014 9:59 pm

    Oh, and Vinny wins the conversation. I’d keep that one in mind for the future; somehow, I suspect you may need it.

  3. January 22, 2014 10:16 am

    You’re certainly not alone, I’ve gotten so uncomfortable eating around people I don’t remember the last time I sat in the lunch room or a group. It’s like everyone becomes a nutritionist the moment noon hits. “Hey look you’re eating fruit, are you dieting? Good for you but be careful, make sure you eat enough but not too much. You know what else you should be eating? blah blah blah”

    You’ve accomplished more than any of your stupid coworkers may wish to ever do. Relationships with food aren’t easy, mine is completely messed up right now and not in the eating too much junk kind of way. It’s a process, I’m trying to get my head wrapped around it and people like you and Steph are what keep me going, I hope you know how fantastic your openess about the whole thing is to people like me.

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