The inevitable holiday post.

It’s true, Thanksgiving is a weirdly imperialist semi-genocidal sort of holiday, but hey, at least we can enjoy the tradition of getting together with family and eating a bunch of mashed potatoes!

Or can we?

If some people’s relatives had their way, the answer would be a resounding HAHA, SUCKER! Because certain people exist only to make your food-eating life as a fat person (or a whatever-sized person) miserable.

So, here’s the thing: whether or not you are fat, you are the only person who gets to decide what food goes in your mouth, what tastes good, and how much of it makes you feel full and satisfied. No matter how many busybodies and dietary conspiracy theorists get in your face, you are still the only one who can decide.

This goes for holidays just as much as any other time of the year. And maybe especially for holidays, given that they have been specifically set aside for centuries as feast days. A time to get your feast on. A time to enjoy food without the usual constraints of looming scarcity, whether naturally- or artificially-imposed.

So, with that in mind, I have a few holiday tips for you. And they are not of the “fill up on celery before the party!” variety.

1) You have permission to eat. Period. You have permission to eat what and how much you want. Food is not poison, your body belongs to you, and you are a grown-up who gets to decide what to eat. That’s it. That’s all. It’s the plain truth. So give yourself explicit permission to eat when you sit down to eat. Remind yourself who is really in charge (it’s you.)

2) It’s your job to take care of your body. I mean, I guess you don’t really have to if you don’t want to, but your body is going to make you pay for any sort of neglect. And when I say “take care of it” that is not code for “eat some ridiculously restrictive diet predicated on the notion that food is poisonous.” It means to take care of yourself in a way that feels good and allows you to function well, both physically and emotionally. When it comes to food, taking care of yourself usually means eating often enough so that you’re not starvingly, desperately hungry in between times, and that you eat enough to feel pleasantly satisfied, maybe even really full, but not physically ill. So, even on holidays, the mandate to take care of yourself with food stands: eat some breakfast. If you’re having an early afternoon dinner, maybe have a snack around midday, or a light lunch. If you’re eating your holiday dinner at regular dinner time, then have a regular lunch. You will actually enjoy your holiday meal more on moderate hunger. Desperation makes things exciting and dramatic, but actually can make it more difficult to taste and enjoy your food. It also makes you cranky and more prone to family blow-outs. Drama-free is the way to go.

3) Eat foods that are enjoyable, but that also make you feel good. For me, this means including roughage and fruits and veggies and whatnot with my meals. Your mileage may vary. You know what foods make you feel good. Milk? Bananas? Chocolate on the side? Provided you like eating them well enough, just add them onto whatever you’re already eating. Make it as easy on yourself as possible. Raw baby carrots will get the job done, as will pre-cut, pre-washed salad from a bag, or some mandarins, or a cut-up apple, or even some applesauce or orange juice. Supplement your meal with feel-good foods, no matter how imperfect.

4) Don’t eat stuff you don’t like, either before the holiday meal, or AT the holiday meal. It is not your job to appease Aunt Bessie’s conscience about her horrible cooking. “No, thanks,” is all adults need to say. Repeat it, repeat it, repeat it if they pressure you. “No, thanks.” It’s a complete sentence. It can stand as an answer even to follow-up questions like, “But don’t you like it? You used to always like it!” Just, “No, thanks.” If they push, they are the ones making things weird, not you. In the wise words of Captain Awkward, “Let it be awkward.” It’s not your job to smooth over the awkwardness from their neurosis. It is your job to do right by your body and not force yourself to eat stuff you don’t enjoy, or that will make you feel overfull and terrible later.

5) Don’t engage with the inevitable weight talk, or talk of food-related sinning (“I’m so bad! This is so bad for you! Watch me eat the entire thing because I am totally in denial about my own neurosis!”) Don’t engage. It’s not your job to educate people about eating, or self-acceptance, or Health at Every Size, although a light reassurance that food is good, and it’s a holiday so lighten up, Francis, may not go amiss – if you think it won’t set off further self-flagellation or lecturing. Gauge the situation. You know your relatives better than I do. But it’s a holiday – you should not have to be educating other people about how to eat on a holiday. It’s your day off. And, here’s a hint, they probably won’t listen to you anyway. So keep your own counsel and save your energy for pie.

6) One simple phrase, “Let’s just enjoy this,” can work wonders. If people are insistent on indicting the food sitting on the table (while everyone around them partakes in it and then feels vaguely dirty), say lightly, “Let’s just enjoy this,” and keep eating. Again – repeat and repeat as often as necessary until they lay off. They don’t have to eat the food if it’s giving them anxiety-hives, or if they don’t like it, or if it doesn’t sit well in their body, but it’s rude for them to vomit their issues all over the food that other people are actively eating and enjoying.

7) In case you were tempted, lay off other people’s eating. Put down that responsibility today. Don’t push food on people. Don’t comment on how much or how little they take. Don’t ask them “Should you be eating that?” or “How’s your blood sugar?” It is not your, or anyone’s, place to police what other people eat, even if they have honest-to-goodness dietary issues. They are grown-ups. If they have health issues, presumably they have seen a doctor and have been made aware of what they should be doing. It is their choice to follow those guidelines or not, and it is not your place to play food cop – doing so is a great way to totally spoil a holiday and potentially wreck your relationship. So sit on your hands, zip the lip, do whatever you need to do to stay out of other people’s business.

8) If the food police descend on you, hear them, then drop it. You can go the passive-aggressive-Southerner/Miss-Manners route and give them a “Bless your heart! Thank you for your concern,” and keep eating or walk away. Or you could go the blunt honest route and say, “I know you mean well, but I know what I’m doing,” and try to change the subject or walk away (warning, this one is likely to start a fight if you have contentious family members. Use with caution.) Mostly, someone just wants to make sure their (usually obnoxious) opinion has been heard and validated, so to save your sanity you can just nod gravely and say, “I see! How interesting. Thanks for the advice,” then completely disregard it and go about your meal. Pick whichever strategy matches best with the unique flavour of neurosis present in your family. Then debrief with an understanding friend or family member later on and get a hug. If you expect this kind of thing, see if you can set up a phone hotline situation with a friend ahead of time – agree to text or phone each other to check in at some point during the day, and offer each other support.

9) Focus on your own food and enjoy it. Eyes on your own plate, if you will. This can be really hard to do on a holiday, ironically, because of all the distraction and hubbub of the holiday itself. So, before diving into the plate of delectation set before you, take a good, deep breath. Give your mind two seconds to settle itself. Take a good look at your food, and smile to yourself, and feel how your stomach is feeling. Smell the food and taste the food. It is usually pretty awesome.

10) If all else fails, go sit at the kiddie table. Sure, they don’t want their food touching other food, and will often end up with peas in their nose, but otherwise they tend to be pretty chill about letting people eat what they eat.

Dig in. Be thankful for your food. That’s what this is all about, right?

Tales of holiday horror in comments.

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83 Comments

  1. Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    As always, I am thankful for your wisdoms. May your holiday(s) be delicious.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Thank you, and same to you and yours!

  2. ksol
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Needed this. Got my first obligatory “how not to eat at holiday gatherings” email from my workplace wellness program this morning. (sighs and rolls eyes)

    If pecan pie is on the table, I’m not going to hide in a @%@$# corner and eat @#$%$ carrot sticks, thank you very much.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      I want to kick your wellness program in the shins on about 17 levels.

      I’m kind of surprised mine hasn’t sent anything like that around!

      • ksol
        Posted November 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Tell you what — you take the left shin, I’ll take the right one. And will you help me hide the body when I get to my annual “wellness” assessment, AKA the “you’re fat” assessment?

        I see the emails and stories go around on this every year. The “Five Holiday Foods You should NEVER Eat!”, the admonitions to take only three bites of the pecan pie, etc. I’m a firm believer in treats as treats, to be enjoyed when the occasion calls for it. It’s just silly to be scared of eating tasty food at a gathering of family and friends.

        And you know, I truly DO like carrot sticks! For realsies. But they take on a whole different meaning when I’m being told I have to eat them lest I touch the cookies.

    • Dnelle
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      That always cracks me up. I’ve never seen anyone totally lose it and go face first into a pie just because it’s there.

      • Posted November 20, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

        I did go face first into a cake once, but come on! That was because I tripped, and the cake looked like it would break my fall better than the picnic table would have. ;)

    • Linda Strout
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Thinking of raw carrot sticks reminded me of this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eosinophilic_esophagitis

      It is an allergic inflammatory condition of the esophagus. Symptoms are swallowing difficulty, food impaction, and heartburn. The disease was first described in children but occurs in adults as well.

      I sometimes have a mild allergic reaction to raw fruits and vegetables, so being told to eat them is unhelpful.

      • Emily
        Posted December 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        omg, i didnt know there was a name for that. no-one ever believes me when i tell them that eating raw carrots is actually painful for me. thanks for sharing!

        • Linda Strout
          Posted December 21, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          I found out from my gastroenterologist when I was checking for celiac. I LOVED finding out that I really was reacting to carrots and other raw fruits and veggies.

          So glad it helped someone. I was hoping it would.

          Special extra tip – if for some reason you have to have an esophageal test (putting a tube down your esophagus), make sure you talk to your doctor about the eosinophilia – it may make your esophagus a little more prone to damage. You don’t want any kind of tearing. Best case scenario – you can’t have solids for a week and will probably be hospitalized. Worst case scenario, you will get to have throat surgery to fix the tears.

  3. Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    De-lurking to say thank you for everything you do. I’m so incredibly thrilled to have found your site recently, read through most of the archives, and had it launch me on my own FA/HAES/normal eating research journey. Your voice is a breath of fresh sanity amongst the clamoring of nosy, obnoxious, possibly well-meaning busybodies. And I’m realizing more and more that not only 99.9% of the media, health-care industry, and science community belong in that group, but so do most of the people I know. How disheartening.

    Generally speaking, I happen to fit into the incredibly limiting band of socially-acceptable-body-size due to fortunate genetics (I guess), but have realized through this research that I’ve certainly got my own issues even without layering judgey eliminationist shitheaddery related to body size on top of it. I recently noticed that when eating in the presence of others, I will force myself to gravitate toward steaks and burgers and fatty milkshakes, even if I am really craving a salad. I never really understood this particular pressure, but I now think it’s related to wanting to make sure nobody accidentally thinks I’m dieting or behaving according to the ‘must avoid all energy-dense food by dint of being female because OMG fat is bad’ script. I guess that in my uninformed little mind, that was the closest I could come to opting out of the body-size-policing system, but in a really shitty way that only enforced more compulsions on myself.

    How dumb is that?

    So I’m giving myself permission to eat a damn salad, or get the vegetarian quiche if it’s what sounds good. Or maybe I actually want that hamburger; I wouldn’t know that if I just felt like I *had* to eat it. We’re grown-ups, as you point out; it’s bizarre how effective we are at manufacturing self-neuroses.

    Disclaimer: totally not trying to make it all about me, or in any way do anything that could be construed to imply that my issues trump or belittle those who have the way harder job of dealing with these shitty societal expectations while being deemed unworthy due to their bodies. Holy crap no. I just wanted to share my own little revelation, and I hope I’m not infringing on anyone’s safe space here.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Wow, that’s really interesting! I’m glad you’ve found a way to opt out of the self-force-feeding hamburger cycle. When you actually want a salad, other things are just not going to cut it. But I appreciate that you were so sensitive to the people around you, and at the same time, you deserve to take care of yourself. Sounds like you’re on your way :)

    • ALKD
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      I have a cousin who is in the same boat as you — you are not alone! She has recently been working with a nutritionist because she had started to lose too much weight without meaning to earlier this year (which really freaked her out!). Learning to eat things that are pleasing to her & are what her body is telling her she craves has been a journey since, like you, she had felt pressured to eat stereotypical “non-diet foods” to prove that she wasn’t dieting herself into the body she naturally had. I, personally, have the opposite body type but it always surprised me how similar her & my food issues actually were on a base level.

  4. Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    (Said in my best Southern accent): “Bless your heart!” Best advice/wisdom I’ve ever seen about holiday eating, and far more useful than that “fill up on celery” B.S.

    • Embersmom
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      I am entirely unsure how one would “fill up on celery”…. :-/ Do people actually say that?

      I am so fond of “bless your heart” as an expression. There’s nothing quite like it up north.

      Happy, drama-free Thanksgiving to you.

      • Posted November 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

        I am so fond of “bless your heart” as an expression. There’s nothing quite like it up north.

        I have tried, “I will give your opinion all the consideration it deserves,” which definitely works in some situations but is not quite so versatile or disarming as, “Bless your heart!”

  5. Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    This is so wise and helpful. Thank you!

  6. Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Beautiful post! I love your way of approaching hard topics with wisdom and humor. Have a very happy and delicious Thanksgiving. Baking a couple lovely pecan pies this very moment, and they smell so good. Pecan pie is my personal favorite holiday food. I usually nibble at the turkey and the sides to save room for the pie!

  7. Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this post–especially timely because there’s someone I follow on Twitter who is in the midst of getting herself educated about food access issues (which she has never had to deal with in her life, far as I can tell) and it’s been upsetting to see her call other people’s food choices “terrible”.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      That upsets me, too. Yes, we can criticize food systems and how little access people have to a variety of foods, but condemning individual food choices is, to me, always beyond the pale. It’s very condescending and patronizing, and it doesn’t help people.

      • Posted November 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        This.

        Exactly.

        I sometimes wonder if those sorts of advocacy are really class markers masquerading as doing good :/

        • Posted November 23, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

          I suspect that they are, often, though perhaps unconsciously. Like a type of impression management for social status. I think we all do it, but it’s worth trying to be aware of, and to try to minimize the hurt you do to other people while trying to make yourself look good.

  8. Alexie
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    It’s not Thanksgiving round here, but we’re getting into holiday food. I have a friend who I think has body issues, and every time I go round, she fills up my plate with double portions, or even scrapes remainders off her own plate onto mine! I never know how the hell to deal with this, especially when everybody else is dutifully eating the second portion she’s put on their plate and I’m sitting there with nothing on mine, while being glowered at!

    • littlem
      Posted November 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Ugh, food pushers.

      I’ve been known to let food I didn’t ask for and/or put on my own plate just sit there. I’ve had to slap the cupcakes out of people’s hands who have tried to force feed me.

      (To be precisely accurate, I only had to do it with one person, and only one time. But imo I should never have had to do it at all. *grumbles, glowers*)

  9. Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Last year, my great aunt said nothing about what I was eating (which was sushi, ribs, and chocolate souffle-the Japanese side of the family), but suggested I spend some time in her gym on the treadmill after the meal was through. I was very pissed off, especially since I worked my ass off to lose most of my weight, I am just never going to be thin enough for some people. Hard to imagine the nightmare that is my mom has chilled out but I have to take that shit from almost strangers.

    Anyway, considering that my dad is cooking, I’ll be expected a low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt, low-taste meal. No brine or butter for the turkey, which is sure to be dry and well done. There will be no gravy, no mashed potatoes, no pie nor cranberrry sauce worth eating. I’ll bring my own emergency food, including sweet potatoes, so I don’t get cranky and bad-tempered, and hopefully there’s decent wine, at least.

    I hate Thanksgiving.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Wine and emergency food…sometimes that’s the best you can hope for. And your great aunt was completely out of line, ugh. I’m sorry.

    • Jill
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Wow, your dad should meet my mom…no, on second thought that’s a terrible idea. They would just egg each other on to even more miserable food.

    • ALKD
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      This is exactly why as soon as I tactfully could, I started eating Thanksgiving with a group of friends or a significant other’s family. Before I could do that, I would just invite a friend or two who were supportive of me to my family’s Thanksgiving so that I’d have an ally.

      I don’t know if this would be a comfortable option for you — I know that the first year I broke away from the family tradition and just had Thanksgiving with a group of friends it made me really nervous. But it was SO FREEING! Surprisingly, it didn’t make as many waves with my family as I thought it would. *whew* And I still went to other family functions where I felt less judged & could actually fully enjoy my time with my family. Because I do love them, and I know they’re trying to be helpful, but my food issues are my own & I’m just trying to deal with them in a healthy way — which may not exactly be transparent to everyone else.

  10. Lia
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Thank you so much for this, Michelle. My family is the worst when it comes to food shaming, and holidays are no exception. I’m going to try some of these tips to keep from having an anxiety attack about being around all of them for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Is it too much to ask to enjoy my food without a running commentary? I feel like all they ever do is talk about weight and dieting. I have more important things to think about!

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Booo, I’m sorry. Holidays are supposed to be for joy! Take care of yourself as best you can. I think it would be great to get a group of cool people together as a sort of impromptu functional family to have a pleasant holiday meal with, either before or after the actual holiday. Just to sort of have a chance to do it right.

      • Lia
        Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        That would be a brilliant idea! Friends tend to be much more supportive than my family, and we all love food – both the actual eating of it and the joy of preparing it for others. Food should be a blessing, not something you vilify and curse.

  11. Valerie
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Just got home for Thanksgiving and have already been told three times “You can’t POSSIBLY be hungry for dinner after you just had lunch!?” Cuz, you know, eating four or five hours ago means I’m good forever. Ugh.

    Needed this post and these reminders today.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Ugh, I have had this experience on occasion. I don’t understand why people feel the need to project their own state of relative hunger/fullness onto others. I tend to eat three meals a day, plus a snack or two, and I understand that other people (who are usually restricting or feeling weird about food) will eat once then virtuously go all day without eating, but I do not need to be held to the same standard. I’m a grown-up who figured out she needs three meals a day to take care of herself, and that is good enough.

      I will often remind people of the time if they make comments like this. “Yes, I ate four hours ago when it was lunch time. Now it’s [dinner time/afternoon snack time/whatever] and I’m hungry again.” People sometimes actually totally forget that time is, like, a thing, and it passes, and then certain behaviours need to be repeated again.

      You don’t go to the bathroom once a day and then you’re good. Same with eating.

      • Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        UGH is right. Some days I really don’t like being part of the human race, especially when I hear about how mean we can be to each other.

      • littlem
        Posted November 21, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        ” People sometimes actually totally forget that time is, like, a thing, and it passes, and then certain behaviours need to be repeated again.”

        *tries not to LOL*
        *fails*

    • Louise Brownlee
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      That is one of my pet hates- “well we won’t need dinner tonight” after a big lunch. How bloody ridiculous, of course you will. Your stomach will have digested that and you will need to eat again, that is how it works! I can imagine the uproar from my family if I produced no dinner because we had a big lunch!
      People need to shut up and keep their stupid comments to themselves!

  12. Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Haha, this is pretty funny. Thanks for linking.

  13. Linda Strout
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Two things:

    1) While growing up my mom had this weird thing about urging everyone to eat more food, them commenting about weight. I think she has mellowed over time, but she still obsesses about food. Although at least now it’s more understandable since she had bypasses and is on a ton of medication and following doctor’s orders.

    2) While taking care of a friend’s daughter’s mice while they were out of town, I noticed they didn’t eat all the food in their mix. Certain items they avoided, I guess because they don’t like them. I find it interesting and charming that animals have food preferences too.

    • littlem
      Posted November 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      I’ll bet the other mice didn’t comment on their food.

      • Linda
        Posted November 22, 2012 at 2:29 am | Permalink

        Not that I know of.

  14. Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    This is yet another of your posts that I will return to many times, I imagine, when in need of a sanity booster. When you are a member of a severely stigmatized group for most of your life (in my case, almost 3 decades), and then you are no longer a member—through an unexpected set of circumstances and unforeseen outcomes—it messes with your head. Badly. As Zadi so eloquently suggested (and illustrated), if you are sensitive to the cruelties of fat stigma, the social road map toward kindness and caring interaction (with others and with oneself) can be confusing and upsetting—even though, in a better (very different) culture, it wouldn’t be problematic at all.

    Some of the most painful social interactions that I have witnessed, and haven’t known how to best respond, occurred during the holidays when my daughter-in-law was pregnant, and she felt the need (apparently) to apologize profusely “…for eating so much!” It was heart breaking. Of course I tried to reassure her, etc. I even talked to my son, later in private, to make sure he understood the (good) reasons for my concern about his wife’s worrisome defensiveness (etc) related to eating and hunger. But at the next holiday dinner, my sweet DIL repeated virtually the same embarrassed little speech. It seemed like she experienced shame related to feeling so much hunger. :(

    Again, I know that I cannot “fix” another person’s pain or “correct” their harmful beliefs. Yet it is difficult to witness the results of social stigma while it does its damage up close, to people you love, or simply in any number of harmful ways that are socially constructed by a dysfunctional culture and are not just inevitable aspects of the human condition.

    At a recent celebration, a pregnant mother sitting next to me said virtually the same words of distress over her need “to eat so much”, and she practically apologized (again with embarrassment) for being “so hungry all the time.” It was one of the rare times when I uttered my professional credentials (RN, thus RNegade) aloud to a stranger in hopes that my so-called “authority” might lend more weight to my words of reassurance. I have no idea if that was a good thing or a bad thing to do (in terms of helping her) because I don’t want to reinforce the idea that professionals in health care fields actually know more (or know better) than anyone else about nutrition or health.

    Another upsetting detail related to these events, which may or may not be coincidental: in all the years when I was very fat, I didn’t hear these kinds of apologies from pregnant women in similar circumstances (at festive occasions.) I don’t know if my own fatness put them more at ease, before (and now they fear judgement because I appear “thin”), or if our cultural norms have become that much more cruel and inhumane, or both…

    As Zadi said, not trying to focus on my own distress, here, as the most important aspect of these experiences. I guess, however, I do need to share that I’m struggling with a profoundly disturbing recognition—from a perspective new to me—of how widely the fat stigma spreads it social (and deeply personal) harm among and throughout human relationships. Viewing even MORE of the (so-to-speak) *collateral damage*—to borrow from military terminology about warfare—from our culture’s ugly social stigma du jour is, frankly, not just upsetting. Often, it’s terrifying. That (spreading terror) seems like the fat stigma’s primary function and source of power, actually, as a force of social domination and control.

    Although fearful of lending the social stigma even more power, somehow, I can’t help but envision a scary two-headed monster that inflicts both fear and distorted thinking about fatness, but also inflicts fear about how powerful and dangerous it appears as a weapon of social domination.

    In addition, I don’t wish to make it all sound like an ivory tower discourse about power. I do belief, however, that contemporary philosophy can help some of us feel less crazy and feel more hopeful for change when we are able to better conceptualize and apply potentially remote constructs, such as the “colonization of our lifeworlds” (J. Habermas) or “mutual aid” (P. Kropotkin), which provide reassurance that what we are witnessing in our personal lived experiences, and what we need to do together, from here, are indeed complex and daunting visions of reality. They are not just overblown reactions to the “ways of the world”. They are not just conditions we should learn to better “accept” and “let go of”—so that we can, each as individuals, feel better about being alive.

    For me, at least, that latter approach is untenable. If that also constructs me as “judgmental”—from the perspectives of some good and well-meaning people—so be it.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Agreed on the returning to this post many times in the future, and on the disheartening stories of pregnant (?!?) women apologizing for requiring sustenance. That’s just… so tragic. Eat what the hell you want to anyway, but especially when your body is going through something so profoundly energy-draining as pregnancy! That’s an extreme case (though apparently not a particularly rare one), and it represents the logical extrapolation of the Must Be Thin societal pressure. It really illustrates the strongly anti-health nature of that message in general. Yikes.

      On a side note, while I don’t have medical credentials (dammit Jim, I’m a mathematician, not a doctor!), I do tend to read nutrition research as a hobby (obviously). However, as a result of this blog and ones like it, I’ve had to unsubscribe to most of my other feeds for that sort of information, because I can no longer ignore and do not with to tolerate the constant OMG Obesity Epidemic tone of pretty much everything in the field. Fat Nutritionist is the only one I have left right now. Ugh everything.

      • Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        On a personal related note, I was in the ER last week with chest / jaw pain. Long story short, all my labs (cardiac enzymes, cholesterol, blood sugar), EKG, stress test this week, everything was normal / negative and the cardiologist I saw yesterday is confident in saying what I experienced last week wasn’t a heart event. I kept waiting, however, for someone in either the ER – where I saw both an ER doc & a cardiologist – or the cardio clinic I was at yesterday to mention my weight. Fortunately it didn’t happen. However, I filled out an extensive form before my cardio clinic appt. It listed, under medical conditions / illnesses to be checked off by the patient, “overweight/obesity” as an illness. I refused to check it off. Overweight / obesity is not a friggin’ illness for heaven’s sake.

    • Bionic Baby Mama
      Posted November 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      In my experience, being pregnant meant a near-constant onslaught of warnings about not eating too much, lest I get gestational diabetes, have trouble losing the weight later (treated as just as serious a problem as diabetes, for Pete’s sake), or generally just be “bad.” Dr. Sears’s book further warned that my eating too much would make my baby fat.

      I am aware of the constant messages about food and body size that all women are bombarded with at all times, but I was taken aback by the heightened level associated with pregnancy (which I was starving hungry for all of). These messages were particularly emotionally provocative, since they concerned not just my own value as a human but also the idea that I might be endangering my child. It was a real struggle to maintain anything at all like a healthy relationships to food during this time. FWIW, I started pregnancy in the “normal” BMI range and specifically addressed with my OB practice my reservations about talking much at all about weight gain, given a history of disordered eating.

      It’s entirely possible that your DIL was experiencing the same. I’m glad you and her husband, at least, were able to be voices of sanity.

    • octopod
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      Really? They shame people for being hungry when they’re pregnant? You are fashioning an entire new human out of your own flesh and blood; how is that not supposed to be a lot of work? WTF. O_O

  15. Patsy Nevins
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    My husband is big on the whole ‘what time is it?” to tell whether or not he is hungry & whether or not anyone should be eating thing. He often will ask me why I am eating when we JUST had (breakfast, or lunch, whatever), & it has been 3-5 hours & when I am hungry, I am hungry. I don’t go by the clock, I eat when I want to eat. Sometimes I wish clocks didn’t exist.

    I wish everyone self-love, inner peace, & joyful, guilt-free eating. And, btw, if your family is toxic, it is also perfectly alright & the sanest thing to do NOT to ruin your life or your day by being with them. Been there, done that.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good point. I think the clock can be a help or a hindrance, depending how you look at it. I like to gauge my eating using my hunger signals, and then use the clock to observe how long I need, on average, between meals. Either way, it’s annoying when you are hungry and other people insist you ‘shouldn’t’ be, or something. It’s sort of like telling someone, “I’m freezing. Put on a coat!” Makes no sense. Not their body.

  16. Jen
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    “to save your sanity you can just nod gravely and say, “I see! How interesting. Thanks for the advice,” then completely disregard it and go about your meal.”

    Yep – that works every time. That’s usually the response to the food police that I use. When they think you’ve dutifully listened to their piece there’s not actually anything else they can really say and the food-advice conversation tends to just taper off.

    But I also get a perverse pleasure from playing stupid with the whole smile and nod and exclaim in astonishment thing – “These buttery mashed potatoes have fat AND carbs? *GASP*!! You don’t say! I have NEVER EVER EVER heard that before! What?!!??! This pecan pie has CALORIES in it? Oh my gawd…”

    Sometimes…. just sometimes I’ve found… if you play it that way people will pick up on your subtle ridicule, realize how preachy and ridiculous they sound and shut up.

  17. Terry
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I have found it hard that family at gatherings that know I have been dealing with up and down weight for years try to put ME in the position of food police. I tell them nicely to not worry about me I will take care of me and they should take care of them but they keep asking: what I can eat, what they should eat, and yes admitting how bad they are being and how bad they assume I think they are eating. I really don’t care, sometimes it is like they are trying to fight me about food. Because they know I have been a dieter they feel the need to confront me on all these issues and think I am monitoring what they are eating and I am just there to say hi and admire the new babies.
    My mother in law ,since passed, used to say there might not be enough food for me to come to family event and once I was there not eating or eating only the food I brought she used to try to get me to eat to cover up how much she was eating.
    My uncle on weight watchers arguing that he could have Oreos and how many etc. because of the point system, I hadn’t said a word, hadn’t noticed what he was eating and was trying to enjoy conversation with my aunt.
    Or another aunt at a BBQ wanting me to talk to her obese teenage grandchild I didn’t know about dieting because her twiggy self had talked to her over and over and it had not worked.
    I have learned a lot about dieting and nutrition in my personal quest for health which includes getting to a stable healthier weight but I don’t put it on other people, because I am physically large I am fair game for confrontation.
    It would be nice if the people who don’t want us or them to focus on food and get fat would stop making it the main topic of conversation at gatherings.
    Have a good one.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      That’s an interesting dilemma, and I’m sure lots of other people have experienced being put into involuntary service as food cops. How frustrating.

      When I was still in school for nutrition, people sometimes assumed that I would be the resident food police at some meal, but I made sure to clear the air and say, “I really don’t care what or how much other people eat. Enjoy yourself.” It usually helped.

  18. Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    love, “Let’s just enjoy this.!” Yay, great post.

  19. JennyRose
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    @Jen – maybe I will say, “What is this thing you call weight?”

    Another advantage of the kiddie table is that no one talks about politics. The downside is they eat fast and leave the table quickly to have fun. Some times I play with them too when I have had it with the adults.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      I used to spend a lot of time playing games (video and otherwise) with my little cousins rather than hanging out with grown-ups. Usually more fun :)

  20. Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    You are SO right on, Michelle! Personally, I’m struggling with diabetes and an eating disorder (binge/anorexia), so I’m terrified of Thanksgiving, and I’ve been invited to TWO different celebrations at different times on Thursday. And I’m not sure about how to handle them, although I’m trying to brainstorm it. So, if you have any spare time, could you supplement me with your thoughts? Thanks!

    • Posted November 21, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Well, first of all, just in case you’re feeling pressured to go to both, you’re not actually obligated to go to both of these events, unless you WANT to. I think your situation makes Thanksgiving uniquely challenging in the first place, and TWO Thanksgiving celebrations on top of that might make it really, really complicated. So if you do not want to go to one, please, please bow out. Tell them you were invited to another celebration, and you will see them next year. You are really and truly allowed to do that. I trade off holidays with the two sides of my family all the time.

      But if you really WANT to go, you can maybe do this:

      Since they will be happening at different times, maybe you can view them as two separate meals, like one is your lunch and the other is your dinner. Or even to view one as dinner, and the other as dessert, or something along those lines.

      That means you could approach your first celebration thinking, “I’m going to treat this like lunch/dinner/whatever-it-is” and eat accordingly. Don’t attempt to stuff yourself to the gills, but don’t restrict yourself from eating the parts you enjoy, either. Perhaps focus especially on the uniquely enjoyable parts of that meal (like if you have an aunt who makes special rolls, or someone makes an especially good turkey, or whatever) and let the rest go. If people pressure you, remind them that you have another event to attend still, and that you are enjoying yourself and the food very much, just as you are.

      Hopefully there will be a little bit of time (even just a couple hours) between actual eating sessions, for you. Even if you arrange to show up at the second celebration AFTER they’ve had their big sit-down dinner, but to join them for pie or snacks or whatever.

      I really don’t think anyone else’s good time should be contingent on you eating, especially eating to the point where you feel uncomfortable. Especially in a situation like this, which is somewhat exceptional, people should be more understanding about it if you tell them, “I literally am having two Thanksgiving dinners today, so I need to save room.” If they’re not understanding, listen to them whine for a minute, then smile, verbally agree in some innocuous and noncommital way, and change the subject while still doing whatever the hell you were going to do anyway.

      Navigating all this with diabetes and an eating disorder is going to be especially tricky, but if anything, you need MORE space an autonomy around those issues, not less. If you can, sit down and sort of make a meal plan for your day, and see how you can work the two celebrations into that plan. Don’t get fussy about what or how much you’ll eat, just sketch out a rough idea of what meals you’ll have:

      -Breakfast at home
      -Late lunch – celebration #1
      -Dinner – celebration #2
      -Dessert after dinner

      I don’t know what kind of treatment you’re doing for diabetes, but include in there when you will take your medicine or insulin, and/or check your blood sugar.

      I think the structure will be useful, both for your sanity and for your blood sugar. Don’t forget to eat a good mix of carbs WITH protein and fat at your meals. Hopefully that will help keep you a little more nutritionally balanced. And see if you can grab a quick walk in between meals or after your last one (my family always liked to go for a slow, full-stomach, leisurely walk after Thanksgiving dinner to recover from the food coma. It seemed to help!)

  21. Becky
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    I have a question regarding this. I’m 25, but still quite sensitive to the authority of my parents. How do I deal with my mom telling me to stop eating because I “had enough”?
    I just love munching away on the chocolate presented for me, but my mom will be all “you had enough, stop eating else you get sick”. I know full well when to stop eating.
    If I don’t listen, she pretty much just takes it all away on the argument that I “had enough”.
    Any tips?

    • Posted November 21, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Wow, that’s pretty intense food-policing there, Becky.

      You are 25, which means you’re a fully-functioning and well-past-legal adult.

      I think you will have to decide whether you want to have a full-on showdown about this issue, or avoid confrontation. I can see either route being an option, depending how much energy you have.

      But, honestly, the truth is your mom is stepping over some major, major boundaries and she is completely out of line. You could tell her that, but you will have to deal with her response and I won’t.

      Has anyone here ever successfully dealt with such a situation? Advice?

      • Posted November 22, 2012 at 2:31 am | Permalink

        Well, successfully….
        Mny years ago, in a similar situation, I went for confrontation. (My family does not take subtle hints)

        My mom did not talk to me for a year and I was informed that I was not welcome at her place for Christmas. That did hurt, but when I look back, that year was one of the best I ever had. No busybody interfering relatives for a year. It became quite clear how certain relatives felt about me. But I learned to live with that. And they still are very careful around me. I’d do it again, if necessary. But I am not sure if it works for you.

  22. naath
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Oh god, I have such rubbish holiday-food issues it’s untrue…

    Fortunately though here in the UK we don’t “do” Thanksgiving so there’s “just” Christmas to fret about.

    I don’t really like most of the trad. “Christmas dinner” things; I find my parents’ (and I usually do Christmas at my parents’) ethical choices are often not the same as mine and have to fight the impulse to row about it… so most of the food really isn’t something I actually *want* to eat. But on the other hand eating is such a good distraction from fighting about stupid shit; so I tend to eat waaaay too much (for me) which is painful for me and makes me feel sick and often since it wasn’t the food I actually wanted… not satisfied.

    Also my mother does this stupid “you’re fat, you should eat less” thing AND THEN turns right around and says “more turkey? don’t you like my cooking? do you want this to go to waste!” ahahahaha yes I can SIMULTANEOUSLY eat less AND eat more… strange logic you have there Mum.

    • Posted November 21, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      All I could do was laugh bitterly at your post. I am so sorry. I wish I had any words of advice, but I don’t. However the humour of people wanting you to simultaneously eat more and less is not lost on me.

    • Wendi
      Posted November 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      That sounds EXACTLY like my ex-mother-in-law.

      “John, there’s one piece of this left, do you want it? John, there’s a little of that left, here, eat this, OH MY GOD, JOHN, YOU ARE SO FAT YOU NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT!”

      I finally went off on her and just yelled “HE’S NOT GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT IF YOU KEEP SHOVING FOOD DOWN HIS FACE! HE’S NOT YOUR DAMN GARBAGE DISPOSAL! WE AREN’T LIVING IN THE DEPRESSION ANY MORE! JUST. THROW. IT. OUT!”

      …I suspect this may have possibly been one of the factors involved in her remarkable lack of distress when I divorced ‘John’. It *did* shut her up, though.

      *Disclaimer: As advice, this anecdote has limited applicability. It won’t make things easier, but it may be so personally satisfying as to make up for the passive-aggressive silent treatment that is likely to follow.

      • Posted November 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        “HE’S NOT YOUR DAMN GARBAGE DISPOSAL! WE AREN’T LIVING IN THE DEPRESSION ANY MORE! JUST. THROW. IT. OUT!””

        – Reminds me of a story with my in-laws. They have a root cellar on their property. They offered us some potatoes and carrots that were stored in it thusly” Well we were just going to throw it out, but did you want some?” Um..if it is to the point of throwing it out, why do you think it is edible enough to offer to anyone. We declined. And yes they lived thru the Depression.

    • Louise Brownlee
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      I don’t really like Christmas food either? Here in New Zealand it is summertime and my mother in-law, with her posh upbringing, insists every year on serving three kinds of hot meat, overcooked peas and potatoes, and a horrible dry Christmas pudding with custard out of a packet. Uggh! Yuck, I hate it. It is too hot to be eating all that in the middle of a summer day. When we have Christmas at home without crazy family members, it’s seafood, salads, seasonal fruit, a picnic on the beach and pavalova for pudding! Much nicer. And I don’t get the unnecessay “weight” comments from my mother in law while she forcing her nasty food on me! Sadly this year we are heading up North to said mother-in- law because it is “our turn”. :-p

  23. Kim
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Michelle,
    Just wanted to take this opportunity to express that what I’m most grateful for this Thanksgiving is you! Your words, your spirit, your knowledge, and your willingness to put yourself out here in cyberspace for all of us in need of support and guidance are priceless. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being able to connect to the community you have created here. Thank you so much for being you and for sharing yourself with us!

    • Posted November 21, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      Aw, thank you, that is so sweet.

  24. littlem
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I am so grateful for this post.
    Thank you, Michelle!

  25. Jenny
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Another response I’ve been known to use:
    “Did you know that that has a gazillion calories, is mostly fat and will go right to your thighs like you applied it with a spatula???”

    “Yes, and it’s DELICIOUS. Would you like a bite?”

    • Posted November 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      You could also ask them to go ahead and apply the food to your thighs with the spatula. If they’re family, they’ll be so weirded out they’ll leave you in peace for the rest of the day. If not, well. It never hurts to ask.

      • Jenny
        Posted November 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        I *know* that image creeps ME out ;-)

  26. Linda
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    I’ve been looking over family photos of my immediate family as well as grandparents and great aunts and uncles. We tend to be a plump people, on both sides. Sure there is the odd thinner person, but mostly we are rounded. As kids, as teens, as adults. Even my grandmother’s 1920’s photo shows rounded arms, even if she isn’t in any sense overweight.

    Not sure why my mom started fretting about weight (and passing it on to us). None of us are in the naturally thin category.

    Incidentally, we watched part 2 of the Dust Bowl special PBS just put on. Despite being in desperate straits foodwise and very likely working physically hard, none of the people looked unusually skinny. I’m sure they were malnourished and constantly hungry but it wasn’t obvious by looking at them. Could it be biology conserving what little calories they had? Only their DNA knows for sure.

  27. Lincoln
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this. I’m negotiating a lot of food issues right now. I’m on medication for fibromyalgia. It’s killed my appetite, and in two months I’ve gone from an extra large boxer brief down to a medium. I haven’t been weighed recently, but my fiancee and I estimate I’ve probably dropped at least 40 lbs. Maybe 50. Last time I was weighed, I came in at 179. I’m almost 40 years old, and not that tall.

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to navigate this. I’ve tried eating by the clock to make sure I get an afternoon meal. Otherwise I don’t get any hunger signals between morning and around 8pm. I want to listen to what my body’s craving, but there’s been a large increase in junk food. Honestly I’m at a loss.

    Oh, and for folks navigating tricky holidays in a lot of ways, I found a fun article on Facebook that gives you step by step instructions about how to pick a fight with relatives. :-) Enjoy!

    http://tinyurl.com/aw5cwp9

    • Posted November 23, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      I’m sorry to hear that. Appetite death is a real pain in the butt.

      I think you’re wise to eat by the clock, even if you’re not hungry. Right now, hunger signals are being blocked by your medication and possibly your underlying condition, so strictly intuitive eating might not be the thing for you, especially since you’ve lost a lot of weight in a short time. Junk food is not necessarily your enemy right now, either, since it’s calorie dense and palatable and might taste better to you than other things at the moment. But it might be nice to use it as a kind of supplement instead of replacing “regular” food, if possible. That way, you can make sure all your nutritional bases are covered. If you can tolerate eating regular sorts of foods, perhaps just beefed up with extra calories from added fat, at mealtimes, and then supplement with snack foods at snack times, it may help.

      You’ll have to decide whether or not you think you can face food 5 or 6 times a day. If it’s not making you nauseous or giving you really negative associations with food, it might be worth a try to have a structure that includes breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and perhaps evening snack or dessert. Even though it would require eating more often, it also means you wouldn’t have to try to tackle one big mountain of food at any given meal. Again, if you’re not nauseous or having really negative reactions to food, make sure the food is as delicious as possible. Eat your favourite foods more often. Bump up to the highest-fat version of milk/dressing/ice cream/whatever. Melt cheese on things. Make it worth dealing with.

      One crucial thing to remember, so that this doesn’t become a pressure-filled situation: you are just OFFERING food to yourself, at certain times. You are just setting the food in front of you, and then navigating how you feel about it, and eating what you can tolerate from what you’ve provided. You need to give yourself permission, when you sit down to eat, to eat what you want and leave the rest. Ironically, this will often end up calming you down so that you can eat more of the food, rather than feeling overwhelmed and obligated. If you can’t eat something, you need to let yourself off the hook about it. There will always be another meal coming. Infinite do-overs.

      Nice link. I laughed out loud at “I’m thankful for all that free stuff Obama gave me.”

      I hope you feel better soon!

  28. Britney
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    it took me three times of saying no thanks for my family to finally listen to me about not wanting a take home plate. When I said no the first time it was like my mom didn’t even hear me , and told my dad that I was getting ready to get one . When he asked the second time it was like I said I didn’t want one , I think he thought it was just because I didn’t want to move cause he gave me a look . The third time my mom tried I told her no and she was like are you sure I told her yes and the message finally got through . Thank you for your no thanks rule :)

    • Posted November 23, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Third time’s the charm! Good for you.

  29. Mandy
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    This is a wonderful post. Actually I find that a lot of the advice is helpful to me outside of the festive season too,particularly the part about dealing with the Food Police.

  30. Laurel
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Just reading your work over the past few months did a lot to empower me over the holidays. There wasn’t a huge amount of shaming talk but there was some. I found the way through it was mostly to ignore it and feel happy about my choices, whether eating or not. I also said once “Let’s enjoy it” in a kind manner. I realized that by being a model for what I wanted I was helping a lot more than by trying to spell out by telling or lecturing others on what I think makes sense about food and eating. I love myself and my body so much more after reading in these areas and I feel more secure in my own choices about food, exercise, and my mental attitudes. Thank you for being a voice of reason in a stress-choked world. Peace.

  31. Hannah
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Ha! The final, kiddie-table solution has been my jealously-guarded secret for 15 years of fat-shaming family dinners. In general, I prefer to sit with the under-12 group ANYWAYS, less vicious sniping, more heated debate on which Avenger would win in a fight.

  32. Linda Strout
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanksgiving trip to parents went more or less well. There were a few comments about food/eating. I myself was guilty of saying “Really?” to my brother after he said yes to pie while I was still feeling very full.

    On the other hand, because I took time to examine pictures of myself and my family, when my mother commented on how I needed to lose some weight to get rid of my double chin, I was able to calmly point out I had always had it and showed her a high-school picture of myself with a big smile and the double chin.

    I also secretly rolled my eyes when my sister-in-law said my mom looked great (at her lower weight of 130 pounds) instead of whatever she used to be. My mom has had bypass surgery, stents, is on a lot medication, a strict diet and is required to exercise to keep her blood vessels working. I tend to think of her as starting to look frail. *sigh*

    I hope everyone else had a decent holiday

  33. Emily
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    It’s not your job to smooth over the awkwardness from their neurosis.

    That’s absolutely true. And great in theory. But what if your family is built on the idea that certain people’s neuroses about certain things must always be appeased? Simply shucking it off with “it’s not my job to appease them” suddenly makes you the one whom everyone feels they have to appease. It’s not a simple matter to completely opt out of one’s family’s culture.

    I think if you want to take on the job of smoothing things over and appeasing neuroses, just to get through this stuff, then go for it. Nod and smile. There’s nothing wrong with claiming to your aunt that you’ve discovered you have a marshmallow allergy when she tries to get you to eat the ridiculously sweet sweet potato casserole. Or telling your uncle who keeps ribbing you about getting married that you’ve decided to be celibate as part of your spiritual growth, and would he like you to send him some brochures? Sometimes we have to pretend to be someone we’re not, especially with extended family, and that’s perfectly okay.

  34. Saartje
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    So, last week, at a family dinner, my mum was serving ice cream to everyone. My husband passed a bowl over to me, but my mum stopped him, saying ‘that’s your bowl, here is your wife’s’ and handed him a tiny portion for me. Of course she added ‘then you can have seconds’, but I was furious, as was my husband. I’m sure she is concerned for my health, but this just makes me so sad…

    I’m not fat, not even really overweight, just a tad chubbier than is considered ‘healthy’. I’m actually healthier than average, I think. At least, I feel very healthy. I eat well, with pleasure, I also like to eat french fries once a week, and I like sugar in my tea. I go jogging, half an hour twice a week, because I love being outdoors ( I run along a stream and through the fields) and running makes me feel good. I bike to work, because we only have one car and I like the relaxing effect of cycling home after a stressful day. I do stay ‘chubby’, and although I feel fine, my mother just won’t stop telling me to lose weight…

    Now I’m pregnant and like in my first 3 pregnancies, I am nauseous and tired and eat like crazy :-). I was really worried about this the first time round because I had vowed not grow fat like all those women who use pregnancy as an excuse to eat chips all day. So I grew fat on very healthy food, LOTS and LOTS of good food :-). I didn’t diet and I didn’t eat chips all day, I just ate what I felt like eating, the way I always do. And after giving birth I lost my extra kilos without dieting, slowly but surely. I have to admit I feel sick most of the time when I’m pregnant, and being very fat at the end is not comfortable, I would prefer being a slimmer pregnant lady, but I think I have to accept that this is the way my body works. And I don’t see how denying myself the food I crave is going to make me feel better.

    Anyway, during my pregnancy the weight-nagging from my mum becomes even worse. There is no way I can convince her that short of tying my hands on my back and sewing my teeth together, there is no way I can stop myself from eating the way I do. So, last week, at a family dinner, my mum was serving ice cream to everyone. My husband passed a bowl over to me, but my mum stopped him, saying ‘that’s your bowl, here is your wife’s’ and handed him a tiny portion for me. Of course she added ‘then you can have seconds’, but I was furious, as was my husband. I’m sure she is concerned for my health, but this just makes me so sad…

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