I’ve always been fairly open about my eating issues. Even though I did find binge eating disorder shameful, I was still able somehow to get over that enough to tell my parents, therapist and even talk about it with boyfriends in my 20s. My husband, of course, knows everything, and well, so do all of you!
Whether you keep your food issues on the down low or not, we all have to deal with other people when it comes to food. Still, I’ve had to negotiate truces about foods my husband and I keep in the house, and come up with strategies to stay away from types of foods or eating that might trigger strange feelings or a binge at work.
That’s what I wanted to talk about today, how we deal with the issues of eating with our friends, our sig-Os, our parents. I’ll share a bit of my story, but I want to hear yours, too!
DEALING WITH FRIENDS
My therapist and my mom knew that I was binge eating when I was in my teens, but there was no way in hell I was going to tell my friends about it. I was way too ashamed at that age and felt like only grown ups would understand.
In my mid-20s, after I’d started healing and wasn’t so active in my disorder, I remember telling a roommate about it. For one, I needed to explain to her why I’d basically stolen her cereal and finished it off, and I wanted to apologize. Two, it felt freeing to discuss it with someone my own age. She was forgiving, supportive and wasn’t shaming.
But what about friends who try to push food on you? Morgan has written about this issue before—and I agree with her that it helps to sort of have a couple of canned responses ready for when someone is being pushy about offering you food that you don’t want, or that makes you uncomfortable. That used to happen to me at work quite a bit—the office has quite a sweet tooth, and there are often cupcakes and candies at meetings and for birthdays. “Free” food and midday grazing used to be a bingeing issue for me, so I prefer not to nibble much at work (outside of my usual afternoon snack). My response whenever I was offered something was simply, “No thanks, I don’t eat sugar in the afternoons.” If anyone wanted to know why I said, “It makes me feel weird.” That seems to placate most people—either that, or it confuses them and they simply decide to give up.
DEALING WITH SIGNIFICANT OTHERS
There is so much I could say on this topic! My husband has known about my history of binge eating disorder since before we started dating (we were friends first), so I never felt the need to lie to him. But he’s a normal eater with a big appetite and a pretty hearty sweet tooth, so there have been plenty of times when we’ve been discussing which restaurant to go to or what to order when my particular nutritional needs have caused friction. For a while last year, I wasn’t comfortable eating pizza, and he hated the fact that I didn’t want to order it in anymore. My fix: “You can order a pizza if you like, but I will make something else for myself. If there are leftovers, can you please be sure to eat them tomorrow for lunch? I don’t want it to be around the house for too long and tempt me to binge.” That way he felt like he could still eat whatever he wanted, but I didn’t have to participate.
There have been other times when I’ve had to talk to him about keeping certain items out of the house, like peanut butter, or crackers. I went through a period of a few months a couple of years ago when I felt very vulnerable to those foods. He stopped buying them for a while, but then we compromised and he just kept them in his home office—out of sight, out of mind (usually!).
Thankfully, I’m at a point now where he can keep whatever he likes in the house, including Cocoa Puffs, p.b. and crackers—and pizza is back on the menu for me.
DEALING WITH PARENTS
I’ve written in the past about my mother and my relationship and dealings with food and body image. When I was in my late teens, she used to try the best way she knew how to help me with my weight and binge eating—but that way was dieting, and it wasn’t right for me. Eventually, I had to ask her to please not offer advice anymore, even if I asked for it.
What about you? How have you dealt with food issues when it came to friends, people you were dating or with your parents? Please share!