Thursday, May 1, 2014

How I Can Eat Differently Than My Family, Without Caving Into Food Pushing (Per Monique's Request)

This post is about how I have managed to figure out a way to eat much differently than my family, without caving into food pushing.

As many of you know, we do not have cleaning eating in my home--far from it! In fact, we always treats of various types in my home. Sometimes, the pantry seems like a gas station aisle full of all of the most impulsive junk food--donuts, crackers, chips, candy, etc... And I used to eat like this! Seriously, back about 10 years ago, it was a habit to eat half a family-sized bag of candy by myself on any stressful day. 

At some point, I decided that I am strong enough to win only one eating battle--my own. And, over the years, some of you have suggested to me to straighten my family out--and force them to eat better--that what is good for me is good for them too! This is true. But as insistent as I am about eating healthy, my family is equally insistent about eating the way they want to eat.

So how did I start deviating from the family to eat much differently than them? 

It first came from my yoga friend P. I honestly asked her, "How do you to stay slim when your husband is so chunky?" She honestly answered,

"Oh, we don't eat the same foods at all! 
We make a girl dinner that is healthy 
and a guy dinner that is not healthy 
at our home each night."

Honestly, I had never considered that before! I had often been so irritated that our family meals were so unhealthy, but rather than eating something different, I just felt low-grade anger about it. And I ate the very foods that made me angry! Way for me to ingest my anger!!! But P made me think there was a better way!

I started making grocery lists regarding what I would separately eat from the family--enough healthy food for a full 7 days. And I told my family that they could not eat any of it. If they wanted the same types of foods, they needed to let me know so that I could buy more for them.

I started eating an entirely different way than my family--totally different meals! At first, they gave me a lot of back-talk about this! They ridiculed my healthy choices! They pushed indulgent food at me several times per day. And this made me very irritated because it's hard enough to make the decision to eat healthy, but then the saboteurs come to brighten your day!!! And they almost made it a sport to try to sabotage my healthy eating!

At this point, I had a meaningful talk with myself:
What did I want for myself?
How deeply did I want it?
Would I fight for myself?
What extent of fight was I worth?

I came to the conclusion that I was very sickened over my unhealthy eating habits, and I really wanted to change in a huge way.

I decided that my healthy eating was going to happen--no matter what!!!

Plus, I realized that it didn't feel like my authentic self to eat unhealthy anymore. Quite simply, it was "very Marion" to practice self-love. And a huge part of self-love is caring for my body. And I felt at peace about my decision because I knew, overall, I'd be a lot less angry and disappointed on a daily basis when following through on this choice of healthy eating.    

I stuck to my guns and kept telling them "No" many times per day...many days, into a few months. After a few months, strangely my family got used to my new way of eating! And they quit bugging me about it! They still think it is strange, but they accepted it!

This year, we learned of a person who had very serious health issues due to unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. My teen daughter told me, "Mom, I'm so glad you eat the way you do." Because she knows that I'm planning, health-wise, to be around for her for many decades to come!


Re Monique's question about eating among relatives outside of the home: I have a slightly different angle. How does a person go to a holiday meal and not offend the hostess when eating tiny smidgens of indulgent food?

I gradually decided that I will no longer do self-sacrifice for the sake of pleasing others. I've decided to quit being a people-pleaser. Now, in reality, I still do quite a bit of people pleasing. However, I have made it to be *my decision* for whether or not to do something for somebody. I no longer feel forced into self-sacrifice. Instead, my actions reflect deliberately chosen caring actions that make me feel *happy* to do them. The underlying rationale makes a huge difference!

When a hostess/relative tries to push food on me, implying that is love, I do not self-sacrifice. If this person truly loves me, then she will understand it is important for me to practice self-care and to make my own decisions for myself. Further, love can be generously given in ways other than high calorie food, such as great conversation, playing fun games, and sharing lovely music. I guess, you have to be very confident about who you are, that you can love people without self-sacrifice, and then make that somehow happen in tough situations. It takes time, effort and patience, but it can be accomplished.

What do *you* think? Did this help anyone? As always, I like to hear about your opinions and own solutions and experiences.

Have a Super Day!

:-) Marion


  1. Eleven years ago, when I started Weight Watchers, I also prepared different meals for me and my husband. He quietly watched me lose weight and then keep it off for a year. I was lucky that he did not do too much of the food pushing while he ate his awful diet which included many fast food lunches and even more Little Debbie cakes.

    Then, one day he told me he wanted to eat like I was eating and he lost 85 pounds. Things have really changed around our house as both my daughter and husband are now eating gluten free. Mostly, I do too as it's just easier. I think you're doing great as you go it alone. Maybe one day the others in your house will join you. :)

    1. Hi Caron, Oh, they have all gotten somewhat more healthy! However, they will not be pushed. So, instead, I am a role model and I do explain why I don't eat certain foods and limit others. So the entire family has made some improvement. However, I do not wait for them for my own self to improve. :-)

  2. I am glad your family have accepted the way you eat. Mine struggle to accept my way. Although they eat differently to me, they still bug me to eat what they eat.

    1. Hi Marleen, Oh, mine does too. However, it's much less intense than in the beginning. :-)

  3. Fortunately, my social sphere is small, and everyone knows now that I don't eat junk food, so no one pushes anymore. I think people are learning that it's uncool to push junk food as love...or at least around here or around me they have learned. I suspect it might be different in the south or the midwest; glad I live in 'healthier' sunny so. California, although my office not so much so. But they know I no longer relates back to that 'parallel food universe' thing.

    1. Hi Gwen, Well, I currently live in a neighborhood where women are slimmer, and food isn't pushed at neighborhood get-togethers. But mostly, people push food as a way of being gracious in Wisconsin. And many people don't consider extra helpings of dinner to be unhealthy either. :-)

  4. The subject of food remains contentious whatever country or city, household or family you are with etc.

    It becomes easier if you have a devastating or debilitating illness ...some then do realise that what we put into our bodies can indeed have a lasting and not good outcome.

    There will always be those who will at least listen to the harm certain foods can do to our body, alas there are those whose eyes and ears remain shut. We do what we can more.

    Take Care - look after yourself, and our families as best we can and as best that they will allow.

    All the best Jan

    1. Hi Jan, I've never convinced anyone of anything with pushing. The teens are seeing my food habits and learning some, but they act pretty invincible at that age. :-)

  5. I can remember that my mom use to make herself separate meals from us when we were young. When she was doing Weight Watchers she would make herself Liver at least twice a week and us kids wouldn't eat it because for one, she made ist sound like she had no choice and that she HAD to eat it for the program. I also remember her getting saran wrapped, single serving, spaghetti squash and telling us that we wouldn't like it when we asked if we could try it.
    I am thankful that my mom ate so healthy when we were young because I now love a variety of fruits and vegetables, but it makes me kind of resentful that she didn't offer the same choices for the rest of our family, and instead served us the things that she "couldn't" eat.
    With my family today I offer them everything and they have to take at least 3 bites and then if they don't like it I will get them something else. I'm hoping this changes a little when my kids get old enough to reason with, but the known rule throughout my house is that there is NO junk food allowed. if they want to eat like crap outside of the house that's fine, but it stops at the door.
    Now if we could just get the out of the house food under control;)

    1. Hi Carrie, When kids are little, it's a bit easier to control. By the time I had 2 older kids and 2 younger kids, people were annoying each other all of the time. Someone was peppering the birthday cake, while I helped another kid with homework. I can't pinpoint when I totally lost control. It may have been the year when our 4 kids went to 4 separate schools in different locations of the city. But it gets harder when they are teenagers for sure! :-)

  6. I make meals that I can eat and add a few dishes for the rest of the family. I made steak and salad for dinner last night. I added garlic bread and mac n cheese to it for the rest of the family. I tried to get everybody to eat healthy and ended up being the food police. It was to much of a headache.

    1. Hi S, Sometimes that works for us too. However, I personally have more trouble having all of those starches around me without wanting to eat them. I agree that being the food police for kids in the home is pretty much a futile headache. :-)

  7. I think it is very important to eat the foods that will make you feel best. I love how you explain that you were quite literally ingesting your anger when you were eating foods you didn't want to eat. I think this is probably true for many people who feel they just have no other choice as their family refuses to eat different foods.

    My husband completely changed the way he eats, but we still don't eat exactly the same foods. That is, I add in some bread and some pasta for the "boys," but luckily the "base" of our meals is usually the same. But he does bring home candy and cookies, etc., which I always stay away from.

    Regarding eating at someone else's home, I almost always offer to bring a dish. And I then bring something that I can eat.

    1. Hi Andrea, I did not know there was all of that difference for how your guys eat! That is surprising!

      Yes, it kind of surprises me how much people pleasing I did by eating food I did not even want. I do feel less angry about eating what I want to eat now. It's ridiculous that it took me so long to come to the conclusion that I should pick my own foods! However, given the hard time I got for being assertive, I realize why I just gave in. It was much easier! :-)

  8. I try to make changes that don't involve me cooking two completely different dishes. Like when I make spaghetti bolognaise I often cooked zoodles (zucchini strips) for myself and spaghetti for the others, but with the same home-made sauce. Or fajitas with lettuce wraps for me instead of the tortillas.

    1. Hi Natalie, I did try doing that, but I really hate cooking food that is unhealthy. So I do buy whatever foods people want, but if they want the unhealthy food, they have to cook it themselves. The teens are old enough to cook for themselves, and they do cook what they feel like eating. And they've learned to cook in the process. :-)

  9. Actually this has helped me and given me a lot to think over.. I'm still in the process of recovering from surgery but I intend to make this yer about getting healthier. And my family will be the problem child in that area.

    1. Hi Angel Blue, Thank you for commenting on my blog! I'm glad this helped you think over your own situation. Keeping weight off is a lifestyle change in which people like us with mostly unhelpful families need to find ourselves as individuals with our own opinions and feelings! We were raised to be people-pleasers and self-sacrificers, and now we find that we have to quit doing those things to help our own selves. I've been writing a lot about that lately, so check out my April posts. And I hope you do well in your steps of this process. It takes a while of being insistent, so be tough! :-)

  10. At home luckily for me T eats what I eat on most days sometimes he likes to eat dessert after dinner and our deal is he buys single portion stuff so it is not really lying around the house..he buys stuff that he can finish :)
    My issue has always been going back home..initially I would give in very easily then I started being more stern, I would get angry and fight but would give in after a bit of an argument finally now I think I have learned to handle anybody who forces me calmly and the reason for this is mainly because I am more confident about my choices instead of being embarrassed.Also people around me are getting used to how I eat so this time when I went back I would make my own food and my sister has started eating better so I had company :) which always fun

  11. What a great blog discussion topic. I have always been a bit of loner in the family when it comes to eating habits, which basically is a nice way of saying over the last 20+ years I have tried every diet under the sun while my family...notsomuch. You are definitely right about not being able to "force" everyone to eat like you do. If you *ask* my pre-teen and teenage daughters they will say things like "we NEVER get ...pasta, bread, potatoes, rice" but that isn't true. I do allow them carbs/junk/etc. My youngest (the almost 12 yo) would consistently eat junk day in and day out if I let her. So there is still some steering of the ship. My oldest is much more athletic and went through a 'chunky' phase from about 2-5th grade...really more of a quick growth spurt, bigger and taller than most girls her age...but she has changed some of her eating habits and now has an awesome figure that she works hard for. But I digress, this is all to say that there is no right or wrong way to do this. I'm always slightly jealous of people who don't have spouses and kids to cook for. But I love my family too much to spend much time wishing all I had to worry about was myself. :-) Thanks for a great post Marion!

  12. "I gradually decided that I will no longer do self-sacrifice for the sake of pleasing others." "you have to be very confident about who you are, that you can love people without self-sacrifice, and then make that somehow happen in tough situations. It takes time, effort and patience, but it can be accomplished."

    Those are probably my two favorite thoughts from this post, although the whole post is helpful (as always!). It was really frustrating last year that the holidays became something I was dreading instead of something I enjoyed. I'm looking forward to getting it right this year :)

  13. “❝
    Before I am your daughter,
    your sister,
    your aunt, niece, or cousin,
    I am my own person,
    and I will not set fire to myself
    to keep you warm.”
    ― Unknown

    Happened to see this, this week, and thought of it as soon as I read your post.

  14. I'm such a picky eater ... very often I'm not eating the same foods as my family, or not eating at an outing regardless of anyone trying to encourage me to try something. It has nothing to do with health, just my own eating issues. But it should help me in these situations, I just still have to commit to wanting to eat healthy myself. I still TRY to out-cardio my calories and indulge, but I KNOW I need to improve the eating!

  15. Wow I need your will.power. the problem is that 3 pushes and I slip and I feel.baaad.

    But I am workimg on it.
    Also...I want ti stop.being a people.pleaser...thanks for the great tips.


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