January 22, 2011

Stuff Fat People Like

Eating Alone

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it fall, did it really fall?

If something happens and you don't read about it on Facebook, did it really happen? (LOL)

If you eat food but no one sees you eat it, did you really eat it?

When I was a little kid we would eat at a restaurant called Grandy's. I still see these around from time to time. They used to be really good. The main fare, fried chicken, was always a treat.There was an older grandma-type lady (Grandy was her name) who would walk around passing out hot rolls. The brioche-esque rolls were amazing. They were served with plenty of little Country Crock butter cups and special Grandy's honey packets. In a word: awesome.

Every time I went to Grandy's I would order the nuggets, fried okra and baked beans. Of course I would have a few rolls and sweet tea. Then for dessert I would have bathroom honey. "Bathroom honey?" you ask. Yes. That's right. Bathroom honey. After the meal I would discreetly excuse myself to the restroom. On my way, I would make a detour past the honey table. As soon as a got into the bathroom stall the honey began to flow. I opened packet after packet of that golden honey and sucked it right down, in the privacy of my own gritty, if slightly smelly, retreat.


I have always liked to eat alone. Because I guess, just like when I was 7 and in the Grandy's bathroom getting high on honey, I feel like if no ones sees me then it really doesn't count. That's not rational, I know. But what part of being fat is rational?

Have you ever eaten in public at something like a buffet and as you were fixing your plate you became so self conscious that you went entirely out of your way to put a ridiculously small portion of everything on your plate? I have. Why? What is the point of this? Do we really believe that people A) are paying that much attention to what we are eating and B) really buy the fact that this is the typical way we eat when we are 50...100...200 pounds overweight? I think this a behavioral red flag. Anywhere that we are bending the truth should be a red flag.

The red flag in this case signals that if we are eating like that in public then we must be eating a dramatically different way in private. But do we allow ourselves to believe that the plate we fixed in public is a true reflection of our relationship with food? Because it's not. The true reflection of our relationship with food is the plate we fix in private. It's the one that happens at 1 o'clock in the morning or the one that happens when the kids go down for a nap. It's the one that happens as we are cleaning off the dinner table or the one that happens when we are on our way home from work.


Yesterday I just "happened" upon an interesting blog post from Her.meneutics, Christianity Today's blog for women. The article, Anorexia and the Body of Christ, by Rachel Stone, sheds light on a lesser-known family based treatment for eating disorders. While anorexia, the deadliest of all psychological disorders, is the illness highlighted in the account of a young girl in the article, I think there is something all-inclusive about Stone's insight. Read this excerpt from the post:
Maybe we all need to eat together more. Brown mentions that, pre-illness, Kitty spent three hours each evening at gymnastics practice, eating alone most nights. Somehow I wasn’t surprised, having recently read data indicating that children from families eating together have a lower incidence of eating disorders than children from families who don’t. If anorexics’ best hope is having a loved one eat with them, might eating together in general have more curative and preventative powers than we currently understand? Brown doesn’t go there, but I receive her family's story as an invitation to consider more seriously the value of eating communally.

What if eating were less about our relationship with food and more about our relationships with people? What if it was about serving and listening and being more aware? What if we made it a priority to sit down daily as a family or daily with co-workers to break bread and engage in the lives of those around us?

I encourage you to really think about this. How much time do you spend eating alone? Do you think this plays into the fact that you are overweight or obese? What are some ways that families and single people alike can engage in communal eating more often? I feel like this is a big deal. What do you think?



Syndal said...

great post and so insightful. you are spot on that eating together and having a positive relationship with food, ourselves, and others can be so intertwined and so important.

Pretty Pauline said...

I'm not sure which is worse: Eating in secret so as to save face, or eating it all out in front of the world because you just don't care anymore. I've done both, but it's been a long time since I've done the former. The latter is just further evidence (if I needed any~pshaw!) of just how far I've let myself go. :(

The Loser! said...

Ahhhh, this is the perfect day for this post. Today was my "cheat" day, and I went to a brunch by myslef where you could order as much as you want. I'm a complete foodie, and I was interested in trying several items off the menu, so I ordered a few different things (certainly not intending to eat all of them) but felt like the entire place was staring at the fat chick (in yoga clothes, none the less) eating half the menu... I don't think I'd feel self concious if I was a skinny girl.

Donna said...

That's a great post..and so true. I don't think I quite realized I was 'sneaking food'. It does count..every bite. Thanks for sharing this. You look great!

Donna @ Comin' Home

Virginia said...

Ooh Keelie this is an amazing post I too have done the 'secret eating' bit at times and thought the same - only I know so it doesn't matter and weight creeps on gradually and over time. Having another half who has never questioned my size has meant that my secret eating became less prominent because I could eat in front of him without question. I have so many times put tiny portions on a plate at times when I'm anxious in front of other people, only to then devour food elsewhere because I was still 'hungry'. I genuinely think that although anorexia is an awful eating disorder affecting so many and their parents that people don't seem to see people who do the opposite as a problem. Surely when we eat and eat and eat sometimes in secret this is our eating disorder that needs to be dealt with. So many of us go through life on and off diets trying to fight those inner 'demons' perhaps if it was acknowledged that over eating is also an eating disorder then we might all get the opportunity to move forward. Your blog makes me feel like I'm not alone in this battle and also makes me think - yes I love 'family' meals but with a growing 10 year old on our hands whose always hungry sometimes we don't manage family meal times together as often as I would like. So I'm going to make it a priority because I truly believe that family meals not only fulfil out hunger but also feed our heart and our soul. Thank you for making me stop and think.


Virginia (a.k.a. Little Miss War and Peace because sometimes I really can go on a bit - sorry but such an amazing post deserved a full blown reply!)

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is my main issue. I maintain a "healthy" image in public, but don't eat together as a family. A majority of my eating is binge eating and done in secret. This post couldn't have hit the nail any closer to the head.

Thank you for your blog and for letting God use you for His glory.
His hand is on you.

Sherry said...

Wow! I'm having a little reflective moment over here, Keelie. Thanks for the provocation!

Laura said...

Hey, I just wanted to let you know how encouraging your blog has been to me. I just started a blog and have been doing First Place 4 Health bible studies. I just started looking into the exchange system they use but it still feels a little overwhelming. I am sure it will get easier the more I work on it. Blessings on your journey!

Kate said...

As someone who eats alone because she lives alone, I often have to take a look at what is really going on with my plate. Mindful eating is something that works for me.

I love it when I get to have dinner with Cowgirl's family. I just miss that dynamic so much sometimes. It's a delight to sit down with her family for a meal.

LauraLynne said...

Secret eating will always be one of my worst enemies. I still hide food/wrappers/eating from the people I love. I'm not sure how to break that.

Brandy said...

As a kid I was bad at "sneaking" to the kitchen and taking chips/cookies/anything to my room and eating it. The only problem was my parents could see me from the living room doing this and I had no idea. One day dad laughed about it with family. I didn't realize and it didn't stop me. I don't sneak anymore but I still think the hide and eat thing is there. I never eat enough during the day and then when I get home from work end up eating whatever I can get my hands on, usually its not good. I have to be more mindful of what I eat as well.

Kayla Sue said...

Oh man, most of my day is spent with just me and my 11 month old... so I'm almost always eating alone!! I loved this post, it was an eye opener. I am a new reader and I just started my weight loss journey... yours inspires me and gives me hope that I can do this! You look wonderful, and I LOVE your hair :) Thanks for inspiring me today!

Can do mom said...

Thought provoking post, Keelie.

A long time ago I struggled with an eating disorder. I ended up in a treatment program at the U of M and part of our therapy was to eat dinner together. I didn't struggle with that so much but for some of the women it was really hard.

I thankful to be 22 years beyond that behavior. At the time I never thought I'd be able to have a healthy relationship with food (or people, for that matter) again.

God is good!

Amanda said...

I just discovered your blog & wish I had more time to keep reading right now! I'm a terrible secret eater... The less time alone, the more weight I lose! Funny that.