Food Shaming: Self-Imposed

Lunch PortionYou know, I had a fairly clear vision of what I wanted this blog to be when I started it.  I intended to relate my experiences with trying to get pregnant and intersperse that with recipes of my own creation, or that I had found to be particularly delicious and useful.

Since we are NTNP (Not Trying Not Preventing) I don’t have much to convey on the fertility front right now.  And I’ve found that I get the most hits on articles that have to do with myself, my personal growth, my battle with self-image, etc.  So I suppose I should start admitting to what this blog really is: a (hopefully) well-written diary. So in the vein of self-exploration, I want to confess to a couple of recent ‘episodes’ I’ve watched myself succumb to.

This happened a couple of weeks ago.  I was in the office kitchenette preparing my lunch.  I had brought some left over lasagna with me to eat.  It was in a Tupperware in the fridge.  As I took it out to put it on a plate to microwave it, another co-worker came into the kitchen with a hard boiled egg.  She began peeling it under the running water of the kitchen sink.  And as she stood there, making small talk, peeling her healthy egg, I was shamed.

Obviously not by her.  She was minding her own business.  The egg was to go on her healthy salad that she would be eating with soup (I believe.)  And she did not berate me over my food choice while she peeled her egg.  It was imposed on me, by me.  The co-worker is of average height, average weight, etc.  And she was making a good food choice for her.

The lasagna I had chosen was from a Stouffer’s frozen entree that I had prepared the night before for myself and hubby.  He got home at 6:30; I got home at 6 PM, and I just didn’t feel like expending energy to make a home cooked meal after getting back from BodyVive at the gym.  So the frozen lasagna was our choice.  No, we did not even bother with preparing fresh veggies to go with it.  Between the two of us, we polished off about half of it the night before.  I had brought the other half with me to work for lunch the next day.

I had intended to put all of the lasagna on the plate to microwave.  But upon seeing my average sized co-worker peeling her healthy egg, I only put half of the portion I had intended to eat on the plate.  If I could have shoved the plate quickly into the microwave without her seeing, I would have put my entire portion on the plate.  But because I needed to wait for her to move in order to put the plate in the microwave, I only served myself half.

And I was pretty hungry.  That half portion was not going to cut it.  And I knew it.  So when my co-worker managed to get the egg peeled and all the niceties were done, I pulled the Tupperware back out of the fridge and put the rest of the lasagna on my plate.  And I nuked it and ate it all.  But I was only willing to do that if no one saw me.

Now if I’m going to preach about how I have accepted my size and that healthy for me isn’t something that I judge by my weight, how can I let myself be shamed in front of a co-worker during a chance lunch time crossing in the office kitchenette?  How can I call myself a grown woman if I’m going to shrink from being myself in front of others?  How can I write on here about how I want to embrace myself as I am now, if I am willing to change my behavior in front of acquaintances depending on what they are eating or doing?

The answer is that I can’t to all three of those questions.  So I’m trying to make a  promise to myself that I won’t change my behavior or intended course of action in order to appear ‘better’ or ‘healthier’ in the eyes of others.  I don’t eat lasagna all the time.  I make healthy choices on a regular basis.  And I know without asking that my co-worker at one point or another has eaten a frozen entree meal.  So why feel shamed?

Now for some reason, this next experience I am relating happened late last year- before the more recent lasagna experience.  And I reacted completely differently to it.  The way I would expect myself to act if I’m meeting all the criteria I laid out for myself two paragraphs back.

I was having a really crappy day.  The holidays, the most recently failed fertility med fueled cycle, just everything was making me feel awful.  And I hadn’t given myself time to make a good lunch.  So instead, I just grabbed a can of SpaghettiOs.  You know what I’m talking about.  The pasta rings in tomato sauce all cooked in a can and then usually served to children who don’t know any better.  That stuff.

The container had a convenient pull tab so I didn’t even need a can opener.  You know the sound that a can of soda makes when you open it?  It’s a very distinct sound.  And this can makes a similar popping noise when you open it.  There’s no hissing or fizzing sound because the contents are not full of CO2, but it is a similar noise.  Enough of a noise to attract a co-worker’s attention if he were passing by at that exact moment.

When this co-worker saw what I was shoveling out of the can and into a bowl, he asked in disgust, “What is that?”

I didn’t even answer his question. I just told him to go away.  OK, to be fair, this was a co-worker I felt comfortable cussing around, and I actually told him to “fuck off.”  Either he wasn’t truly offended with my tone, his curiosity didn’t overwhelm his sense of self-preservation or he respected my right to eat whatever I wanted, but he fled the scene without asking any questions.  And I carb-loaded to my heart’s content.

Later when I it came up during a calmer conversation at a different time, he told me that he thought I was pouring cat food out into the bowl.  To be fair, the nutritional content might have been the same.  But that was why he reacted the way he did.  And we laughed at the idea of it.  But I’m proud(ish) of the way I handled it.  I ate what I wanted to eat on that particular day and did not hide it or apologize for it.

I’m not saying I would eat half a lasagna or cans of processed pasta daily, but on the days when I decide to eat it, I should not be shaming myself about it.  I’ll eat my collard greens, brussels sprouts and spinach every other day of the week.  No reason to feel abashed on those occasions I take the easier meal.

What really got this post written today?  A short article I read about a woman who was denied a massage because she was “too fat for the massage table.”  The best part of that article though?  The woman had booked the massage because she’d just finished a half-marathon the day before.  Yeah, chew on that society!  Health at every size!  WOOT!

Ragen Chastain, author of the Dances with Fat blog, wrote an amazing post entitled “Not Tiny, Not Working On It, and Not Putting Up With This.”  With much more knowledge, experience and skill, Ragen mentions the article I posted above and expounds on all my feelings about it so much more eloquently.  You should absolutely go read her blog if my post interested you even the tiniest bit.

2 thoughts on “Food Shaming: Self-Imposed

  1. One of the healthiest people I know eats HUGE lunches. Now, granted he is a runner and burns everything off, but he maintains that your biggest meal of the day should be at lunch not dinner. I think it has something to do with your metabolism utilizing more of the food since you are active after lunch, rather than storing it all when you are sleeping after dinner.

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