my friend and weight/fat/food issues (long-ish vent)

i have a friend whom i love very much, but she drives me up the wall when it comes to the topics of weight, fat, and food.

she will express how guilty she feels after eating and talk about how she's fat or needs to diet or things like that. i noticed her doing it frequently, sometimes after eating a regular meal, sometimes as just a conversation, sometimes after a snack. that behavior worried me a lot. i can understand getting the "hoo boy, i wish i hadn't eaten all of that!" feeling after a huge meal, but she she would do it very often and not just after a big meal.

she hasn't stopped eating and maintains a healthy weight (she is at an average and healthy weight btw), but the negative talk and guilt made me worried and i wasn't really sure if i should bring it up to her because i didn't want to embarrass her or hurt her feelings.

i tried being positive with her assuring her that what she was eating was healthy, or when we go out for a big meal, it's ok because we don't do it all the time. she will often say things like that too: you only live once, there's always room for dessert, i can't make this at home so i'm going to order it, etc. she doesn't seem to feel guilty about food beforehand, but afterwards she does.

then it started getting a little...odd. at least that's what i thought. one time i was eating a banana and i mentioned how much i LOVE bananas. she said she did too, but also added: "but they're so bad for you!" i couldn't figure out what she meant. i asked, and apparently it was because of all the calories. it made me uncomfortable that she 1.) would point out how bad for me something that i'm eating is and 2.) that she would say that of a banana. i later learned that "good for you" = very few calories and "bad for you" = lots of calories, regardless of other nutrients.

she has also said things that made me really angry. she will make rude remarks towards other people, and i think it might be to alleviate the guilt she feels after eating. for example, sometimes if we go out to eat or are at a friend's house eating dinner, after i've finished the food on my plate she'll say, "wow, are you gonna lick the plate now too??" she has done this more than once, and each time i am so stunned and hurt that i don't know what to say to her.

one time after eating she turned to a friend of ours who was 7 months pregnant at the time and, in front of everyone at the table, asked, "so how much weight have you gained?" she did this knowing full well that the friend had been feeling really down about her weight lately.

she talks about how she doesn't want to wear exercise pants when she goes for walks because she feels self-conscious. i told her that she shouldn't worry, no one will judge her because no one is paying attention. after awhile, i got the feeling that the reason that she felt that way was because she judged other people by their weight. she made a rude remark about a woman who was wearing riding breeches at the farm last week, and i couldn't figure out why. the woman was a bit bigger than my friend, but it was easy to tell that she was also more muscular and more fit.

at this point, i would like to ask: are the comments she makes and the sentiments she expresses after eating not normal or unhealthy? i thought so for a long time, but then i realized that most of my friends do it. in fact, i'm the only one that doesn't, so maybe it IS normal? or at least common? when i was younger, my mom called me fat (among other things) very often. this wasn't a "honey, you should eat fewer cakes" kind of thing. this was screaming at me about how i was so fat, etc, etc,. she would say it out of anger, use the word "fat" as ammo. i put all that behind me a long time ago and maintain what i think is a fairly healthy relationship with my body and food.

but even so, even if i did feel kind of yuck after eating, actually saying something about it out loud makes me feel even worse. almost like it would be making what my mom said true and real. it's like they would "know" about the humiliation i felt, or that they could hear my mom calling me fat, and quite frankly i don't need to bring that ish up. maybe my friends who do make comments about how they feel guilty after eating just do it because it's something to talk about? something that they think everyone can relate to? i dunno. maybe there is no reason.

about the rude comments: that is something that really pisses me off, and i'm sorry to admit, all my concern over her relationship with food went right out the window the first time she asked me if i was going to "lick my plate." i'm not sure why shy she thinks it's ok to say these things, especially in front of other people. maybe it was what they did in her family. maybe she thinks it's ok because i really do let a lot of things just roll of my back. i have a pretty thick skin, and much of the time i can shrug it off and tell myself that it's HER deal, it's NOT ME or any defect that i have...but other times i do internalize it and i feel embarrassed. and i don't really wanna tell her about it and dredge up all those old insecurities because...i dunno, i just don't want her to know about them. maybe i'm not as over it as i think i am.


i don't know. i really just had to let all that out of my system. i find that i go back and forth between being worried about her mental health and her relationship with food, and being really angry at her because she basically made someone (sometimes me) feel bad to make herself feel better. and i never know quite what to do about it. but thanks, curlies for letting me type it out.

THANK YOU, i really needed to vent about that.
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Do you want responses or is this just to vent?
I can relate to this very well. I don't know what specific things you can do to help the situation, and I hope the other curlies weigh in. I am just reminded of a friend of mine who drove me nuts constantly talking about food, weight, etc., and criticizing every mouthful I took. It became increasingly unpleasant to go out to eat with her and boring as well. The world is not about you (g/y) and your weight problem.

Our friendship ended for other reasons, but I remember how irritating it was to be with her. I just wish everyone would mind their own business when it comes to food, eating, weight, etc. What your friend needs to learn basically - unless someone asks for her opinion or advice, STFU!
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I'd say she has conficting eating/weight/projection issues.

It's boring to be around people who talk about themselves too much. How close are you? Do you truly feel able to address this issue with her? My guess is she won't take it well.
Well, if we're going for comments...

It sounds like the other friends you mention are doing the thing that some women do where they complain about how much they ate, either to show friendly vulnerability or because they feel ashamed of enjoying food.

As for the friend who this is mainly about, it sounds like she has very serious issues with food and weight. She constantly judges herself, imagines that others constantly judge her, and defends herself by lashing out at others.
Do you want responses or is this just to vent?
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
haha, i think originally i just needed to vent, but later was hoping for some responses, so i'm really glad you all offered some insight! eilonwy, i think you pretty much hit the nail on the head at the end of your post just above this one. that is exactly what i've been thinking is going on. right now, the best way for me to deal with it is to let her do her thing and try not to let it get to me.

i like her very much, but i find this idiosyncrasy pretty difficult to deal with. i still don't feel comfortable talking to her about this. i feel like i would need to be very careful about what i say, especially because this is probably a vulnerability/insecurity issue. even if i was careful, you're right, nd, i don't think she'd take it well. i probably wouldn't, if it were me. i wonder if she expects me to join in on the negative self talk? i wonder if she wonders why i don't do it?

cp, that's how i often feel. i realized that i sometimes worry about eating in front of her for fear of criticism, which is really annoying because i like to enjoy my food!

i hope our friendship doesn't end over this. i'm moving at the end of the summer, so i won't see her much after that and i'm trying to spend as much time with her and my other close friends as possible. she really is a great woman, and this behavior started very gradually after i had met her. it surprised me a lot in fact. i'm going to try my best to not let it get to me, but oooh man it really grates my nerves!
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Eilonwy is pretty much right on the money.


Rebecca, I would say that your friend is deeply insecure. Clearly she has low self-esteem and poor body image. She struggles with food and weight. This is something I can definitely relate to. But I draw the line at being mean to other people. That is unacceptable.

I see no reason why you can't talk to her about it. You can get the point across without hurting her feelings or getting her all defensive.

Personally, I think that when she sees you eating and enjoying food without guilt...it bothers her. It bothers her because she is afraid to do the same. She is probably afraid that you will judge her. People can be funny.

Anyway, I'm prone to saying bad things about myself because it has been drilled into me my whole life. I was always naturally very thin, but with nice curves. A few years ago I gained a lot of weight because of depression and an unhealthy lifestyle. I am now 156 lbs. at only 5'1". I weighed even more a few weeks ago.

Some people have no problem with telling me that I'm fat and my body is something to be ashamed of. My mother is constantly saying I need to lose weight so I can be the cute, skinny daughter she once had. Sometimes people comment on my appetite because I love food. I really enjoy it. But I do feel guilty at times because people will observe me eating and say things that aren't very nice.

Unlike your friend, I would never make comments about what other people eat or how much they eat. This is a sensitive subject for a lot of people, especially women. It seems that she is projecting her insecurities onto others, including you.

Asking a person how much they weigh while knowing that they also have issues just strikes me as cruel...that is what she said to your friend who was having a baby. It was catty and mean-spirited. I definitely would have pulled her aside to discuss that.

What she does, essentially, is police other women's bodies and what they eat because she has issues with herself. I will be honest. At this point, I'm bigger than I would like to be. I'm not comfortable with my body. I'm guilty of negative self-talk. My body image is terrible. But I also know that being a size 10 and enjoying food doesn't make me a bad person. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, I could stand to lose a few pounds. I want to wear itty-bitty shorts and halter tops again. But I don't believe that fat=ugly.

It sounds like maybe your friend equates being fat with being ugly, shameful, and out of control.


I think this is the first post I have seen which was as non-judgmental as you made it!

I don't remember how old you are from other posts - are you early 20s or younger? Because unfortunately the insecurity leading to that kind of behavior is pretty common at that age, and you should be commended for NOT being that way.

I'm sure she doesn't even notice that you don't insult people. If someone is as self-critical and insecure as she sounds, they assume everyone else is, too. Perhaps you can start making a point of making positive comments about people when she's negative, and see if you can get her to notice you being a good example?

This sort of situation is really hard. I haven't had a friendship with someone so insecure last, but it is easier at a distance. I just want to try to be nice to people and enjoy the beauty out there, try to find inspiration for things I want to change, style inspiration, etc. That's very hard to find around those who are insecure - because they are too busy insulting themselves to be able to accept themselves and allow themselves positive, healthy change.
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I know this is easier said than done when socializing, but if it were me, I'd try to only do non-food related activities with her for a little while. I certainly would mention that her comments about your eating are hurtful and offensive. It's possible that she doesn't even realize how often she brings the topic up. Her obsession with food & weight are harming your friendship, and she needs to be made aware of your feelings.
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I agree with everyone else here. Also, if I had a friend who asked me if I was going to lick my plate, I'd then do it, say mmmmm, and laugh. This would be my way of laughing at her stupid remark and letting her know she wasn't getting to me.
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i like her very much, but i find this idiosyncrasy pretty difficult to deal with. i still don't feel comfortable talking to her about this. i feel like i would need to be very careful about what i say, especially because this is probably a vulnerability/insecurity issue.
Originally Posted by Rebecca deWinter
Well, just because she insults you due to her insecurities, that doesn't mean that you have to put up with the insults.
I would try first to ignore the comments completely, just say 'ok' and change the subject. Or just say nothing if she keeps going on. If that doesn't work, I would tell her she needs to stop with that and it's annoying and or unnecessary.
This is not an unusual thing. There are women who get REALLY caught up in the self-hate cycle of weight and food.

I have had to let go of several (separate) friends in my life because they would not.stop.f&cking.talking about food and weight and how awfully disgusting they found themselves at 110 pounds. Each time, I told them that if they think they are disgusting at such a small size, they must think I'm absolutely revolting, since I was larger than them, and that it hurt my feelings to hear them constantly saying such hateful things. Each time...they couldn't stop. So, I let the friendships go.

Life is TOO short to hang around with asholes.
This is not an unusual thing. There are women who get REALLY caught up in the self-hate cycle of weight and food.

I have had to let go of several (separate) friends in my life because they would not.stop.f&cking.talking about food and weight and how awfully disgusting they found themselves at 110 pounds. Each time, I told them that if they think they are disgusting at such a small size, they must think I'm absolutely revolting, since I was larger than them, and that it hurt my feelings to hear them constantly saying such hateful things. Each time...they couldn't stop. So, I let the friendships go.

Life is TOO short to hang around with asholes.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
Agreed - if you express how you feel and she continues to bring it up, then she's just not respecting your feelings and that alone is reason to distance yourself.

My mom is nice enough to tell me how horrible I look when I've gained 10 lbs.

How the fat I have under the back of my armpits is 'gross' and if she had that she wouldn't wear tank tops like I do. But, you know, if it doesn't bother me....

She tells me I better not gain weight and better make sure I keep myself looking nice or my boyfriend will leave me.

She lectures me on what I eat, and tells me how I'm supposed to eat, what's healthy to eat, etc.

For the record, I eat pretty well. I don't eat fast food, or processed foods. I don't eat out often. I never drink soda. I weigh 125 lbs.

My mother weighs 250. Sheesh.
This is not an unusual thing. There are women who get REALLY caught up in the self-hate cycle of weight and food.

I have had to let go of several (separate) friends in my life because they would not.stop.f&cking.talking about food and weight and how awfully disgusting they found themselves at 110 pounds. Each time, I told them that if they think they are disgusting at such a small size, they must think I'm absolutely revolting, since I was larger than them, and that it hurt my feelings to hear them constantly saying such hateful things. Each time...they couldn't stop. So, I let the friendships go.

Life is TOO short to hang around with asholes.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
Amen.
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I'm with RCW.

You don't have to discuss this with her, given her issues. But you don't have to be silent about the insults and hurtful comments towards you either. Next time just say "That was hurtful, why would you say something like that" She may not be able to stop, in which case you may have to let the friendship go, sadly. Because it sounds like she is really deep in the weight/food mind ****. But either way you should speak up, don't make it about her and trying to analyze her, necessarily, but do set boundaries about how she treats YOU.
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RedCatWaves...I completely agree with you. You had to let go of those friendships because they weren't respecting your wishes and hurting your feelings.

I would like to point out, though, that when thin women express unhappiness with their own bodies it doesn't necessarily mean that they think the same way about *your* body. When I was very thin, I hated my body. I had massive insecurities about my small breasts and my big behind.

My cousin, who has always been a big girl, believes that because I don't like my body then I must view hers in a negative way. This isn't true. While I would not want to be her size (if I can be honest), I do see her as beautiful. I don't judge her for being a size 16-18 because I believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

When thin women call themselves fat, they're often judging themselves harshly. Not you...although it feels that way. That is what they see in the mirror. I know it sounds insane but it's true. Sure, there are some people who do it just to be annoying but there are many women who are intensely unhappy with their bodies, regardless of size. When you hear a 110-lb. woman complaining about how "fat" she is, it is often because that's how she views herself...it has nothing to do with you.

That's just my perspective, though. You're right...life is too short to spend time with people who make you feel bad about yourself. I had to stop associating with people who were bringing me down so I understand where you're coming from.
I agree with RCW. She is projecting her own issues onto others which is completely rude and unfair. Misery loves company, maybe?

I would find reasons to not hang out with her anymore.
I'm with RCW.

You don't have to discuss this with her, given her issues. But you don't have to be silent about the insults and hurtful comments towards you either. Next time just say "That was hurtful, why would you say something like that" She may not be able to stop, in which case you may have to let the friendship go, sadly. Because it sounds like she is really deep in the weight/food mind ****. But either way you should speak up, don't make it about her and trying to analyze her, necessarily, but do set boundaries about how she treats YOU.
Originally Posted by geeky
Bravo, geeky! That is so true!

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