Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Enabling (part 1)

I did something terrible today and I feel absolutely horrible, and I mean really, really horrible. The thing is, I don't know what I should do about it or if anything needs to be done.

My in-laws are arriving from London tomorrow. Each year when they arrive, I make them a welcome basket full of goodies to munch on throughout the day. They stay at a hotel when they come here (lucky, aren't I? Though they are lovely, but still, you know how it can get with visitors in the house for an extended period of time!). Anyway. Since they stay at a hotel, it's nice to have something to snack on instead of having to go to a restaurant or raid the minibar.

Today when I went to the grocery store I almost had an anxiety attack. This basket of goodies that I make them is usually filled with all sorts of chips, chocolates, and biscuits. All their favorites that they don't normally eat when they're home.

Am I hypocrite for buying this stuff and giving it to them?

These are things that I don't buy anymore. I don't even remember the last time I sat down and had a bag of crisps on my own. These are things that I tell other people not to eat, not to buy ... don't tempt yourself by having junk in the house. Since it's the advice I give, it's also something I try my very best to live by (and I'm happy to say I'm successful 99% of the time).

I feel like I'm doing something wrong by buying these things for them. They're not binge eaters. It's not like they're going to sit down and eat everything in one or two days. They'll eat it over the next two weeks, and in between they'll go swimming, they'll go for walks ... They'll have salad and fruit etc. during breakfast and dinner ... this is just a treat.

To me, when I write all that stuff it just sounds like I'm making excuses, like I'm trying to feel less guilty for giving my in-laws unhealthy food.

I don't know.

When I got to the checkout counter I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. To me all I kept thinking was - The guy at the checkout till must be thinking, 'Seriously? Who eats this much junk?' Yes, I know it's not for me, but still, I really did feel ashamed.

I don't know if there's an easy answer to this, and for those of you who are reading this post I do hope you'll share your opinion. It's like when people come over for dinner, do I make dessert? I make GOOD desserts - brownies that melt in your mouth, cheesecake that brings silence to the room as each person enjoys each bite -- but I don't feel like I can/should make those anymore. Is this goody basket the same? As someone who is trying to lose weight, is it right for me to buy/prepare unhealthy foods for others?

I just can't wrap my head around it. Maybe I'm over-thinking it. I guess since it's been such a long time since I bought any of that stuff that I'm having difficulty processing it. I know that I have a difficult time resisting chips and chocolate, so I've just stopped buying them.

In the end, I know that I am responsible for my actions - what I eat and how much I eat is my decision. However, to what extent am I responsible for what I provide for others? Am I being an enabler? Or am I just making a big deal out of nothing?


  1. I think you should take a deep breath! You are making yourself so stressed!
    A lot of people have problems with food, it's true. But many people don't! Those people may enjoy their treats (as you said, slowly, in moderation) and may look forward to them as part of their vacation experience. There is nothing wrong with that at all!
    Maybe you might feel better is you did a combination of their favorite treats and some healthier options. Regarding dessert with dinner - maybe try healthier versions of what you already make, or a fruit based dessert.
    I think you are putting a LOT of pressure and stress on yourself. Try to breath and enjoy the visit!

  2. I was at a wedding once where the bride was a strict vegan. She insisted all the meals, for all 150 non-vegan guests, had to be vegan as well. It was just wrong. Everyone was annoyed that they were being forced into her dietary mindset. The caterers kept apologizing to angry people who sent their food back, but what could they short of "don't blame us - blame the bride!"

    I think you're putting way too much emphasis on what this little treat basket means. You're very focused on nutrition and avoiding bad foods now, but your in-laws haven't given you any indication that they are. Chances are they wouldn't really appreciate the health-food basket either. This is a getaway for them, and since they're not bingers, they can deal well with this "temptation" in their room, and take from it when they want to indulge. Most people love that! They can buy their meals of choice when they do go out for a meal. Having treats on hand for guests is a long standing tradition and a very thoughtful gesture. Leaving them health food or info about how to eat healthier - eh, not so much. It might even be annoying - along the lines of that vegan bride (who, for the record, was the skinniest, frailest looking person I've ever seen in real life.)

    Feel better about it!! You did a NICE thing!!!

  3. If it's foods you know they enjoy but don't treat themselves to at home, I don't see any problem at all. You are being considerate, welcoming and making their vacation fun. If you had inlaws who were unable to eat certain foods due to allergies, medical conditions or because they were on a specific diet, that'd be a different story (I'd be quite dismayed if someone welcomed me with a basket of chips, candy and soda because it would mean they're either trying to sabotage my well-publicized eating habits or they are just clueless and have no idea what my lifestyle is like). You didn't bring the foods into your home where they'd tempt you, and you aren't forcing them to eat anything they don't want to. The basket is there as an option so they don't have to go out and buy snacks themselves. So you did the right thing! :)

  4. Since you've done this previously and they ate the treats, I'm pretty sure they see it as an act of kindness and not as a way to destroy their nutrition. If, in fact, they choose not to eat such things, they can always offer it to people, maybe workers in the hotel as a treat or they can take it home and offer it to neighbors. I think it's fine and you should not worry. :)

  5. Nope. You're not an enabler. You're nice to make them comfortable so that they don't have to eat strange food that they don't want. Also, you know where to get food they are accustomed to, and they probably don't know how to get it. <<Just extremely thoughtful.

    :-) Marion

  6. I totally agree with all of the above comments!

    I think your basket of goodies is/was a nice gesture that your in-laws will appreciate!

    PS You are so lucky they stay in a hotel!!

  7. Unless they've told you that the baskets before were over-indulgent... then I think you're fine. I think it would be a little more presumptuous if you tried to force your diet on them.

    Since they don't seem to struggle with the same food issues, or if they do, it's not their priority to change them, you're golden putting the same basket together.

    If it makes you feel THAT guilty... put in some fruit leather, or fresh fruit and fancy cheese.

  8. Everyone has left totally astute comments and said most of what I was thinking, I'd add:

    When you stay at a hotel it's often thought of as a vacation--a time to just indulge in things you wouldn't normally do at home. I bet they look forward to your gift basket because it adds to the enjoyment/indulgence of their trip. Also, often times, when you stay at a hotel, you find yourself waking up early or staying up late and not having any food around. Being able to sit back and have a treat without having to get dressed and go searching for food, again, adds to the pleasure of the experience.

    Having said that, sometimes all the salt and sugar can leave you feeling tired and listless. Next time, buy a few bags of nuts, fruit, trail mix or something just to add a bit of variety to the basket and give them the opportunity to make a healthier choice (if they want to).

    Either way, the gesture itself is such a thoughtful one. You have to know it's the gesture that means more than the items you chose (or didn't choose).

    You are awesome and thoughtful. Don't forget that!

  9. I don't think you done anything wrong. You were just trying to treat them to things that they don't normally eat. That is a sweet thing to do. If it bothered you that much and caused you to get upset, make them a fruit basket or healthy snack basket, and then throw in one pack of sweets just in case.


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I can use all the support I can get :)