Monday, August 20, 2012

Other People's Feelings

"I didn't want to be rude, so I ate."

I've said that many times in the past, actually almost every time I went to someone's house, was invited out for some occasion, or was just with someone who wanted to eat more than I did ... I ate to please them, to keep them company, or just because that was the social occasion called for.

Food is an important part of the social scene here in Bangladesh. Cooking good (rich) food is how people welcome you and express their hospitality ... and if you don't eat, they get insulted. Even if you just taste a little, they get irritated that you didn't eat more - Eat. Eat. Eat. For such a poor country, it's incredible how much of our lives revolve around food.

It stresses me out.

Eid celebrations mainly revovle around food. You visit friends and relatives and you eat at their house. Since it's a celebration, we're not talking some veggies and dip here; we're talking lots and lots of rich, rich food.

Since we've arrived (14 hours ago), we've already received 6 dinner invitations. We're only here for 5 days so that should give you an idea of how much of a dilemma it can be.

I declined all the dinner invites.

I just won't be able to handle it. I know they mean well, but I don't think I can even taste the foods as they'll be really rich and heavy. Everyone in our family, particularly my dad's side, is an amazing cook. In fact, one household (13 brothers and sisters) have their own catering company ... so the food is delicious. I just can't handle it anymore.

I know that people are not happy. I know they want to have D and I over and show us their hospitality. It is out of kindness that they want to entertain us ... but I couldn't accept just for the sake of politeness.

I know it's hard to say no. I've eating out of a false sense of obligation so many times. The thing is, it may please the host, but it won't please me. If I knew that I could get away with just eating a little or sticking to something healthy, then I would go -- but I can't guarantee that.

I'm trying to make it up to them by inviting them over to the hotel I'm staying at to join us for coffee. Then the meeting will really be about seeing each other and spending time together versus eating, eating, and more eating.

It's hard. As I said, I know I've offended people by refusing invites (someone is actually still holding a grudge against me and D for not visiting them 2 1/2 years ago. STILL!! She complained to my mom ...). Still, at some point you've got to make yourself a priority. I've been trying to manage the situation in 1 of 3 ways - either refuse the invite, tell them what I'd like to eat to control the menu/food preparation (with close relatives I can get away with this), or invite them over so that they can order what they want and I can do the same for myself.

I know my last few posts have been about food, but it's been on my mind. All these realizations are relatively new, and I feel like it is SUCH an important part of trying to take my goal of getting healthy to the next level. I just need to keep reiterating the fact that I am in control of what I eat. Nobody else. Eating to please someone else won't do me any favors ... and I'll have to suffer the consequences, not them. I guess this is why surrounding yourself with like-minded/supportive people of your endeavor to lose weight is such an important component --- but that's a topic that can be saved for another post.


  1. I admire your willingness to put aside socializing for the sake of your health. That would be very hard for me to do - but i do notice that I have been less social this summer and it has benefited me and my waistline!
    It stinks that family and friends cannot understand that by not eating their food, you are not being offensive - but only trying to do what is best for you. I like your idea of having them meet on your turf so that you can control what is served. Good thinking!

  2. That's such a tough situation; when the food pushers are people we honestly love who are pushing food that we honestly appreciate the preparation and emotions behind it...I think you're better off not attending any festivities at all than attending and trying to limit your intake, or attending one dinner and having everyone else you declined be upset with you. It's very primitive, isn't it, how we all -- cultures across the world -- overeat in times of happiness (particularly after religious fasting periods, of course) as if we were all still hunter-gatherers who might live in fear of failed crops and decreased herds; who act like there isn't a supermarket with 60,000 items on the shelves a five minute drive away (for me, at least). And if your family and friends don't understand/respect what you're doing and why you won't partake in the gluttony you risk alienation and hurt feelings. I think you're doing the right thing, for what it's worth!

  3. This is a tough one! I know in my family too, food plays such a huge role in our family gatherings, and too often it is not healthy choices. I have a cousin who is a vegan, though, so I tell myself if she can do it, so can I - so we eat as healthy as we can, although I do eat meat which makes it a little easier.

    Good for you for making he best choice for your health.

  4. Coming from an Italian heritage, I can certainly understand the pressure from family to eat the food that they have prepared. Food is love, right? For me, my family takes great pride in making the food that their great grandmothers made and to not eat it is extremely offensive to them. I hate to hurt their feelings and not eat. Often, if it's a family event I just suck it up and eat off plan. I give you a ton of credit for refusing the invites, especially knowing that people would not be happy. That shows courage & dedication on your part. The right decision is often not the easy one, is it?


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