On Diet Civility

I spoke recently for a group, and in the course of explaining how I manage my weight on a day to day basis I mentioned that I had found certain foods that were both supportive, and treats for me. I shared that I loved pineapple and I could eat a whole one in a day easily, and had a few days earlier. A woman in the front row interrupted me and said, “Ooh, that’s bad. You can’t eat that much fruit!”

I smiled and said that it works for me.

The interaction left a bad taste in my mouth, and after thinking it over, I think I know why. There are a couple of elements at play, the first one being that I was brought up to consider it the height of rudeness to comment negatively upon what another person is eating. I would never, ever comment disparagingly on your meal if we were dining together, nor would I ever tell you that what you are eating is “wrong.” It’s just rude. But beyond mere rudeness, it displays a lack of understanding of how varied the available routes to health are. I stood before her, the proof of 8 years of success maintaining a 200 pound weight loss, and she thought to inform me that I was doing it wrong because the program she was currently participating in didn’t allow that much fruit.

There are so many different ways to do it. As many as there are people who want to do it. When it comes down to it, whatever works for you, is what works for you. It may or may not work for me, and my regimen may or may not work for you. I don’t think that the way I eat would work for too many people long-term, but I know that the basic skills I have built will absolutely work for anybody to adhere to whatever path they choose. The specifics are your business, and since I’m not living in your body I certainly am in no position to judge.

But, and this is the crux of the matter for me, I would never, ever call you on whatever you were doing to manage your weight, judge you, or tell you it was incorrect. I would never point at what you were eating and say, “Oh, well I guess some people can eat that…” (which I’ve actually had said to me). In fact, were you to meet me in person you’d find that I don’t bring up dieting or weight management unless you bring it up first, and in fact, I may not even take the bait if you do, unless you very specifically ask me a direct question to elicit my opinion or advice. I’m not selling anything, so there’s no benefit for me to be constantly promoting this blog or my choices, all I’m likely to do is alienate people. I don’t want that.

Weight management is so very sensitive that in general I take an arms-length approach to conversing on the topic at all. It’s part of why I write this blog – almost everything I know and do is here and can be found with a quick google search. People that know me know my story, and that they can ask me if they are interested, but I would never push my methods or advice in person – there are so many more interesting topics to discuss! Please don’t think me rude if I don’t enthusiastically launch into discussions of your weight or dietary choices, I like to think it is the exact opposite.

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13 Responses to “On Diet Civility”

  1. Princess Dieter Says:

    I come here because of your openness, intelligence, and the fact that you are keeping it off. I am always interested in the folks who KEEP IT OFF…because so few do. And though I strongly believe every person has to find the way to keep it off for THEIR OWN lifestyle and preferences and medical conditions, etc, I will happily tell people what helped and what did NOT help on the journey, or what helped in X stage but not so much in Y stage, or my evolution. But my evolution may not be THEIRS. I have medical conditions that affect things, metabolic issues, and food allergies that prevent me from eating some super-healthful foods that others SHOULD add to their diet. My preferred forms of exercise may not suit them at all. The books that CLICKED for me may not click for them, and the ones that will give them insights may bore me to death.

    But, I look for encouragement and knowledge every day to make this journey one of success..and yours is a key blog for me. YOur’e a realist. You don’t sugarcoat. You are insightful. And you’re doing the maintenance gig. THANKS for having this blog.

    And, oh, I could easily eat 15 servings of fruit a day. But being someone who was pre-diabetic/Insulin Resistant, I try to keep it to no more than 4. The dietitian recommended no more than 2 to 3, but dang, I love fruit. I wish I could live on it all day long, pineapple after mango after pear after papaya after grapes after cherries after strawberries after persimmons after kiwi after grapefruit and on and on. LOVE FRUIT! Sigh.

  2. Princess Dieter Says:

    Oh, and same here about diet. I was pushier earlier in my journey, cause I feared for my loved ones’ lives (and, as it turned out, I regret I wasn’t pushier with my nephew, whose morbid obesity complicated a medical issue and he died at 44 last summer). Now, I’ll address it if folks bring it up. And many will (well, I lost a lot of weight and people are curious about the “how”.) I find it best to let THEM bring it up, because then they have an interest in it, as opposed to me pushing. I have stopped leaning on younger relatives, and just pray. Cause morbid obesity and lesser obesity are both rampant…and I don’t want to lose more. And I want them to be able to feel good before they get old and the ramifications on joints, liver, heart, and pancreas become horribly evident. But the pushy stage has passed. šŸ˜€

    • Laina Says:

      Yeah, I can’t say there wasn’t a time when I didn’t introduce the topic now and then, but I like to think I’ve learned since then… šŸ˜€ And yes, you are totally an inspiration – of course people are curious!

  3. lisalys Says:

    That gal was ~so~ annoying!!! She’s in the group I just graduated to (the ‘everybody who isn’t paying boatloads of $$ and only eating product’ group *g*), and I’ve been dreading going the entire time we were off because of her. So last night was our first meeting of the year, and my first one with the new group (3 guys from my old group were there). She wasn’t there. Everybody else who was there was very friendly and supportive, nobody was rude, and the leader actually told people who were getting too loud at one point to knock it off and rejoin the group. In a friendly way, but in a way that made me realize that if that gal does show up and does pull her “I know better than you” stuff, that the leader would probably shut her right down. :->

    Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit more comfortable about the group dynamics, now! :->

  4. Caron Says:

    As always, a great post. Thank you. šŸ™‚

  5. Laurie C Says:

    It always astonishes me when random people try to give advice to someone who is clearly more successful than they are at whatever they are talking about. When my hair was four feet long, people would tell me that I was brushing it wrong. I just have to laugh at this woman, who clearly was there because of your experience in this area, just had to out her 2 cents in. If you’re talking to an expert, for heavens’ sake listen!

  6. kristi Says:

    I love seeing what works for others, that way I can evaluate and maybe change it up!

  7. Kristin Says:

    Yes, you have to find what works for YOU! I’m also a realist..I am on the HMR plan and let me tell you, I can eat 4 entrees and all of my shakes with no problem. And I find it interesting when other people in class will say to me, “Wow, I could NEVER eat that much.” šŸ™‚ Well, we are all in that class because obviously, we all CAN eat that much…We can eat that much in chips, chocolate, big Mac’s, etc….

    I’m a volume eater…I ALWAYs will be, but now I am going to be a Volume eater of fruits and vegetables..because that’s what works for me.

    Thanks for being honest. You have kept that 200 pounds off BECAUSE you are honest!

  8. Jane at keepingthepoundsoff.com Says:

    Amen!
    She responded to what is obviously working with criticism but you replied to her intelligently and with honesty and class.

    I eat quantities of protein that are higher than many people who I speak f2f with and have been keeping the pounds off (220) for over 5 years but they tell me I am wrong to be eating 8 oz of ff Greek yogurt or 8 oz of salmon in a day. And then they tell me I should not be having this and that and such and such,

    I think that people who are critical of other peoples food (without an express invitation), are in trouble with their acceptance of their own food plan.

    Jane~

  9. Susie Says:

    I would agree with you about people making comments on your diet approach. I do that negative people are just that negative.
    I think people sometimes just want everyone to be like them. I think anyone who maintain their weight is wonderful no matter how !!!
    I get people say to me that they could never go to a weekly meeting. I just say we all have different priorities. For me I am going to do what ever it takes me to do to maintain my weight. Ie weekly meetings. Of eating pineapple. Lol ( I had to add that)

  10. Zana Hart Says:

    Princess Dieter :
    I come here because of your openness, intelligence, and the fact that you are keeping it off.

    That’s exactly what I came here to say!

  11. Rachel Says:

    I wish the entire weight loss/fitness/dieting blogosphere would read your excellent entry on civility here, and take it to heart. Amen to everything.


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