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Old 02-17-2007, 10:54 AM   #1  
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Default People who sabotage efforts

I have a very nice admin assistant in my office. I also work with her husband. She is overweight, if not obese. She said that she has previously lost about 100 lbs and has had problems with her weight.

For Valentines Day, she brought in my office and handed me a piece of cake that she made along with some candy. She said that she enjoys baking, etc. etc. used to bake for her kids and now wants to bake for those of us in the office.

Well, I couldn't throw it away and so I ended up eating it.

What just infuriates me, is that I feel the "pressure" starting from other people to eat more, when I am eating healthy foods. I am not losing weight too quickly. I am not over-exercising or obsessed with food. I am very happy with my progress and my fitness goals.

Can anyone else relate to these comments and do you have any advice for counteracting them?

"Do you eat enough?"
"You can afford the extra calories."
"One tiny piece of cake won't hurt anything."
"You should be eating more [as in more cake]."
"You don't want to lose your curves [ie. fat spots]."

I just don't understand people sometimes. We hear in the news and we can see that America has a problem with obesity and health concerns associated with being obese and even being overweight. We know that there are more overweight and obese babies and kids today than in the past.

Yes, the average American woman my age is larger than I am. Does that mean I should strive for that or be happy at that weight? I don't really want to be a size 12. Are most Americans just in denial about how much they actually weigh and how much they eat and how little they exercise?

If you can't relate to this now, how do you think you will react or respond when you lose the weight, and you start getting this from very well-meaning people?

Sorry if this sounds like a rant. I would just like to know how to respond when I feel social pressure to eat something I don't want to eat.
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Old 02-17-2007, 11:11 AM   #2  
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Originally Posted by MicheleKC View Post

"Do you eat enough?"
"You can afford the extra calories."
"One tiny piece of cake won't hurt anything."
"You should be eating more [as in more cake]."
"You don't want to lose your curves [ie. fat spots]."
1) Yes I eat enough- why? Did I faint and miss it?
2) I'm really not in the mood for whatever you're convincing me to eat even if I had the appetite. Thanks, though.
3) I know, in fact, one piece of cake could change the world. I wish I could send that piece of cake around the world and save one child from starvation today.
4) No, but I'll gladly take that cake and save the world with it.
5) No I don't, but cake can't help them become more attractive, can they?
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Old 02-17-2007, 11:57 AM   #3  
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At my work there is constant things like potluck, and junk food. In 1 year I gained 13 lbs. Thanksgiving I decided to take control of food and not let it control me. When people offer cake etc, I just say thanks for thinking of me but that is not on my diet, and turn it down. They do not get mad or offended. There is rarely anything nonfattening at the potluck events so I simply do not participate and bring my own lunch, or bring in a salad or something healthy to share to try to get the idea of healthy eating across.

Try to think of yourself as a role model!

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Old 02-17-2007, 12:12 PM   #4  
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I know this is sad, but my daughter is gluten intolerant, meaning she can't eat white flours, pasta etc. I use that as an excuse, "I'm sorry, my daughter can't eat that stuff without becoming very sick, so our family has decided to not eat it as well, she's to young to understand why mom is eating it and she can't have any". If they keep pushing, then I question why they want to make me 3 yr old sick, it usually shuts them up.
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Old 02-17-2007, 12:36 PM   #5  
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"Well, I couldn't throw it away and so I ended up eating it."

First thing is to get straight about this. It is better thrown away than riding on your hips. But, I realize you couldn't throw it away in front of the giver. What I do in those situations is thank the person--I mean, it's a GIFT, and that is wonderful. Then I say I want to take it home and have later with dinner. And I find a way to wrap it up for that purpose, smiling all the while. ("No, I don't want some now and some for later, this is enough, thanks!") And then, when I get home, I throw it away. For me there isn't much choice about it at this point in my program.

Some responses:
"Do you eat enough?"
Oh, goodness yes! <laughing>

"You can afford the extra calories."
Probably so. I think I'll wait until later, though.

"One tiny piece of cake won't hurt anything."
Probably not. But I think I'll wait until later.

"You should be eating more."
Tell you what, you look in your plate, and I'll look in mine. <smiling> (I read this on 3FC and LOVED it! It's a nice way to tell someone to mind their business about food.)

"You don't want to lose your curves."
No, I don't! I like my curves. But I think I'll wait until later. <smiling>

The advantage of this kind of response is first of all, it does not make the other person feel bad, and second of all, it does not try to explain or justify my choice, which I really don't care to get into. Just decide what to do and then stay with that choice, expressing it in a nice, neutral way as many times as necessary.

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Old 02-17-2007, 01:11 PM   #6  
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Mine is so much simpler, and doesn't give anyone a second chance to sabotage (this is AFTER you have tried to be politely refuse, of course):

A slightly long, even look to the person; a small laugh that shows you aren't laughing "ha-ha, funny!" but more, "wow, I am a bit surprised" laughing, and a short answer with major eye contact: "You know, you are a sweetheart for offering, but really, no thanks. As for the weight/calorie questions, none of this is really any of your business. Thanks anyway."

It really bugs me; you or I or anyone else COULD be hurt by a piece of cake for a variety of reasons, and I have no patience for these people that have to be catered to so we don't (God forbid) offend THEM by trying to lose weight. Appalling.

And I hate to say it, but overweight people are the ones usually offended when other overweight people don't eat. It's a crabs in a barrel situation, and its unhealthy.
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Old 02-17-2007, 01:28 PM   #7  
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Perhaps your co-worker is not aware your trying to lose given your weight is already in the "normal" range.. maybe she's not trying to push food on you but just offering you a gift of food..which is traditional for valentine's day so not exactly out of the ordinary or a situation where you are actually overweight or obese (in medical terms) and everyone knows you're trying to get healthy. In that situation I think it would definitely be very rude and mean to offer the cake, but you're circumstance is different.

To me curves are not "fat spots" if they're in the "right" places..where people often find them sexy and feminine, while very low body fat often causes infertility in the form of not ovulating or menstruating, so its natural to have some "fat spots" as you call it, or curves as I call them.
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Old 02-17-2007, 01:41 PM   #8  
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you can not control other people, you can only control you. It isn't her responsibility.

I never ever use the word diet when people offer me food.

"Thank you, the cake looks lovely, unfortunately I can't eat it. I really do appreciate that you thought of me though."
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Old 02-17-2007, 05:07 PM   #9  
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A slightly long, even look to the person; a small laugh that shows you aren't laughing "ha-ha, funny!" but more, "wow, I am a bit surprised" laughing, and a short answer with major eye contact: "You know, you are a sweetheart for offering, but really, no thanks. As for the weight/calorie questions, none of this is really any of your business. Thanks anyway."
I'd save "none of your business" for if she escalates, but this is how I handle it as well. "Thanks, so very nice of you to offer."

There's also the "why are you so concerned with what I eat?" tactic.
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Old 02-17-2007, 06:39 PM   #10  
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I like the broken record technique, kind of like how we teach kids to say no to drugs or alcohol. I am starting to look much more slender, and so I'm getting those old messages again about being thin. The other thing is, I know what sugar does to me while I'm at work, more than fat. It's not just the calories. Thanks for you replies!
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Old 02-17-2007, 06:42 PM   #11  
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Food behaviors and beliefs are learned very early, and we all know they don't always make sense, but they become part of who we are. Using words like sabotage, make it seem like people around us have evil intent, and that we aren't responsible (at least not completely) if we fall victim to their evil plot.

It isn't easy but we have to change the way we think. And while we can ask people to change their behavior out of consideration, we often can't expect or demand it. Particularly, as sometimes, in essence, it is what the
what "saboteurs" are doing. "If you appreciated me, you could budget your calories so you can lose weight and enjoy the occasional treat I make for you out of love."

I know I struggled with it tremendously when I lived with my parents. My mother always seemed to be either telling me what not to eat, or being offended if I wouldn't eat what and when she wanted me to. Her "reasoning" even made a certain amount of sense. To her, if I ate the way she wanted me to all of the time, I could "afford" to splurge when she wanted me to (especially if she saw me doing so when I wanted to).

Of course, making food for our friends doesn't prove how much we love them, anymore than refusing to eat their food proves we don't love them. However, we can hardly fault them their mistaken food beliefs (If you loved/appreciated me you'd eat it) when we have our own (I can't throw it away, that would be rude).
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Old 02-17-2007, 07:15 PM   #12  
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I think veggielover's responses are a bit too snarky and may be taken the wrong way (and we all know every office has enough drama w/o anyone feeding more) -- here are my less caustic responses (they may border on self-depreciating, but that usually defuses the situation):

"Do you eat enough?" Actually, more than enough, which is why I'm gonna pass on this one.
"You can afford the extra calories." Ha, thanks! But I can't afford that extra hour at the gym/treadmill/track/etc.
"One tiny piece of cake won't hurt anything." It always just starts with just a tiny piece of cake *smile-wink*
"You should be eating more [as in more cake]." No thanks, I'm expecting a heavy meal later on (probably a lie, but oh wells)
"You don't want to lose your curves [ie. fat spots]." I don't think cakes are gonna help with my figure either.

And if all else fails, just say you're full and bring your slice back to your area, and dump it at your first possible opportunity without anyone noticing/getting insulted.

THAT being said, I don't think your co-workers are intentionally trying to sabotage your dieting efforts. They mean well, they bake & they want to share (I can even imagine that being me, if I had any baking abilities at all.) Just hold steadfast to your plan, no one's gonna force feed you - and it's OK too if you give in a little and take a few bites. My office does the birthday cake ordeal once a month, so I usually plan to eat a little lighter and work out a little harder that week.
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Old 02-17-2007, 10:31 PM   #13  
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Try -
"Thanks so MUCH! It looks GREAT! I'm going to save it for after ---- (fill in the blank with a word like COFFEE or LUNCH or MY MID AFTERNOON BREAK)" and put it away. Once your saboteur is out of sight, GET RID OF IT - no don't EAT it, just dispose of it, preferably in an area that the saboteur won't notice (i.e. DON'T dump it in his/her garbage can!).
Failing that, try "THANKS! That looks GREAT!!! I'll take it home with me for my --- (fill in the blank - husband, friend, dog, whatever!) because -- I am feeling ILL today and won't appreciate it --or -- I am allergic to GLUTEN -- or I am really sensitive to chocolate -- or whatever -- and I KNOW that this looks SO GOOD that I want someone to really APPRECIATE it". The point is that you don't have to eat it, and sometimes this approach is more effective than trying to convince someone that you can't afford the calories!!!
And, when someone says "it is just a tiny piece" or "you can afford the calories", AGREE with them, ("Yeah, I KNOW!" "You are SO RIGHT"), tell them you are going to "save it for later" and dispose of it!!!
They won't sit and watch you eat it, that's for sure, and if they do, you might ask them to pull up a chair as it will be a few hours until lunch, or coffee, or your mid-morning break!
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Old 02-17-2007, 11:48 PM   #14  
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I guess the response you take should depend on how often this would occur (ie. a food offering) and the relationship with the person. If this was likely to be a one-off thing in honour of Valentine's day, I personally would thank them and accept their gift and do the "that was really lovely of you, I'm going to save it for after dinner and let my _whoever_ try a bite too!" thing.

Otherwise, I would be upfront about it in a polite way that ensures you won't constantly have to use a million different excuses to turn her down each time. At the office where I've been working, we've had about 12 tea and cake mornings, plus special Christmas lunches and the obligatory desserts... I just say, "no thanks, I don't have much of a sweet tooth... you enjoy it though." Simple - no need to go into any diet/weight loss things... because if you say you don't even LIKE it, they can hardly launch into a "oh, it's only one piece!" campaign. Food allergies or intolerances could also be played up in this situation.

The thing is though, long term, it's better for someone to be slightly miffed that you didn't take their food than for you to feel pressurised into sabotaging yourself. Where will this person be when you're at the gym later working it off or entering it into Fitday? What does this person care if it sets you into a downward cycle and that one slice turns into a (very OFF plan) piece a day? What do random acquaintences care about our doctor's results and extra months of life expectancy we could've had? This is all a bit exaggerated, especially when most of them are genuinely well meaning, but at the end of the day IT IS YOUR LIFE, YOUR BODY AND YOUR HEALTH. You should NEVER feel like you have to eat for other people, nor should you feel guilty about thinking that!
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Old 02-18-2007, 03:11 AM   #15  
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I've had people try to get me to eat stuff I didn't. If they are persistent, I go with a simple "I choose to not eat this now." The phrase is clear, and a odd sounding enough to give them pause. I've never had anyone try to argue with that. But if I do, my next tactic would be a simple "My body, my choice."

Maybe it isn't %100 percent polite, I dunno. I don't really think it's polite to try to push high calorie food on to someone who you know has lost alot of weight and has turned you down already. There is no need to get out right rude, but I'm not going to bend over backwards to be extra nice about it, either.
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