Why the Fascination with My Food?

I just returned from a conference, where I had many meals at tables of eight. Like many such events, many people commented on my continued weight loss, which is always nice. However, this year, just as many people, if not more, commented on my eating. It seemed like a non-stop social commentary on what I was eating, why I was eating that way, why I shouldn’t be eating that way and more.

In one way, I kinda get it. I mean, if I see someone who’s lost a lot of weight, my first question is, “How did you do it?” Before I lost weight, I wanted to know how they did it so I could try. And now that I’ve lost weight, I’m mostly just curious. But under no circumstances, before or after I lost weight, do I feel the need to comment on what they’re eating.

For the record, and most of you reading this know by now, I’ve lost weight slowly and in a healthy way. I work out with a trainer twice a week, get at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise at least five days a week and by and large, foods as close to their natural state as I can get them. (This means eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins instead of pre-packaged, processed foods or fast food.)

Here are some of the comments I received:

“Yeah, I did what Mary Pat did, but I’m not going overboard like she is.” This is from someone else who has lost a lot of weight and was said in reaction to me eating a fresh fruit platter and a Two Moms in the Raw granola bar.

“Mary Pat is having that because she’s on a diet.” For the record, this is a lifestyle change, and eating clean isn’t a “diet,” it’s a new way of life.

From someone who saw me eat a small portion of peach cobbler. “Oh, she can’t eat chicken salad, but she’ll eat peach cobbler.” Yep, I eat clean most of the time, but I also allow myself an occasional treat.

“Yeah, we’re just looking at your plate. Scrambled eggs and pineapple. Lots of yellow. What’s up with that?” Uh, I love fresh pineapple, and I’m having some scrambled eggs. There’s no reason, other than it’s what I wanted. It’s a coincidence that it’s all yellow.

“If you don’t start eating better, you’re going to dry up and blow away.” I have so much to say to that. First of all, I strength train twice weekly, and I am strong. I am also at the high end of a healthy weight range, so I’m in no danger there. Finally, and most importantly, I monitor nutritional facts, and I get plenty of protein, calcium and other vital nutrients.

“Yeah, Mary Pat can’t eat any (insert food type here.)” It’s almost like they’re daring me to “cheat.” I actually choose to eat the way that I do, and if I wanted any (insert food type here), I’d eat it, but eat it in moderation.

“My grandfather lived until he was 90, and he ate red meat very day. Whole milk and dessert, too.” I just don’t know what to say to that.

While I don’t think any of these people have any bad intentions, after a while, it becomes quite annoying. I do not come to the table preaching healthy eating or condemning them for their food choices. I don’t force my views on others, nor do I talk about it unless someone asks. I don’t make a big deal out of what I’m eating, so why do they? What is it about eating differently that causes such a hubbub with folks?

Ever experienced similar reactions to healthy eating? How did you handle it? Would love some good advice that doesn’t involve me changing what I eat. I usually just try to take it all in stride; I rarely react verbally, and when I do, it’s someone I know well.

7 Comments
  1. Your experiences are not foreign to me Mary Pat, nor others I’m certain. My favorite response, especially for acquaintances, is to chuckle and say “It’s crazy, isn’t it?” and for some reason it moves the conversation in a direction away from the food discussion. In fact I just re-read your post and inserted this comment after each of your examples and I think it’ll work for you too. Have a Happy Healthy Eating Day!

  2. I think it’s mostly jealousy, to just be honest about it. I think they see how healthy you are, and they are jealous. Jealous that they don’t have the willpower to change, jealous of the strides you’ve made, etc. I really don’t think it’s anything negative towards you, though, when you boil it right down to the core. They’re probably just upset with themselves for not living a healthy lifestyle like you! Keep up the GREAT work!

  3. I just have to say it……Those same well-meaning people are probably the same ones that always give over weight people cookies, candies and sweets for Christmas. Keep it up. You inspire me!

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