I don’t like eating alone. If hungry and alone, I’d rather eat at my desk than in the office dining room. In my hotel room instead of a restaurant. In my car instead of a café or under a tree having a picnic.
It’s not that my meal consists of a week’s worth of shopping, or a take-away, or pies and sweets galore. It can be a fresh salad with lean protein, fresh fruit and water, or a carefully selected, low calorie sandwich but I’ll still hide to limit exposure to watchers.
Seeing big people eating is fascinating. Every mouthful is interpreted as a stuffing, every delicate nibble smirked at.
The assumption is that if you are big you A) can afford to skip a few meals- and should, B) that it’s ok to be judged by strangers as fat is unhealthy, is unfashionable and is thus plain wrong, right? and C) a big person will eat everything in sight, including the table, other people’s food and, if you’re not careful, small lost children which they like to take home and roast whole.
I tried the ‘grazing’ method of dieting years ago: small portions of healthy food through the day, only when you felt hungry and only enough to take the edge off. One of my former colleagues whispered hoarsely to another ‘No wonder she’s so fat, she’s always eating.’ followed by their sniggering and glancing over at me. That was the end of the diet and the start of leaving the office to eat in my car.
Even what you drink is judged. Having something for consumption in your hand is generally distasteful. Water seems acceptable, a cardboard coffee cup likewise – provided it is of a suitable, average size. Yet seeing these liquids being consumed elicits additional fascination – and God help you if it’s a diet soda.
Adverts pop-up online: ‘The single most important thing for dieters to discover.’ The responding joke is ‘Push away from the table’. At least that joke acknowledges – but barely – that one has to eat even when losing weight.
Talk amongst the women in my family has been of concerns for Doris, her health and her impending stomach bypass surgery, which she has now agreed to have. She has been advised to try to lose weight before-hand by herself, either for getting a head start but also, I imagine, because surgery risks are higher when one is morbidly obese.
What I don’t know is any medical considerations behind her weight – increase, maintenance or difficulty at reduction; I don’t know how she cooks, what she eats or how much. What I do know is that seeing her eat a bar of chocolate mid-afternoon was fascinating.