Food Business

I have a friend whose rare medical condition requires that at least 60% of her diet be carbohydrates. Reasonably speaking, her carbohydrates also need to contain fat, otherwise she'll be hungry again in a wink. Such is the nature of carbs. As such, in the office you'll see her eating things like a bag of chips instead of a protein bar, a doughnut instead of a scrambled egg, things like that. You definitely won't see her eating turkey in a lettuce wrap every day at lunch, because that would quite literally harm her.

One of her bosses has the odious habit of commenting on her lunches and snacks. A direct quote: "Is that good for you? Is that what you should be eating? She's eating another doughnut!"

Every day he does this. She does not have an eating disorder, but he doesn't know that. She has trouble getting enough calories to keep weight on, actually, but he doesn't know that.

What he does know, as her employer, is that she has special health considerations, and that she watches them assiduously, as she must. He knows, if he's been able to keep it in his head this long, that she had to have her spleen removed within the last two years and was hospitalized this time last year, both because of her condition.

So if he stops to think about it, he knows very well that, yes, she is doing what is good for her. If he were to apply any brain power to the idea, he does know, somewhere in there, that yes, that's what she should be eating.

But he doesn't think, he doesn't hold information about her as a specific human being in his head. He just sees a woman eating a doughnut, or some chips, or a rare Cadbury Egg in the spring, and he has to comment. Because in his head, somehow, her body is his property.

I've said that before and it sounds a little hyperbolic to some, but I ask you, what else can it possibly come down to? What else would give someone the idea that they have some say in something as integral to your self as what you put into that self to nourish it, quite literally?

I'll tell you what. My friends have seen me completely freak out and have a rolling panic attack because a waitress made a totally normal suggestion about my order. And she was a waitress. You know, who specifically has to deal with other people's food. That was a year ago. Tonight I had to white-knuckle my way through almost two rolls of sushi. Small rolls. That's all. I am trying not to obsess about it or dwell on it at all, but at the moment, all I can think is how glad I am that I was eating it in my room, with the cat at the computer. Because if anyone - my husband, a friend, a family member, anyone had said word one about my food? I would have been done right that second, whether I was just one piece in or one roll. That's just where I am tonight.

My friend isn't there. But her boss doesn't know that. Her office doesn't know that. What they think they know, for some reason, is that her food is their business.

Her food is not your business. My food is not your business. Your food is your business. Mind your own business.


  1. Omgosh. I don't know if it was your intent (or maybe it was?) but I am properly and thoroughly chastised. :(

    I have my own eating issues but in addition to that my husband is overweight. One of my major emotional/eating issues is that i have it in my head that if I lose weight, he'll lose weight (by osmosis? diffusion? magic?) and so whenever i see him drink/overeat/snack/etc I make comments. I am simultaneously thinking "oh F, he's fat enough, wtf is he eating that for?" AND "NOooooo don't eat that! If you eat, i have t starve to punish me/you/the world" and "Man, I wish i could just tuck into food without guilt like that" AND "Oh golly, if he is "allowed" to I can too but if I start I won't be able to stop" and on and on .... and inevitable I end up making some comment.

    Suffice to say i'll try to stay out of his business. (And mentally disassociate it from my own.)

  2. Thanks, CN. trufax all around.

  3. Vianki, believe me, I get the same impulses with my husband. Part of that, I think, is due to my own issues with food, but part of it is definitely due to the totally pervasive suggestion of meddlesome ownership that the current body and food culture foists on us in little insidious ways, all the time. So I think when you have your own issues with food, whichever angle they approach from, that quality of ownership gets an extra little boost, you know? Sitting over here with my prestigious Armchair Psychologist degree, I'd hazard a guess that my friend's boss, on some level, wishes he could be eating those doughnuts, or feels superior because he is not eating those doughnuts, or something else that's totally irrelevant to the fact that a doughnut is basically just the precise kind of energy my friend's body needs.

    PF, trufax indeed. Down with food commentators everywhere. :p

  4. Thank you thank you thank you.

    I've been working in a bakery for about a month. Every single day I listen to people obsess over what they're going to eat, which whatever, that's their business, although it tends to make me sad--but then some of them will ask about my diet, speculate over how I manage to "resist" all the "fattening pastries," etc. The other day a (male) customer caught me eating a bagel and went on a long monologue about how cutting bread products out of one's diet is the best way to lose weight.

    Someday I'm going to break down and scream that I pretty much only eat when I'm at work, and they're ruining it for me. Arrrrrrgh.

  5. This happens a lot at my work. Everyone is freaking obsessed with food. Every time a morsel comes out:
    "Ooo, what do you have there?"
    "Gosh, that looks healthy." (celery)
    "Morning tea time, is it?" (muffin)
    "Ooo-hoo, feeling naughty huh?" (anything not on their diet)

    I put it down to people being repressed about food, and have taken to wearing my headphones while I'm microwaving my none-of-you-god-damn-business-soup.

    The problem is when it gets snarky - I moved to a new department a month or so ago, and was put in a desk where my back is to the boss but he has a full view of me and my desk at all times. I graze all day, on olives or crackers or whatever (so sue me), and apparently he noticed. Occasionally he'd walk by and f**king smirk and say something like "Still eating, Elly?"

    Point being, I told someone this after I got especially pissed off one day, and they looked all shocked and told me that this amounted to harassment, and bossman could be reported for it. You could probably tell your friend the same thing.


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