As morbidly obese people, many of us didn’t think very highly of ourselves. It’s more comfortable to blend into the wallpaper and not call attention to one’s existence. No one wants to be the 300-pound gorilla in the room – literally. At my largest size I was already self-conscious without making waves – and then come the food pushers trying to knock me off my game.
We naturally go to great lengths to please others – we want to be liked, we want to blend, and be “normal”. We don’t realize until after the weight is gone that feeling this way is human – people of all sizes can be people pleasers!
These are dangerous qualities during the holidays; especially if this is your first post op holiday season.
“Grandma baked her famous Pineapple Upside Down Cake with all that gooey caramel on top!”
“We have so much leftover Halloween candy I brought it to the office to get rid of it – have a mini-Snickers, they are tiny!”
“You have to try one of my homemade gingerbread men, they are delicious!”
“A small piece of fudge won’t hurt you, it’s Christmas!”
“You have to have just a little. You have to at least TRY IT. Just a little taste, you have lost so much weight. “
“We’re having Grandma’s yeast rolls and she made them for you! They are your favorite.”
It’s important to anticipate problems and think of how you are going to say “no”and mean it. Otherwise you won’t stand a chance when the professional food pushers come out for the holidays.
You can’t wing it. Did we ever “just say no” in the past to the incredible holiday bounty? No, of course we didn’t, which is why we were morbidly obese in the first place.
In order to obtain a different result, we have to change the way we do things. Or in plain speak – if you do what you always do you are going to get what you’ve always got! Think about THAT one!
When we are offered a gooey, melting, warm chocolate chip cookie, there comes a pivotal moment where we have a decision in front of us. We can go either way and there is that split second where we can be impulsive and take it, or we can TAKE CHARGE and firmly say ‘NO THANK YOU!’
If it makes you feel better to say “No thank you, I am a diabetic” or “No thank you, I can’t have sugar”, then do it. Sometimes we feel the need to explain ourselves. I have witnessed bariatric friends give their entire medical history to a waiter at The Outback, when “please leave the potato OFF my plate” would have sufficed. Don’t tell people about your lapband or gastric sleeve – just tell them that you don’t want them to refill your glass of iced tea – period.
To actually say no to someone takes decent boldness and PRACTICE, as it obviously did NOT come naturally in our pre-op life. While I may sound silly, we all need to practice being assertive. Later tonight, tomorrow morning, in the bathroom, practice turning down food. Say it to yourself in the mirror until it sounds like you mean it. “Wow, that really looks delicious, but no thank you, I am not eating sugar.” Don’t make a funny face, or shift from foot to foot or make it sound PAINFUL that you can’t have it – stand firm, have a little backbone and say it like you mean it. It is our choice to have a cookie or to NOT have a cookie – own it!
Always compliment the food, tell them how good it looks, then firmly turn it down. Again – “Wow, that really looks delicious, but no thank you, I am not eating sugar.”
If you think that saying no, or not eating what has been given to you puts you in the spotlight, you are sadly overestimating how much attention people pay to what you are eating. People really don’t care about your plate and how much you are eating. They are looking at their plate and are concentrating on their food, not yours!
If someone does mention that you are not eating much? So what? Let it roll right off your shoulders. They are just making conversation. Not eating Aunt Betty’s pecan pie and living with new habits that gave you your life back is more important than what people think.
Develop a *SO WHAT* attitude. Family and friends want to see you at a family gathering and are not there to take a poll of what you eat. NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU EAT.
Have you ever looked up from your plate about five minutes into Thanksgiving dinner and noticed that you are the only one looking up while everyone has their head down shoveling food? Make a point to try that this month… and it will cure you of ever worrying about what others think of your eating habits.
YOU FEEL: Concerned that people will notice that you are not eating that much.
TELL YOURSELF: So what? I am entitled to eat however I please. And if someone wants to know why, you can say ‘I’m trying to eat healthier’ and change the subject
YOU FEEL: Rude for turning down a second helping
TELL YOURSELF: Taking care of my health is more important than pleasing the host.
YOU FEEL: That you have been good and deserve a treat.
TELL YOURSELF: Every decision I make about food counts. I can find other ways to celebrate a special occasion.
YOU FEEL: Everyone is staring at you, pressuring you to eat
TELL YOURSELF: Be strong – smart eating is more important than everyone’s approval. Follow that with a firm ‘NO THANKS’ Repeat if necessary.