"What are you eating?" and living with parents again
Does anyone else hate this question?
I absolutely do, and, as I've had to temporarily move back in with my parents, I've been running into it again.
At first I slipped back into the tactic I used in high school and give an irritatingly non-informative answer "a snack" etc.
Two problems with that, though...
1. Then and now neither my parents nor siblings get the hint. They just keep asking follow up questions. "Yes, but what is it?"
2. I know that's a very juvenile thing to do, so I really don't want to do it anymore.
I tried just politely asking that they not comment about my food, and it didn't go very well. My answers was that they really don't care.
I didn't say anything in response, but...if they don't care why do they keep pushing? Or why ask in the first place?
The bigger problem is that this comes from a background of deep seated issues with food that I've only recently made progress on, and I'm truly afraid of backsliding. I'm in recovery from binge eating disorder. I also have bad associations from my childhood with that question. Remember that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding:
Girl: (wrinkles nose) "What's that?!"
Toula: "It's moussaka"
Girl: (gasp) "Moose kaka?"
Classmates: (giggle, giggle, giggle)
Yeah...I lived that scene a few times as a kid.
I don't know when I'll be moving out. I'm starting a new job and hopefully will get my first paycheck in January. However, my parents actually want me to stay as long as possible. They've told me as much in those exact words. The reason is that they're worried about where the economy will go in the next few years and want me to save as much money as I can...I guess they figure that since they have space for me it makes sense for everyone for me to live there and everyone share costs of food, etc. rather than me paying rent somewhere else. The problem is I'm not sure that plan is the healthiest thing for me emotionally because they obviously just do not get how loaded a question that kind of thing is for me.
I can remember getting actual anxiety if someone saw me coming out of the kitchen with food or a drink and I just be praying I could make it past without being asked THAT question. It, I'm sure, contributed to me developing the habit of eating in secret, and I'm really scared of falling back into that.
That's rough. :(
Do they realize that you're in recovery from BED, or have you kept that to yourself? Do they take it seriously or brush it off?
I know that if I were in your shoes, I'd be outta there ASAP, but that's my parents, my mom's own screwed up relationship with food, and my higher-than-normal (I guess) need for privacy. And now that I've been spoiled by having complete control over my kitchen, I'd have a hard time dealing with high-carb eaters, especially if I had a history of BED.
I also know I'd rather have my mental health and daily quality of life to be very good, and not staying in a situation where I was unhappy just because of fear of the future. So I guess it depends on how it affects you from day to day. Do you dread going home sometimes, or dread leaving your room? No one should feel like that. Home should be your sanctuary, even if it's a tiny little apartment. And you should enjoy your time with your parents as an adult, not feeling like there's constantly tension and it feeds your anxiety.
Best of luck, keep us posted.
Well the high-carb eaters thing is actually one thing that isn't a worry for me because my dad is also low carb.
However, them knowing about my history with BED...I've kind of told them, but they don't really take it seriously, and, I think, certainly don't understand how much of an impact an emotionally dysfunctional relationship with food is, and that, yes, being asked a simple question IS triggering!
The reality is that you can't control other people's behavior. Maybe if your parents knew more about your struggle they would stop asking you the questions that trigger you but maybe not. The person whose behavior you have a possibility of controlling is yourself. Your choice is to either find ways to counter your reactions to their questions, that is work with your internal responses, and if that's not possible you probably need to move out as soon as you can. Sometimes you just can't get other people to understand much as you might want them too. You need to figure out how to best take care of yourself. I've never found worrying excessively about an uncertain future to be very beneficial although I have certainly done enough of it in my life. It's enough of a challenge to deal with what's happening in the here and now.
Sometimes it's hard being a parent. They love you a lot because they want you to stay as long as you want. Maybe they think if they say nothing you'll think they don't care so just explain it to them and that will help them to understand how you feel and how they can be helpful.
Hm. Yes, I hate that question. And I have recovered from BED.
I'm trying to put myself in your position. You have two big "projects" - emotional and physical healing from BED, and establishing your new normal in a place where your parents may have a different vision of what normal should be. And they might be slow on the uptake that you are different from what they envision, or they might never really see you. bummer huh.
Good food at the right times will give you strength and resilience on the BED side. At least it did for me.
As to establishing a new normal under pressure from parents. What worked for me was disengaging from the old ways, and quietly going on with my new ways. But I hate direct confrontation, maybe you are different.
For example, they ask what you are eating, and you answer. What if instead of answering, you said, "why do you ask". and then if they say something, ask why they said THAT.
You never have to say what you're eating and why, and you get them talking about themselves. This can be really fun I found.
At least if you acknowledge you have two big projects you can be easy on yourself if one or both of them don't go so well at times. Overall it will be good when you persist.
Can you just keep your food apart as much as possible, maybe get your own fridge and opaque containers/wrappers? If they're just curious and not digging too much, why not just keep your own space for your food in a way that's comfortable for you.
It could be tricky managing the situation, but you can just get very centered on why you're there for your own reasons and progress in life. How important is it to you to save money, is this a support now more than a hindrance. And if so just get clear on how you need to live the way you want and not get enmeshed with them. (Also work on a Plan B in case you feel it's important for your health and psyche to find our own place.)
Renting is so challenging now in many areas, and so many are dealing with job uncertainties, that cutting back on expenses might be a high priority. I know people of all ages who have moved in with relatives who never thought they would and are trying to make it work. So gather your strength (and keep your sense of humor, love the Greek Wedding reference) and don't let them affect how you want to eat and live, even if you're sharing living quarters.
I'm always so impressed by the posters on here who are able to stay on plan and still cook off-plan foods for other family members, that takes a lot of strength and commitment!
Is "None of your beeswax" an inappropriate response? :D
Can't you just tell them? "I'm eating a sausage." Or whatever it is you're eating. Are you assigning some kind of motivation to the question that may or may not be there? It is easy to read all kinds of things into what could well be a harmless question. Maybe they said it because it smells good and they want some.
Just try to let it go. You can work on you. Your emotional responses are yours to own. Chose your battles, and don't make ones you don't have to fight.
The comment that recently set me off was of the somewhat judgemental variety. I'd made myself a very large iced coffee with almond milk, and my mom's comment was "Good grief, that's a huge drink! What is that?"
Not all inquiries come with that. Sometimes the question is just "what are you eating?" and it probably is just curiosity, but I never know if it's just curiosity or if the actual question isn't so much "what are you eating?" as "why are you eating?" or even "why are you eating so much?"
To be honest, I really just don't want to be dealing with this at all. I know I sound so ungrateful, but after having been on my own for 5 years...I don't like having to navigate inquiries from my parents (or even my siblings) about what I'm eating or doing, etc.
My struggles with BED. They just aren't going to get it. I've told my dad about it in the past, and he...kind of gets it maybe, but he's also struggled with weight so I think that he doesn't quite understand because he assumes my experience with it is the same as his, and my mom is not going to get it. She and I can just never really communicate on things like this. I don't know why, but I accepted long ago that when it comes to emotional issues she's never going to react the way I want.
Even now, when I asked for no questions about my food and they got mad...well there haven't been any questions since then, and, TBH, that's the best possible outcome. I'm willing to accept some defensiveness and yelling in the moment if it stops the comments that really mess me up mentally.
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