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I am at my Mom's house this weekend, and I read a column by Dear Abby that could have been written about someone on the BTD. Here is the letter, written by a mother and grandmother who Abby nicknamed Stumped.
"Dear Abby: Over the past two years my daughter and son-in-law have lost a lot of weight. They as well as my grandsons eat very little and don't like having to order food. My problem is not knowing how to celebrate without food. When I think of holidays, I think of a family meal. Any ideas?"
This is the other side of the coin, and I think that those of us on the BTD need to give our friends and relatives a little help. I can imagine that the writer of this letter has been brought up to think of food as a way of showing love. She shows people she cares by preparing a large (and probably delicious) meal. She doesn't know how to say "Happy Birthday" without a cake. She doesn't know how to say "Merry Christmas" without candy, and she doesn't know how to say "Good Morning" without bacon.
In her mind, when the daughter and the grandchildren reject her food, they are rejecting her as well and they are spurning her love. There are a lot of people out there like Stumped, and they aren't all mothers and grandmothers. Some of them are friends and neighbors.
They aren't going to want to hear a lecture about diet and exercise. I'm guessing that Stumped, after years of celebrating with food, is probably overweight herself. Seeing her daughter's family looking fit makes her feel guilty. They do deserve some kind of explanation. I've started saying, "I don't eat bread because it upsets my stomach." It's true, and it's brief. Plus, it's hard for someone to come back and insist that I eat something that I just said would make me feel bad.
I often volunteer to bring something to a celebration meal. That helps the hostess, and it helps me too because I know that there will be something that my family and I can eat with enthusiasm.
Abby had some good ideas. She urged Stumped to think of activities other than food. She suggested a movie, a sporting event, or a hike. She suggested bringing along healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables. There are no guaranteed solutions. I can just imagine Stumped showing up with a bag o orange slices for a family of Type Os and Type As. That would be a disaster!
If you have a technique that has smoothed things over with someone like Stumped, I hope you will add it as a comment to this blog. I don't want to jeopardize my health, but I do want to be aware that there are lovely people on the other side of the coin who haven't discovered the BTD...yet.
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