When food gets in the way of friendship

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 03, 2009 4:31 PM GMT
    We have a really great friend -- one we spend more time with than anyone because we share so much in common, find the same activities to be fun, and get along great.

    He is overweight, which we don't care about, we love him the way he is. But tension is starting to develop over eating habits. My bf and are highly-motivated about working out and put alot of thought into healthy eating habits -- we're not obsessed about it, but we are working hard. We are not interested in forcing our friend to join our lifestyle -- as I said, we are fine with him the way the way he is and even though he complains about his weight it's up to him to change and all we can do is be positive with him and hope that our habits influence him indirectly.

    The problem is that we all love to cook and eat out at restaurants. And this is where the tension is becoming an issue. While we don't pressure him to eat the way we do, he is constantly pushing us to eat more and to eat things we don't want to. When we stand our ground, in as polite a way as we can, he gets critical and says we're no fun. I can no longer shop with him for food if we are planning to throw it down in the kitchen, because even though we came up with a menu, his eyes are bigger than his stomach and he goes crazy... we end up arguing and getting angry at each other. Same when we order food at a restaurant. I'll tell him to get whatever he wants, but then he expects us to eat it all. He is especially bad about deserts. We don't eat it -- ever. In fact neither of us are sweets people in general. But our friend ALWAYS buys deserts and is critical and hurt when we don't eat them.

    I have talked to him about this, asking him to respect our eating habits as we respect his. And he gets it and is fine for a few weeks, but then goes back to his old ways.

    We don't know what to do anymore. He is an important friend for us, and we can't believe that food, of all things, is causing this problem. We try to brush it off because it seems petty -- should we just keep doing that? Anyone have similar experiences or thoughts?
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Dec 03, 2009 4:38 PM GMT
    I've had the same experiences, especially when I am eating out with people who don't understand the diet I'm on. I just try to change the topic and, as you've already tried, explain I'm not forcing anyone to eat my way and I'd appreciate the same in return.

    When he breaks out the "You're no fun" line, I'd answer "I have fun being with you, but not if you are going to throw a tantrum over what food I'm not eating."
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    Dec 03, 2009 4:43 PM GMT
    Well, what may appear to be petty may have greater factors associated with it. Have you ever thought that perhaps he is trying to justify his own eating habits by trying to get you to join in? Or in an odd way, he may be trying to sabotage your efforts at eating differently in order that he is more comfortable with himself? Obviously I don't know the guy, but any friend who fails to respect one's efforts- be it with any type of behavioural change, is one who needs to be looked at carefully.

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    Dec 03, 2009 4:45 PM GMT
    GymneeCrickets saidWell, what may appear to be petty may have greater factors associated with it. Have you ever thought that perhaps he is trying to justify his own eating habits by trying to get you to join in? Or in an odd way, he may be trying to sabotage your efforts at eating differently in order that he is more comfortable with himself? Obviously I don't know the guy, but any friend who fails to respect one's efforts- be it with any type of behavioural change, is one who needs to be looked at carefully.




    Great comment... my bf and I have talked about that before and had the same thoughts about it. I think both are true -- he won't feel as bad about overeating if his friends are doing the same thing. And he would feel better about himself if his two closest friends weren't making major improvements to their health and fitness.
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    Dec 03, 2009 7:03 PM GMT
    Seems kinda strange that he would encourage you to eat more, or indulge in certain foods. I'm speculating he grew up in an environment/culture where food is an element to bonding or socializing?
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    Dec 03, 2009 7:07 PM GMT
    I just ignore my friend who does that to me. They understand that I'm just not affected by his attitude when I simply choose not to eat desert or eat anything more. It's not that I undervalue his beliefs, it's just that they shouldn't matter in concepts within our friendship, and I make sure all of my friends know this.


    Maybe you should impress upon him that doing that isn't important to the friendship or connection you all share? Perhaps explaining to him again with a little more ump! to respect your decisions more. I suppose I'm not fully captivating the stress it may cause for you both, but it doesn't seem like a very big deal or something to get upset about. I'm sorry. icon_sad.gif
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    Dec 03, 2009 7:25 PM GMT
    xRichx: Yea... large Jewish family. Enough said!

    We try to follow advice of chuckystud on other threads where he says "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper," but our friend likes to eat all three like a king!

    We've been trying for a long time to not make it a big deal or get upset about it. It just wears us down and we're surprised that this is something that has started getting in the way of our friendship.

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    Dec 03, 2009 7:59 PM GMT
    Perhaps you should limit the time that you all spend together. When he makes his rude comments you don't have to always be polite. You can put him in his place with out being crass.

    Simply say look: "we eat the way we eat because we like the way that we look so back off". nuf said.
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    Dec 03, 2009 8:04 PM GMT
    I have a friend I met at work. He’s a very good man and our personalities clicked. We’re both from Michigan, and about the same age. We have shared similar personal experiences. We share a love of good food, and passing time in delis, shooting the shit. We laugh our asses off together.

    He is overweight, while I struggle to put weight on.

    We love hanging out, but lately going out to eat is a challenge. He loves Olive Garden and the like, and I love the salad bar at Jason’s deli.

    He cooks big meals at home almost everyday. His lunch bag is filled with fully thought out courses. It’s fascinating! But my friends eating habits have led him to develop digestive problems. He buys tums in huge ass bottles at Sam’s Club. I’ve taken him to the hospital when he had chest pains. Does he cut back on salt, fat, cholesterol? Does he bake cakes, pies, cinnamon rolls and eat them all himself? Sneak McDonalds? Yes. God, they’re delicious, but just plain bad to eat.

    I have told him that he will put himself in the grave if he doesn’t cut back. He doesn’t want to listen anymore. He will do what he wants.

    Over the past two months we have grown apart slightly. He only wants to go to restaurants that have loads of bad stuff. I want to spend time with him, but I can’t find anything healthy on the menus at his favorite places, besides salads.

    Where we go from here…I don’t know?!?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 03, 2009 8:31 PM GMT
    I read some of the comments but not all and I agree with most of it, my perception on the issue is that when you make a statement that refers to your reaction as petty your not respecting or honoring your own feelings or boundaries which are just as important as your freind. This issue is very deep and painful or there wouldn't be any anger or fighting to arise. Your place in the universe is of no less importance as his, and you have no idea what his contract/karma is. You've done everything you can to be supportive and helpful but everytime you go out to eat or have dinner you enable him to continue this behavior. Every child needs to grow up, and I say this from direct experience when the self esteem is very low like your freinds, there isn't anything a friend can say or do to make you feel good about yourself, because every time it feels good or going well we sabotage it and throw a big wrench in the cog so that we can have dissention and conflict and go back to that comfortable place of unhappiness. I would imagine your friendship goes beyond food, I would suggest until he can confront himself which may never happen, you find other ways to enjoy his company, because if your fighting or arguing thats not friendship at that point..its two egos wanting to be right...no matter how much we help another who treats us with disdain we still have an ego that gets hurt and wants to be right..even at small levels and it will be with us til we reach the final stage.
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    Dec 03, 2009 8:53 PM GMT
    djdorchester2 saidWe have a really great friend -- one we spend more time with than anyone because we share so much in common, find the same activities to be fun, and get along great.

    He is overweight, which we don't care about, we love him the way he is. But tension is starting to develop over eating habits. My bf and are highly-motivated about working out and put alot of thought into healthy eating habits -- we're not obsessed about it, but we are working hard. We are not interested in forcing our friend to join our lifestyle -- as I said, we are fine with him the way the way he is and even though he complains about his weight it's up to him to change and all we can do is be positive with him and hope that our habits influence him indirectly.

    The problem is that we all love to cook and eat out at restaurants. And this is where the tension is becoming an issue. While we don't pressure him to eat the way we do, he is constantly pushing us to eat more and to eat things we don't want to. When we stand our ground, in as polite a way as we can, he gets critical and says we're no fun. I can no longer shop with him for food if we are planning to throw it down in the kitchen, because even though we came up with a menu, his eyes are bigger than his stomach and he goes crazy... we end up arguing and getting angry at each other. Same when we order food at a restaurant. I'll tell him to get whatever he wants, but then he expects us to eat it all. He is especially bad about deserts. We don't eat it -- ever. In fact neither of us are sweets people in general. But our friend ALWAYS buys deserts and is critical and hurt when we don't eat them.

    I have talked to him about this, asking him to respect our eating habits as we respect his. And he gets it and is fine for a few weeks, but then goes back to his old ways.

    We don't know what to do anymore. He is an important friend for us, and we can't believe that food, of all things, is causing this problem. We try to brush it off because it seems petty -- should we just keep doing that? Anyone have similar experiences or thoughts?


    YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT HIM BEING OVERWEIGHT. THE FACT THAT YOU DON'T IS YOUR FIRST MISTAKE.

    Nearly 2 MILLION folks will die in the obesity pandemic this year, ALONE. The obesity pandemic is by very far the single largest killer of folks in our country. Obesity is skyrocketing our health care costs, and Type 2 diabetes, along with other fat-ass diseases are going over the top in a pandemic that is breaking the back of our health care system.

    You need to do the right thing and step up here. It's not just about saving a life, but, about doing the right thing for the global village.

    You have to say no to your friend, and you need to intervene (sooner is better than later) to help him save his life.

    Under no circumstances should you let him act as enabler endangering your own health by encouraging you to use food irresponsibly. Engage in leadership. It's no brainer.

    It's important that you take action to not only make sure you protect yourself, but, hopefully, save a life in the process by intervening on him. Would you save your dog? Would you save your cat? Would you save HIS cat, or dog? Of course you would. Now, you need to save HIM by telling him / showing him how to behave properly and letting him know that using food improperly is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

    You need to think more of your friend than your dog.
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    Dec 03, 2009 8:56 PM GMT
    Ugh... I've had similar experiences with friends and family over the years. My heavier friends always think I'm too skinny and are always trying to feed me crap.

    One of my best friends is HIDEOUS to go out to eat with because she is so finicky. Once she returned her food 4 times for the most ridiculous reasons. At the time I was a bartender and waiter and was so freaked out I had to quit going out to eat with her. I love her but her relationship with food is mortifying and caused me so much distress that I had to find other ways to spend time with her because I was ready to throttle her like a chicken... and apparently that's not what you do with someone you love. icon_wink.gif
    All you can do is keep trying and love him the best you can. If it becomes too much you might need to take a break or augment how and when you spend time with him. I'm sorry... that's a tough situation and no fun for anyone.
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    Dec 03, 2009 9:04 PM GMT
    I have a friend who does the same thing to me, but I started telling him exactly what was going through my head to help me make the decision not to indulge. I'll tell him, "No I don't want a desert because I know it's going to make it harder for me to get those ultra defined abs I'm after. I want to be healthy and look good. And I want to be with a physically attractive person someday, so I'm setting myself up for that now. It's cool if it's not important to you, but it is to me and nothing you say is going to change my mind." Not really much of a problem anymore.
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    Dec 04, 2009 12:53 AM GMT
    Maybe you just need to start organising everything when it comes to eating out. Invite him to your place and cook the foods you want; when you're going to eat out, choose places you want to go to.

    I have a friend who always wanted to go to this one cafe, and we all went there too but hated it. So we just started organising the get togethers, chose the cafe we liked, and said if you want to come, then we'll be here at this time.
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    Dec 04, 2009 2:22 AM GMT
    I think evreyone has that friend or acquaintance who drinks a bit too much or uses drugs to excess, and they expect everyone else to join in. It's a way of hiding from their issue...If everyone else is doing the same thing they are then there's not a problem with it. Your friend sounds like he knows there's a problem with his weight...he just doesn't want to do anything about it.

    I say compromise...a lot of the times foods from different parts of the world are pretty strong in flavoring and still are probably healthier than the typical American foods.

  • Celticmusl

    Posts: 4330

    Dec 04, 2009 2:34 AM GMT
    It's a shame but I use "Avoidance Therapy", lol. I have a friend that I get along with for the most part, but whenever we eat together he wants to go to these gawd-awful places that accept 50% off coupons and such. I want to go to a nice decent restaurant that has good food, not one desperate for business. So we really don't go out to dinner much any more. If we can't agree on the location BEFORE actually heading out the door, it's not going to happen. We do other things together, like a bike ride.

    We are still friends, and we value each others friendship.

    My suggestion is, don't let him manipulate you. You already know the issue, just work around it if you want to keep him as a friend.