Obsession assumption

I went to a local farmer's market this morning, since the weather was nice.  I was visiting the various booths, sampling things and just seeing what was available.  The farmer's market had more than just produce--there was quite a few stands with gourmet prepared food.  One was sampling roasted coffee, along with applesauces and such. 

As I was standing there, sampling the coffees, she kept saying how her foods were low in sugar and easy on the waistline.  And so on.

My first thought: is it that obvious that I've gained weight?

My second thought: why are you assuming that I'm worried about stuff like that?

I don't blame her, exactly.  She's just trying to sell her stuff.  I know from when I worked craft fairs that a lot of making a sale is trying to figure out what the customer is thinking.  I guess I fit the bill of the food obsessed: young, female, decently dressed.  And part of it was probably a reflection of what the woman herself was thinking, what she thinks when she decides whether to buy food.

But it irritates me that being diet-obsessed is considered the default mindset.  It's sad, really.  That it's safe to assume that the majority of people look for what's not in a food than how it tastes or what is in it (flavor, texture, etc).  I know plenty of people have to read labels, and that reading labels isn't necessarily disordered.  It can be a very normalized thing.  But still...  It's become so not only are people expected to be obsessed with food labels, but it's expected that they should be obsessed.

I know the lady was just trying to make a sale.  She did annoy me, but it was more the assumption that I found irritating rather than the lady herself.  It would be really nice if I could find somewhere where people didn't obsess.

A girl can dream, right?

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Emily said...

Oh, Carrie, I couldn't agree more. When I see products advertising "100 calories per serving" or "figure friendly", it makes me think that those are concepts I should be thinking about when choosing food when I know that I really shouldn't. Doesn't anyone advertise taste anymore? I recently saw avocados that were "half the fat of regular avocados". I wanted to scream! Please, don't ruin something as pure as avocados, and please don't give me reason to feel guilty about eating the regular ones.

-Emily H.

Anonymous said...

for me this is why the ed frustrates me because food isn't something i can eliminate from life. i recently had an experience with a zero cal something (if it's less than 5 per serving it can be listed as such) and got very ill because of it. after all i could think was that it wasn't even real food and i earned it. it's been a long time since i've been to the farmer's market but i loved the purity of the Amish stands. just facts, usually amazing food (if i let myself have it) and they could care less how i look. they're always sold out first, maybe because they aren't trying to sell anyone anything. some things speak for themselves.
being more psych than science i do know that you're right about one thing. it's got more to do with her than you. it almost always does.
i hope there were GOOD things about being there.

hm said...

Oh, honestly. People can be so stupid. No one should EVER remark on someone's body. That includes the words "fat" "skinny" "ass" and even "waistline." It's just rude. She has probably offended more people than just you. You'd be doing her a service (and perhaps yourself one too, if you feel better after expressing yourself) to go back, look her in the eye, and say, "You know, that's really offensive. If you want to make a sale with me, don't remark on my waistline. I buy food b/c of how it tastes."

PJ said...

I think a lot of it is in the delivery of what they say too. I recently had an experience where I was determined to buy something and then sit down and eat it - but I really just couldn't decide. I took so long and then there was a lull in trade and I was the only there for a bit - and the lady quietly enquired what sort of food I was looking for - did I want a cake or something more 'low fat'. Now if she had announced to all and sundry that 'see these scones are low fat' I would have walked out - she knew what I was looking for, but her delivery was spot on.

Briony said...

I totally agree! This annoys me a lot in packaging and advertising. I want to scream every time another advert featuring scrawny models eating the lastest low-calorie chocolate/yogurt/whatever comes on. I don't think that these kinds of adverts can help anyone adopt a healthy attitude to food- whether they're overweight or underweight.
I want to cheer every time a food advert comes on TV that focuses on the taste rather than supposed 'health' benefits of the food. Sadly a lot of them seem to be aimed at men (at least the ones for 'proper' chocolate bars are).
I guess the only thing we can do is try our best to adopt a healthy attitude ourselves. And maybe boycott some of the products that are the worst offenders advert-wise (in the case of Special K etc, hardly a great loss in my opinion).

Amy said...

I get really irritated when waiters and waitresses assume that I want diet soda. &it gives me wild headaches (instead of it just being a preference issue), so I can't just drink it and not deal.

Libby said...

I agree. It's so frustrating.

If it helps any, my guess is that she wouldn't have made that comment about the waistline to someone who was overweight for fear of offending them. She probably saw that you were a nice, normal, non-overweight size and therefore were obsessive about staying that way. So try not to take her comment too personally (though I know that's hard to do).

Katie said...

That irritates me too, because eating disorder or not, I've never been worried about the aesthetics of thinness and I resent the assumption that it's a universal concern amongst women. I am a bit irritating in those situations - I remember someone telling me in a shop that I was buying such a healthy lunch a couple of years ago - it was a 150kcal salad, for goodness sake - so I told her that I didn't believe that low calorie = healthy, I had a milk allergy and couldn't eat any of the sandwiches, but look at the nice roasted cashew nuts and dairy free chocolate muffin I was eating with my salad :P

I am horrified about the avocados Emily mentions! Avocados shouldn't be fat reduced. WTF. Grrrr.

RachelB said...

My second thought: why are you assuming that I'm worried about stuff like that?

Delurking to say that I share your frustration with the assumption that we all want to change our bodies. I don't have any ED history, but there are lots of people I care about who have fraught relationships to food, some of whom would find that kind of sales pitch day-ruining.

Jenny said...

Hi Carrie,

My name is Jenny and I have been following your blog for a year now as well as on twitter. I absolutely love all that you offer. My brain and your brain seem to be VERY similar so reading all the articles you posts helps keep things in perspective for me. Oddly enough I have found that we seem to be at a very similar point in recovery...it is a very lonely point. I feel as if I am the only one eating this much all the time. I just feel like you know how hard this is and what I am going through and I thought I would reach out for some help, because honestly I need it. I don't reach out often but I just feel this connection with you and am so glad that I found your blog!

Hope to hear back,


Charlotte UK said...

Hey Carrie,

When I come in November, promise we'll go to the Farmers Market together. I have a wonderful line in patter when faced with similar situations. The girls sometimes just roll their eyes and walk away when I start on the whole "fat is good" diatribe.

Poor Alexandria, imagine a whole group of parents of ed children going round the Farmers' Market correcting "low cal is good" assumptions...........


Carrie Arnold said...

Charlotte, I don't actually live in Alexandria anymore. I live in another area of Virginia now, so harassing the Alexandria Farmer's Market won't get you very far! ;)

Anonymous said...

I agree, I hate the obsession with food/calories/weight and especially fat. But there is hope! I shop at a farmers' market every week. There is a dairy farmer who sells all types of milk (i.e. whole, or what I call "real" milk, plus low fat and skim) and also butter, cheese and yogurt. All of the cheese and yogurt is whole. Recently a woman asked him (yes, it is typically women who ask these things, in my experience) how many calories were in the yogurt. I wanted to kiss him when he said "as many as I can get in there", and went on to explain that this was European style pourable yogurt which is eaten regularly by many people in other countries and how fat from grass-fed cows is actually beneficial.

I would think she made that statement to you because our culture as a whole is obsessed with such things, and also she was probably asked those questions a zillion times. When someone tells me such things, I try to find a polite way to let them know I don't care.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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