Dark Doors

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Food Bullies

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that every time I return to the mothership – *ahem* – I mean, Canada, some sort of theme pops up. A repeated occurrence. A leitmotif, if I’m using that term correctly.

Several years ago, it was Tim Horton’s: I had to go to Tim Horton’s every day to have a coffee with cream. Proper cream. Not milk. Cream. One year, I noticed a subtle thread of misogynistic behaviour in every Canadian I encountered. Which I found extremely surprising, because I had not thought of my old stomping grounds as possessing an unusual amount – subtle or otherwise – of misogynistic tendencies. This led to an impromptu telling-off of my own father for daring to condescend to me… only took me 38 years to stand up for myself.

This year, the repeated motif is food. Dinner, to be exact. It has gotten to the point where the mere utterance of this word causes me to break into a cold sweat, and my stomach clenches with anxiety. I have had more dinner invites this past week than in my lifetime… and that is far too many for me to deal with comfortably.

For two reasons. One: I am attempting, through portion control and increased exercise, to lose weight. It is really not easy to do this when eating at someone’s house, or in a restaurant. “Oh go on, finish those potatoes for me!” Or, “oh go on, have some dessert with me, I’ll feel like a greedy pig otherwise!” I feel like I’m being followed around by Mrs Doyle all the time: go on, go on, go on, go on, go on… you get what I mean.

The second reason is in two parts; my son and I are fussy eaters, though for different reasons. Part one of two: I have allergies to several different types of food, and that they can pop up at the worst – and unexpected – times. I think I’ve narrowed it down, but I’m still waiting for that next weird food combo to pop up and blow up my face. (My allergic reaction, for those who are interested, is relegated solely to my face, readjusting my features to look like Miss Piggy BEFORE WeightWatchers. And it itches. And yes, I’ve seen an allergist, and they found nothing wrong with me.) Plus, too many unusual foods can wreak havoc with my gallbladder-less gastrointestinal tract, leaving me in some measure of discomfort for several days.

Part two of two: My son is 10, and not the most adventurous of eaters. Which is fine, because I know it won’t last. It didn’t with me, so if I back off and let him get on with it, he will find his own food-path.

However, by accepting so many dinner invitations, I am only opening our eating habits up to minute scrutiny and – in some cases – criticism. I know people mean well (go on, go on, go on, go on…), but it is not helping. Either me or my son.

I do not like confrontation for any reason, but having to tell people off for pressuring my child into eating something we both know that he will not like (carrot coriander sandwich, white albacore on white and rye bread, French-style blancmange…) is quickly becoming my best skill.

However, my patience is beginning to run thin. It is getting to the point where I will just snap and start telling everyone to just back the fuck off, and leave the kid to enjoy the food that he does like.

Or stop meeting people for dinner. That might be the most pleasant plan of action, for I won’t have to offend anyone by telling them off for being a food bully. And I can keep my friends for a bit longer. (And maybe continue to lose some weight.)


  1. Oh sooo agree. Had the same last year when I was doing my weight loss. I was very strict about what I eat. I even made my own dinner (salad) at someone’s house as I couldn’t eat what they’re cooked. Discovered that most of it is jealously that you have taken control of what you eat. Lost a few friends, but hey – they weren’t proper friends if they weren’t supporting me. As for Connor – agree – he’ll find his own path and as long as what he eats is OK then there’s not a problem. Anyone with kids will understand that plain & simple is the answer – think I’d baulk at carrot coriander sandwich

    • Thanks, June. I really appreciate your support. Haven’t gone so far as to make my own dinner at someone’s house (except at my mom’s), but I am turning down dinner invites and suggesting different activities instead, something fun, rather than something fraught with anxiety. Breaking bread with people is a huge thing for me, because I have never enjoyed eating in front of people… so if I agree to meet you for lunch or dinner, then you know that I trust and respect you. 😉

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