Kate at Shapely Prose and Good with Cheese both have interesting posts today about “accomplice eating,” or the inability to eat food just because you want it unless somebody else eats it with you. It’s a normalizing behavior. You can justify feeding yourself what you crave but only so long as somebody else (and preferably somebody thinner) will eat with you. Because if you eat it by yourself, it feels like cheating or sneaking or lying to your boss about an illness so you can sit at home locked in your room doing drugs all day. But if you eat with a friend, that’s like cutting class to smoke a cigarette or having sex in a department store fitting room. Together, eating becomes illicit and exciting, while alone it’s just pitiful and slovenly and sad.
Or at least that’s how it worked for me.
And being on Weight Watchers made it even worse. I was already so limited in what and when and how much I could eat that when my husband, who is thin and very much a free spirit when it comes to eating actual meals, would remark that he wasn’t particularly hungry for dinner, or just wanted some soup from a can, I would nearly have a nervous breakdown. I would want to shake him and yell, “Don’t you know that I haven’t eaten anything since lunch? How can you not eat when I need you to eat so I can eat!” And it wasn’t a long leap from “How can you not eat when I need you to eat so I can eat” to “You clearly don’t love me or else you would let me have dinner!” He would offer to cook for me, or to order anything I wanted, or go to the store to buy whatever I might feel like eating but what he didn’t understand was that I didn’t need food. We had food. What I needed was for somebody else to eat dinner because eating alone was just not okay. Eating alone meant that I was eating when I shouldn’t be eating. I had become so removed from what my body actually wanted, so dependent on points and food journals that I couldn’t trust myself to eat without a guide.
Taking my husband’s appetite personally? That’s just oozing with crazy. It’s still a challenge, but it’s getting easier.