Jenna

Significant Others and The Road to Acceptance

My boyfriend. My handsome, wonderful, perfect in so many ways boyfriend. Is on a diet. Not that he CALLS it a diet. However, I, Queen of Recovering Diets that I am, know better. My boyfriend is on the very slim side, he is a bit on the taller side of normal but would be considered quite thin if we look at his weight. I know that I weigh more than him. I was at his weight for about 10 minutes.

After the holidays BF started revving up his strength training and exercise at home and I am all for it! Good for you feeling better, getting stronger and all that. With it though, he started reading this “Men’s exercise book” which says, “cut down on carbs.” When I asked him how the heck he was going to accomplish that as a vegetarian he said he would eat more eggs and cheese and milk. When told him that I thought he weighs little as it his response was, “It’s not about weight it’s about fat.” So… fat… is bad? Is this another one of those, “Jeez I am 20 pounds I am SO fat (grabs molecule of skin), look at all this FAT” while I stare on in incredulity with my ice cream cone and elastic skirt. Really? Darling is that what this is?

Less whole grains, less rice, less potatoes, less bread more eggs, more cheese more milk. Hmm…okay. How that sounds like a healthy switch is totally beyond me…

When I asked him, “As you know honey I have been working hard and blogging about size acceptance and body acceptance and that I have given up dieting… how do you rectify supporting me in this if you are trying to ‘lose fat’?” His reply? “Well, men’s and women’s bodies are different.”

Wow. Wow I mean, there is SO MUCH here, right?

It is really hard for me not to try to sabotage this. I give him articles, we talk about body acceptance we talk about dieting but he is, “not on a diet”. He is just “watching his carbs” he is just “watching what he eats it isn’t a diet.” When you refuse the food I cooked with my own hands to nourish you, it’s a diet.  When you don’t want to go out cause of the carbs, it’s a diet. When I am changing how I cook to accommodate you HONEY IT’S A DIET. And… they don’t work! It’s like I am more intellectually offended more than anything else, like what I blogged about earlier? You talk and talk and talk and people nod their heads but really it’s as if they are not physically capable of hearing you.

I am offended that he would read some loser book (muscle manwich whatever BLERGGG!!) which is just like ALL THE OTHERS and take that over the piles of scientifically rigorous data that I have been extolling for months about diet, body types, exorcize and health.  Like, really? Do you think I am not smart enough? Do you think maybe there is too much womanly fat betwixt my ears? Do you think I am kidding myself?!?!

I haven’t confronted him on all this cause it’s his body, you know? I do not want to dictate peopl’s choices about their bodies…I just wished that while he can accept my body he could accept his own cause I think it’s a sex machine built for my pleasure and I love him as he is. I wish that he would at least internalize some of the data I have shared with him so I do not feel like I’ve been talking to a wall these past few months. I wish I did not now assume  that he is with me but he sees past the fat…. I know I should not take it personal… but you bet I do.

Also, I am watching him restrict, then binge and eat more than he normally does. In short becoming the classic case of a cycling dieter and how that messes up our metabolism and our body cues. From an objective perspectiveit is interesting watching him do what all those scientists say happen to dieters!

UGHHHH I am so conflicted about this. There is so much here I need to tease out and consider but for now I just wanted to share with you what I am struggling with right now.

And honey? If you read this don’t get mad I love you… I just need to get this off my chest with the people on my team.

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  • Amy

    I think you need to tell him that you can’t participate. You love him, and you respect his right to make his own choices, but this is a choice you can’t participate in. You will be cooking the food you have always cooked, and if he wants to eat something else, that’s fine, but he can’t make disparaging comments about your food. You will continue to socialize and go out just as you always have, and if he doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t have to, but he can’t tell you that you shouldn’t. You don’t want to hear about how many carbs are in things or what anyone’s body looks like or his views on body fat. He can believe those things all he wants, but he needs to find someone else to talk about them with. The two of you and your differing views can coexist, but you need to take this off the table as a topic for discussion and debate.

  • Notblueatall

    Wow! I wish I had some advice, but I know if it were me and my guy? Well, there’d be some heavy discussions and maybe some yelling and I’d probably cry and make him feel like shit and nobody wants that. Ha-ha! While I agree that men and women HAVE different bodies, in the nutrition is nutrition and we all generally operate the same. I suppose you could simply back off and let him fail on his own, but I find it completely rude/disrespectful that he’s refused your cooking! That is an offense in my book. Hope to hear how this works out for you. *hugs*

  • Polyphemus

    Well, It’s his body, and he can do what he wants. If he wants to go on a diet, or make a lifestyle change, he can go for it, but you don’t have to do anything with it. If he doesn’t think what you cook fits into his plan, he can cook for himself. I’d also suggest not sabotaging him, because that’d be sure to breed some major resentment.

  • Alexie

    Not going out because there might be carbs? Refusing to eat home cooked meals because there might be carbs? That’s not a diet – that’s a developing eating disorder. The only good thing is, eating like that is very hard to sustain for very long.

    But put your foot down. Refusing to eat your home cooked food isn’t on. Or you could go the other way, and pile on the eggs. He’ll be begging for some toast before you know it.

  • http://fatfu.wordpress.com Meowser

    You can’t do low carb as a vegetarian. Not for very long, anyway. Eventually you will get sick to death of eggs and cheese. It’s hard enough doing low carb if you are a carnivore without going bonkers from boredom.

    Look, there are people with legitimate medical reasons to limit carb intake (diabetes, hypoglycemia, PCOS, seizures), but most of them don’t do it without some kind of professional input. And even those folks don’t avoid restaurants entirely because they’re terrified of carbs! (Although they might be more likely to frequent some types of establishments than others.) If he’s bingeing, that’s a very bad sign. I hope he will at least work with a therapist and/or RD who can help him meet his goals more constructively.

    Also, let HIM cook (at least for himself) if he wants his food just so, assuming he is capable of learning how to do it.

  • http://www.nicholasperkins.com/blog/ Nicholas Perkins

    As someone who is trying to move towards intuitive eating, I don’t like hearing all this talk of “putting your foot down” as someone else has suggested.

    You shouldn’t have to eat whatever someone else tells you. You should have the option to have as little or as much of one thing or another as you wish to. And no one should tell you what you can or cannot eat.

    In the case of your boyfriend, if he wants to not eat carbs then that is his choice whether you agree with it or not. Just like no one can force you to eat carbs, or eat vegetarian, or whatever.

    You can talk to him about it and say to him that from whatever reasearch you have done that it doesn’t seem like a healthy thing to do, but that it is his call. At the end of the day it is his body and what does (or doesn’t) go into it is his choice, no one elses.

    The last thing anyone should do is demand that you eat whatever is put in front of you. There are thoughts that this sort of action used on children is a starting point for some eating disorders.

  • http://www.axisoffat.com/ Jenna

    Nick, yes I would not make him eat anything and basicaly after giving him some info have backed off. For me its worry (to see him exhibit diet behavior which to me is illness) and also put off that he has not seemed to internalize one iota of what Ive been going through and learning but rather is taking the advice of some lame ass book! THAT probably gets me more than anything… my intellectual pride. whine

  • Anonymous

    If his goal is to lose weight/fat, what he is doing is definitely a diet.

    If his goal is to gain muscle and become stronger, he does in fact need to eat substantially more protein than the average person would have to eat. I am also vegetarian, and am currently on a strength training program to gain more muscle, and I did have to tweek what I ate in order to have daily 100g protein instead of daily 50g protein. My eating plan does not resemble a traditional “diet” and I am actually eating much more now than I was before. And I am seeing fantastic results, and becoming stronger everyday (and I am still an inbetweenie : p).

    From what you are describing it definitely sounds like your boyfriend IS on a diet, and I can see where you would be uncomfortable with that. But I just want to give you the perspective that sometimes you do have to watch what you eat, maybe count calories and macronutrients, and eat certain things in order to achieve your athletic goals. I don’t think that is considered a diet in the least, at least based on my experiences. When I was dieting I hated my body and felt like a failure each time I eat; now that I’m lifting weights and eating to “feed my muscles” it’s a completely different experience.

    I wish you luck with this experience, and hope your boyfriend stays healthy.

  • Anonymous

    If his goal is to lose weight/fat, what he is doing is definitely a diet.

    If his goal is to gain muscle and become stronger, he does in fact need to eat substantially more protein than the average person would have to eat. I am also vegetarian, and am currently on a strength training program to gain more muscle, and I did have to tweek what I ate in order to have daily 100g protein instead of daily 50g protein. My eating plan does not resemble a traditional “diet” and I am actually eating much more now than I was before. And I am seeing fantastic results, and becoming stronger everyday (and I am still an inbetweenie : p).

    From what you are describing it definitely sounds like your boyfriend IS on a diet, and I can see where you would be uncomfortable with that. But I just want to give you the perspective that sometimes you do have to watch what you eat, maybe count calories and macronutrients, and eat certain things in order to achieve your athletic goals. I don’t think that is considered a diet in the least, at least based on my experiences. When I was dieting I hated my body and felt like a failure each time I eat; now that I’m lifting weights and eating to “feed my muscles” it’s a completely different experience.

    I wish you luck with this experience, and hope your boyfriend stays healthy.

  • Alexie

    I get what you’re saying, but there’s another issue here. We don’t live in isolation. As soon as you refuse to eat someone else’s cooking, you’re imposing your way of life on them. Eating together is about more than the food itself. It’s a social/bonding ritual of huge importance. As soon as one person starts being fussy about what they will and won’t eat, or worse, starts going off and eating by themselves, that important ritual of life starts to get broken.

    I don’t think anyone should stand over anyone else insisting they eat things they hate (I won’t eat avocadoes to be polite), but nor should someone’s restrictive diet begin to impose itself on the people around that person.

    The home cooked meal is priceless and its erosion is one of the worst things that’s happened to us.

  • Polyphemus

    But aren’t you imposing your way of life on them by insisting they eat your home cooked meal? That knife cuts both ways.

  • Clodagh

    You can’t be serious? You would be FILTHY if he told you that you shouldn’t eat cupcakes because the sugar will kill you, absolutely furious. Even with the scientific evidence that supports such a view.

    He is a grown man and doesn’t need you playing mum, treating him like a complete numpty. I can’t believe you think it’s ok to police his food choices, but not the other way around. I wonder how he’d feel if he read this blog. You telling the world what a moron he is for making informed choices about his own diet.

  • Alexie

    It depends on the specific situation. My partner and I cook our own meals and eat together. If he wants a night off to go and do something, or he wants to try something new, or he doesn’t want to eat something, then we negotiate. Nobody wants to be cooking stuff that somebody else won’t eat.

    But once you start imposing special dietary restrictions on people around you, not for medical reasons, but because you’re getting into a food fad, that’s different. I spent Christmas Day with a family where the adult daughter is vegetarian, so her mother had to cook something special. Fair enough. But her partner only eats junk food and wouldn’t touch the home made roast. So mum had to go out and buy a box of radioactive chicken pieces and cook those specially. Three separate meals on the one table. Fuck that!

  • Rose

    Right at the bottom of this post, there’s a link to a related article about food policing. Perhaps it’s worth reading, because it seems as though you’re interested in doing just that.

    From what I’ve seen while in the FA movement, there’s an almost perfect consensus that body/food-policing (especially under the pretence of concern for someone’s health) is completely unacceptable. I don’t see how this situation is an exception.

  • http://www.axisoffat.com/ Jenna

    wow… anger much? Please read my post again. I am not playing Mom, I am not policing his choices. I will not repeat myself just because you are emotionally triggered and reacting more to your own story than to mine. You assume we do not disagree or discuss like equally rational human beings. Jeez take a chill pill.

  • http://www.axisoffat.com/ Jenna

    Seriously? What about this sentence that I wrote above: “I haven’t confronted him on all this cause it’s his body, you know? I do not want to dictate peopl’s choices about their bodies…” did you NOT read?

    You got this so totally wrong I dont have time to convince you of otherwise.

  • http://randomette.blogspot.com Erin Marie

    I think what Jenna is saying that the difficulty she is facing lies in the fact that she disagrees with his choices but respects his decisions about his body enough to not say anything. Which, let’s be honest, is a difficult situation no matter what it’s about – like a friend who is going out with a person you don’t like. You feel like you should say something, because you worry about what is best for them, but you also respect their ability to make their own decisions.

    I certainly don’t think that she is calling her partner a moron, or playing mum or ‘treating him like a numpty’ (which I’m actually not sure of the meaning of, but assume it’s not a compliment). It might pay to remember that Jenna (like all of us on here) is reflecting on her experience of fat acceptance, and that this may differ from person to person.

  • Katrina

    Hmm, my dad’s policy was always “live and let live” though how this can apply within a committed relationship is something that I am still trying to learn. I agree with a previous comment that sabotage is not the way to go (don’t risk what seems to me like a wonderful relationship) and also completely understand your struggle between not wanting to police his eating behaviours, and not wanting to sit back and watch him engage in (what you believe to be) harmful behaviours.

    There is merit to his argument that men and women have different bodies. There is no way to deny the fact that women are able to bear children while men are not, which is the justification for women needing to have more body fat than men.

    But consider your partner’s mental wellbeing for a moment. Perhaps he is trying to lose fat in an attempt to enhance his mental health. Perhaps he feels like there are certain things he can’t do because he is fat. As some character from The Breakfast Club (can’t remember their name) said: (and this is heavily paraphrased) “There are two types of fat people. People who were born to be fat who are fat, and people who were born to be thin then became fat”. Now you might not agree with this (perhaps, like me, you have problems accepting the notions of predeterminism and fate) but if you accept the logic of that statement, then maybe your partner identifies as a “non-fat” who “became fat” and now wants to go back to his true self.

    I have similar problems with my partner regarding weight, fat and self-acceptance but we are supportive of each other’s differing viewpoints because we know that weight is not only a physical health concept, but a mental health concept as well. When I told my boyfriend I was going to lose weight he said “I don’t think you need to, but if that’s what you really want to do I will support you”. He said the same thing about my idea to dye my hair blue, get a tongue piercing, or get my genitals pierced (but then he later retracted it about the genital piercing, fair enough, I wasn’t totally keen on the idea myself but just wanted to see what kind of limit his tolerance could stretch to).

    I think it’s best to support your partner in what he believes is the best path for him to follow because the journey to body acceptance is different for everyone.

  • Emily

    I have struggled with the same issues with my husband. Every other week he decides he’s going to avoid carbs. It’s particularly exhausting because it’s so inconsistent, and I don’t know from one day to the next whether he’s going to be “eating healthy” or taking me out for cheeseburgers. Fortunately for me, we have different schedules and usually cook our own individual meals, so I don’t have to worry as much about accommodating him. What has helped me is realizing that the human body can survive–and even thrive–on many different kinds of diets, and even though his isn’t a diet I would choose, I do my best to be positive about it and encourage him to do whatever makes him feel his best.

  • http://twitter.com/fly401 Vanessa Love

    It is official. Your boyfriend is my husband. THIS happens to me daily. Exactly the same thing. Hes tall and into weight training and cuts things out and does these crazy eating habits because he read it on the internet and it has to be the answer, but it isn’t a diet, because he isn’t doing it to lose weight.. just the love handles.

  • Elizabeththewellread

    I am fat as hell and I have a slim (and dreeeeamy!) boyfriend. When he starts bitching about the approximately four superfluous ounces on his abdomen and then begins eating like a sorority girl, I say, “Darlingest, if your clothes don’t feel good or you don’t feel good, I will help you however I can. But you look really, really good to me. You can’t possibly think you’re anything less than gorgeous. That’s barely a sandwich, and even if you gained a whole lot of weight you’d still be gorgeous. Please don’t worry, unless you don’t feel good.” He forgets all about those four ounces in about two days.

  • Rocketreplay

    Carbs are actually really, REALLY bad for you. People who don’t eat carbs aren’t on a “diet”, they’re just healthy people. You should let him be healthy if he wants, he doesn’t have to eat shit food just because you cooked it for him or the local restaurant doesn’t serve real, healthy food.

    Then again he’s a vegetarian so it’s not like he actually knows anything about being healthy so whatever I guess.

  • http://www.nicholasperkins.com/blog/ Nicholas Perkins

    Sorry I can’t let this stand without comment. How on earth are carbs bad for you? Carbs make up a part of a balanced diet. Everyone needs to eat fat, protien and carbs to get all the nutrients they need.

    I don’t know who you are but please don’t go around spreading misinformation.

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