So many have given excellent tips on the issue of eating out in public, as well as eating IN, here’s my 2 cents to add (more like $2, because it’s a LONG post!):
EATING IN PUBLIC
I used to be extremely self-conscious about how other people would react, or how my weighing would affect their perception of me. Even though I was 110% convinced this was right for me, admitting it to a civilian (i.e. “normal-eater”) was a huge fear.
My sponsor was very helpful; she told me that I didn’t need to worry about this yet. Instead, if after a year of abstinence I still felt that way, then we’d work on it. But for the moment, I didn’t have to worry about it. So I never took my scale out in public for the first six months! If I knew I was going to be out, I would take all my food with me no matter where I was going (I still do that today, but only in case there’s nothing there for me – it’s backup). To explain, I’d just say I had some issues with food (which is vague: could be allergies, anything) and I was “safer” eating my own food. When people invited me for dinner, I’d always eat my own and say it was about the social interaction anyway, not about the food. Because I did it consistently, with everyone and at every restaurant, people weren’t offended. In my church in America, it actually became a bit of a joke: invite Susanne, she’s the cheapest and least complicated dinner guest you’ll ever have!
Now, with a little over 10 months of abstinence, I have no problem taking my scale anywhere. That just happened naturally, I didn’t work on it. It happened while I was still in the States, where people had known me when I was eating and kept commenting on the positive changes in me – that really encouraged me to become more open about what I was doing. Now, in a new community, I simply introduced myself that way and it’s never been a question. People ask why, and I explain that I am in recovery from an eating disorder. Yes! Amazingly, my shame has disappeared, and my scale has turned from a sign of my pathetic weakness (which was how I saw it at first) into my badge of honor.
To be fair, the times I take my own food and eat it FAR outweigh the times I trust someone else enough to eat their food. But there are those who, when they invite me, will look at my Greysheet and together we’ll figure out what they can make for me. And then I’m there with my scale, in the kitchen, with them. This gives them the opportunity to feel like they’re really serving me, and even though it’s not exactly convenient for me, I find that it draws me closer to these friends. Plus, freshly cooked food is often better than my backup.
Excellent suggestion from a Greysheeter – to talk a little about eating in. I got abstinent in a situation where I shared a fridge, but nothing else, with a roommate. Her foods were her foods, and I never even looked at them. My fresh veggies took over the fridge, and what she had really didn’t look appealing – the fact that she weighed about 350 lbs. also helped me not want any of what she was eating. Occasionally I’d see the empty boxes of things she’d eaten and feel very sorry for her, but I wasn’t confident enough to even mention to her what I was doing. I know I’d have bitten someone’s head off for even suggesting I had an eating problem when I was still active.
So her foods weren’t an option. And that’s the way I kept things: I don’t see other people’s food as mine. I haven’t lived on my own since I got abstinent, so I’ve always had to share a fridge. Now, I live with three other girls and we share a MINI fridge. They very graciously emptied an entire shelf only for me, and even so, half my vegetables hang on the outside of the backdoor in a plastic bag (don’t ask me what I’m going to do in summer, I don’t know).
Someone mentioned having to work around a scale that switches off after a certain time. I started with a scale like that, and I found it extremely irritating, so I bought a scale that operates on regular AA batteries (a huge positive, for me, because they’re available everywhere – unlike those annoying button ones) and doesn’t switch off unless I tell it to. Expensive, but oh so worth it; and exact, it weighs up to 0.05 of an ounce. That’s what I need.
I eat alone most of the time. I don’t listen to music or the radio as I prepare my food. There’s a TV show in the States, called Monk, and I’m totally like that when I prepare my food. I have to have *my* knife and *my* plates, and if I don’t get my fork and spoon I’m not happy. I can’t say I experience the preparation of food as a spiritual thing, as others say they do, for me it’s just something I concentrate on and want to get done
properly so I can eat. I go to the bathroom every time before I eat. Then I sit down and don’t get back up until I’m done – whether that’s eating with others or alone. I don’t particularly like eating with others, because it means I’ll have to interact with them, so most of the time I do eat alone. My breakfast is the best meal of all, and it’s one I almost always get to enjoy alone.
OK, can’t really think of anything else… hope this was helpful… most importantly, whatever it takes, eat abstinently and the rest will come together.