Looks are deceiving. People look at me and assume different things about my habits and lifestyle. I’ve discovered people’s assumptions as they make interesting comments after learning that I’m a dietitian, peering into my shopping basket, or assessing my dinner order. I’m not sure why they feel so comfortable openly remarking on things that I consider very personal, but that’s another post!
Here are some of the many comments that amuse, amaze, or annoy me:
- You’re a dietitian, so you must not eat dessert. I feel guilty for eating this (fill in the blank) in front of you.
- You’re so lean. You must work out a lot and watch what you eat.
- Wow! Are you really going to eat all of that? You must be REALLY hungry. There goes your figure.
- Why are you eating? We’re going to have lunch in a few hours.
- You must not like food very much. I love food, that’s why I’m overweight.
- You’re so disciplined to eat like you do.
- BLAH BLAH BLAH
Ok, so the last one clearly is just my clear exasperation with all of this silliness!
Today I want to clear things up, at least about myself, not necessarily about other dietitians, women my size, or women with similar lifestyles.
I, Michaela Ballmann:
- eat dessert. I love a REALLY good pastry, piece of chocolate, or (as I declared in a previous post) Berthillon ice cream. I do not deprive myself of yummy food. Sure, I’m more picky about what dessert I eat, but believe me: I eat it!
- used to work out like a fiend, obsess about exercise, and all that jazz. Now, I do movement that I enjoy in amounts that make me feel good. No, I don’t exercise 7 days a week. Yes, sometimes I just walk. As far as “watching what I eat”, it is possible (though more challenging) to have all the knowledge from two degrees in nutrition and daily work in the field and not fall into a restrictive diet mentality. If you observe my plate, you may think I’m watching my weight, but I’m really just eating foods that I like and that make me feel good. There’s no mac n’ cheese because I truly don’t like it or the way it makes me feel. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had it in over 10 years and honestly don’t miss it or even think about it. The only thing I’m watching is my food go into my mouth.
- eat a lot. To be honest, I can be quite self-conscious about how much I eat. Thinking back, I have always been able to eat a large quantity of food and can recall wide-eyed looks as well as “interesting” conversations where I felt the need to defend my appetite and intake. When eating with others, sometimes I am hungry afterwards because everyone finished eating so quickly and I don’t really enjoy eating by myself for a whole 15+ more minutes to finish.
- eat when I’m hungry. It’s funny to me when someone will assume that all of our bodies function the same—that just because they aren’t hungry, or because they can’t eat a late breakfast and still be hungry in time for noontime lunch means that I shouldn’t be hungry or eating. I’m listening to my body, so all is well. Deep breaths!
- love food. I don’t know where this idea came from that people who are “not fat” don’t like food or must be repressing cravings…or whatever. The French love food more than most people. I consider myself French (ask my husband, he knows I’m serious about this!) and love food too. I look forward to mealtime. I close my eyes to focus my attention on the tastes and sensations. I get giddy thinking about going out for a special meal or treat.
- don’t do discipline. I don’t like the connotation of the word. It seems unnatural and implies that if I lost all control and willpower, I would eat an entirely different way. It’s just not true. I eat veggies (and lots of them) because I have a vegetable fetish. Yes, I can eat four heads of broccoli in one sitting. Don’t judge me. I am a broccoli aficionado. I have raw tofu for breakfast. No, it’s not diet food. I actually crave tofu. On and on we could go, but my eating, though quirky, is based on intuition and experience.
Whew! I want this to be more than a rant. I want you to understand a little more about me that you can’t from mere observation and assumption. I want you to know that it’s possible to reach a place where exercise is enjoyable and satisfying, where relaxed food decisions stem from your innate preferences, and where food is a serene pleasure.
Have you been on the receiving or giving end of these types of assumptions? What do you wish people knew about the real you?