It’s a good feeling to be considered an inspiration to people when it comes to weight loss; in fact, Weight Watchers has a campaign that’s currently trying to harness the power of its successful “losers” as inspiration for friends, family and strangers. When I think of inspiration in this sense, I’m thinking in a positive way. But I fear that sometimes I’m being perceived as a negative influence to others.
Not necessarily through things I’ve done or said to anyone; sometimes it feels like people are uneasy talking about food and weight issues around me. I imagine it’s how your dentist might feel if she sees you in the grocery checkout line with sugary treats, and your hello to her is quickly followed with a defense of your purchase order. I’ve been at gatherings with people who want to denounce a heavy food in front of me, or explain why they’ve chosen to eat it. I’ve heard many reasons why a 3 p.m. snack should be a tasty, carb-laden affair, and not a cup of carrots and a mozzarella stick. (On the carrots and cheese, although this is one of my go-to snacks, trust that sometimes I’m going for the chocolate or the potato chips, with no guilt.)
Let me say this clearly: I am not judging anyone when it comes to eating and weight loss. Period. I am happy to share advice when someone asks, or when I feel a question lingering in the air without being said. Or, to mention alternative eating choices for the future when I know someone is in a lesser-of-two-evils decision-making mode. On the other side of the coin, I am also happy to offer emotional support if someone wants to vent–and do that with food. This goes for people who are trying to lose weight, and people who aren’t.
I know food is a hot-button issue, having been in an unhealthy relationship with it for years. I know that, even for people who want to lose weight, people who have lost weight, and people who are currently in the process of losing weight, that many different arguments and justifications went into achieving their “before weight” as a destination, and that those internal conversations are hard to break from. I know that sometimes eating is an auto-pilot kind of thing when something goes wrong. I know that, even if you are aware that you’re eating out of stress, boredom or upset that sometimes the contentment that comes from going down that path (even if it’s temporary) is just what the doctor ordered.
Many times, food is about much more than eating and nourishment. Because of that, I never intend to judge anyone on their feelings and actions when it comes to food. I am not a double-agent for the diet police. And, more importantly, if you are someone trying to lose weight, but you find yourself struggling with food choices for different reasons, you are not a criminal or food offender. A cops and robbers mentality when it comes to weight loss will never result in a win-win situation.