Confessions Of A Diet Saboteur

Because wanting your friend to eat half of a Victoria Sponge as a snack is an endearing quality, right?

Rory-DCS

by Emma Gannon |

Here’s a fun little question for you: what’s the one thing worse than being on diet? Hanging out with a friend or even worse, a group of friends that are on a diet.

I feel the same amount of disappointment every time a friend turns down a hearty meal in favour of 'just a starter-size salad for me, thanks' as I would were she to tell me she wasn’t going to drink any booze at my (hypothetical) wedding. Just JOIN IN, PLEASE, my inner child tantrums silently every time. Maybe it is slightly selfish, but I don’t like being made to feel guilty for wanting to unwind. And by unwind I mean eat lots of things that Dr Christian would tut at.

Let me break this down. I have a friend (let’s call her Fiona, for that is not her name), and she diets, a lot. I have lots of other friends who have a very healthy lifestyle and solid exercise routine but would never push it on to me – they know it’s their choice, not mine and they live and let live. But when Fiona got hooked on dieting, it almost sabotaged our relationship. It was a feeling similar to when you pass-by a street-pastor outside the tube stations who tries to covert you in to hardcore Christianity as you walk past with a Sainsbury’s bag trying to avoid eye contact. It’s a pointless exercise for both parties. Nat gonna happen.

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There were the times when we’ll go for lunch and the whole conversation will be about a) food b) how many calories were in the food and c) how she planned to exercise off her (tiny) meal afterwards. Every time it made me want to stab my salad fork in my eye (and hers).

Should I be making a smoothie every night with 14 different pieces of fruit? Should I be calorie-counting? Should I have ordered that dessert?

Maybe I sound like the bad guy here, but the truth is, it's made me miserable. I feel insecure about wanting to eat what I like around her. Should I be making a smoothie every night with 14 different pieces of fruit? Should I be calorie-counting? Should I have ordered that dessert? And now she's started shedding the pounds, (not a concerning amount, but enough to notice) there's the whole weight loss thing to contend with - mainly because all she wants to talk about is her figure. Which I wouldn’t mind – in fact I wanted to celebrate with her, but she just wants to have the same negative conversation around food and the same conversations about recipes, supplements, health websites, that would go on for hours. And it's boring.

Now I'm starting to feel angry. It’s not fair to be made to feel like you can’t eat what you want without getting a concerned look (as if to say 'poor you, putting that into your body)'. It's not like I'm putting a tub of Ben & Jerry's in the microwave every night and downing it. It’s not a lack of education. I know that hamster food is a good snack and crisps are a bad snack. I know that I could have slim-line tonic instead. The point is, everyone has choices, and mine are not to focus on dieting right now.

As a diet saboteur, my friend has probably been told to avoid someone like me at all costs.

There are countless threads on My Fitness Pal messaging boards with the topics 'How To Avoid A Diet Saboteur' - and maybe that's me. I do try and sway my friends from dieting. But hear me out, social eating occasions can be really drab when you are surrounded by a bunch of dieters. Especially if those dieters are your mates who you used to down Snakebites with at university not all that long ago. Nothing makes you feel more alone than being the only one not counting calories on the back of a napkin.

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As a diet saboteur, my friend has probably been told to avoid someone like me at all costs - but what if you are just someone’s mate, with good intentions, who genuinely finds it hard to let your friends stay on the straight and narrow? I like to think of it as being more the little devil on the shoulder waving a cupcake than someone with deep emotional issues around dieting. Ever heard over dinner 'oh come on, you look so great, you can definitely have one little piece!' or 'oh go on, you only live one. Have a little bite!'? Those might be the strategic words of a diet saboteur. But they're also the words of someone who just wants a friend to relax, have fun, live a little. And what’s wrong with that?

It’s becoming difficult to host social gatherings for people who only drink Gwyneth green smoothies, or only eat rocket salad.

I wouldn’t go so far to say that I am a 'feeder,' It’s just that I would rather that we ALL went for it in a joint effort when presented with a delicious menu, rather than just me. It’s becoming difficult to host social gatherings for people who only drink Gwyneth green smoothies, or only eat rocket salad, or try to hide their ‘concerned face’ at you while you sip on your third Diet Coke to wash down all your beige carbohydrates. I know it’s not good for me. But it’s the weekend. LET ME.

I don't think there's some deep psychological reason why I'm so anti Fiona's dieting efforts. I'm not trying to take control, or have a battle of the bodies, or win or lose. It’s probably as simple as just wanting some company when the weekend rolls round to gorge, relax, not to be shunned for occasionally pigging out. Friends are for eating with. I definitely don’t do it to 'keep my friends fat' but yes, I probably do do it in order to feel like I’m not alone. Going solo on an entire cheeseboard on a Friday night just isn't fun. Same with ice cream. And a family bag of Maltesers.

Follow Emma on Twitter @GirlLostInCity

Picture: Rory DCS

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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