Somebody’s Watching Me

I rarely tell anyone (other than hubby and all of you, of course) that I am “dieting.”  I don’t want to get into discussions or drama, or have them assessing my pant size, or worry that they are judging everything I put into my mouth… or don’t put into my mouth.  So it was quite a change for me recently to spend several days eating in the company of someone who clearly was paying attention!

My sister-in-law is one of the few people in my real life who knows about and reads my blog.  (I told her about it in the early days when I turned to her for blogging advice.)  Having been to the spa together several times, she has seen me naked and at my uncoordinated worst.  (Totally unrelated!)  And now, thanks to my blog and some conversations that it prompted, she knows more about my eating “issues” than I had ever intended a family member to know!

This past weekend hubby and I stayed overnight at her (and my brother’s) house.  We arrived at dinner time and SIL had planned ahead to make something for us.  I was looking forward to it; she is a great cook.   What I did not expect, was for her to so carefully consider what I might want.  She wrote in advance of our visit:  “I’m going to make something appropriate for Karen. I’m thinking spa type food. Yum. Yum.”

Photo by SIL, posted on her blog

And yummy was right!  The all-homemade menu was:  black bean soup, spicy shrimp, cucumber salad, and the most delicious chunky salsa.  Almost all the vegetables were from her own garden.  She also made rice for my brother who eats no veggies, telling me, “That’s not for you.”  I guess she has been following my blog more closely than I thought! 

Saturday morning, our hosts took us on a great walk to a breakfast place, which I approached with some trepidation since I had intended to at least start my day out on plan.  (I even packed my own high fiber cereal!)  SIL was still thinking of me and pointed out a menu item she thought would fit the bill.  I soooo wanted pancakes instead, but she was right and I went with her suggestion and had a great plate of eggs with beans and peppers.  And so much water (challenge goal number 3) that I walked very quickly back to the house, if you catch my meaning.    

Later that evening, after I had overindulged at a day-long food-filled social event, I finally was feeling hunger again.  Since my brother and SIL had recently moved to a new house I had no idea where the food was hiding.  I asked for crackers or cereal or something.  Of course I wanted carbs!  My SIL pointed me in the right direction but also listed off all the other healthy non-grain options, like veggies and fruit.  Had I not been eating crap all day, I may just have gone with her suggestions.  But instead, I returned to my spot on the couch with a bowl of Kashi cereal as a chaser to the leftover shrimp that was even better cold the second day.

My SIL is one of the most laid-back and non-judgmental people I know.  But I have to admit that it was a bit disconcerting to know that someone was paying that close attention to my eating.  But I also appreciated her caring enough to want to help me stick to my plan.  And, just in case she is reading today’s post, I’ll go on record and tell you all just how much I like her and enjoy her company:)  We have very little in common, are more dissimilar than alike, but somehow that really works for us.  Good thing she is so tolerant of all my quirks!

Does anyone in your life pay attention to your eating? Is it a good thing or a bad thing when others are aware of your healthy living goals?



Filed under family, food, influence of others, restaurant/social eating

60 responses to “Somebody’s Watching Me

  1. It certainly was considerate of your sister-in-law to consider your preferences/desires. Some friends of mine visited another mutual friend and reported later that there wasn’t a single bite of whole food in her entire house, save for one tired-looking tomato. My friends aren’t food purists, but you won’t catch them snacking on Dorito’s either. 🙂

    I actually don’t respond well (that inner rebel again) to people suggesting foods for me. I appreciate their caring, but it somehow translates as some sort of judgment in my mind. They mean well, though.

    • Karen

      I will admit that the inner rebel was definitely lurking. Maybe that contributed to my very bad eating at our social event on Saturday. But I know she really meant well and was touched by her thoughtfulness:)

  2. D

    Most people pay attention to me needing gluten-free options – and a lot of GF options are LOADED with calories, so this has been a tricky one. I had to tell my in-laws to please not buy me GF items when I’m visiting – because they basically replaced everything they were serving w/ GF things for me (chips, cookies, etc.etc.) and I prefer not to eat that stuff. I try to just have the GF items that they have (naturally GF) and I bring my stuff to supplement their menu. My family also know that I prefer to eat healthily and they will often point out things that are “healthy” and still not smothered w/ something (sauce) that might not be GF.

    It’s wonderful that you have a great SIL!

    I haven’t shared my TOPS journey or blog w/ my family though (except immediate)…just a preference. I prefer strangers to read about my food life, hahaha.

    • Karen

      There are times when I feel a bit restricted in my blogging, knowing that a few people who know the real me are reading. There are certainly some things I have not said.

      As for my SIL, I wish she did not live halfway across the country!

  3. It is really hard to continue healthy practices while people are watching. Sometimes I just want to show off and show them that I CAN have something that would suprise them despite the fact that I’m down nearly 50 lbs. I have to remind myself that I’m not out to impress anybody with my food, I just need to fuel my bod and get on with it .

    I’m so happy that your sil is so considerate and thoughtful. Some of my favorite people have started off being somebody that I had very little in common with so I can totally understand what you’re saying about that. 🙂

    • Karen

      I only have brothers. When SIL married my oldest, over 25 years ago, I was so excited at the idea I would finally have a “sister.” But that did not happen. At first. And for years, actually. But now I really love having her in my life and wish she did not live so far away. Maybe we can get along easily BECAUSE we are so different.

  4. How considerate of your sister in law! I know what you mean about not wanting anyone judging you about what you’re eating (or not eating). I’m pretty sure my mom judges (that sounds bad, but it’s the only word I can think of) what I put in my mouth, but she does that to my dad too. It does bother me.

    • Karen

      I have always wondered about my mom. She is one of the few who know about the blog. There are certainly things I would say here if she was not reading. Mostly, I hate her to look at me and see when I have regained. I am sure that over my yo-yo years, she, of all people, has been most aware of that.

  5. I wondered if I was driving you crazy or not when I pointed out the “healthy option” at the restaurant. I know you wanted to stay home and not go out, but they boys overruled you. And I wouldn’t have judged you if you had gotten the pancakes. Really I wouldn’t have. You saw what I ate. Who am I to judge? But I loved making the spa meal so you could eat healthy. My husband as you said doesn’t eat veggies so I don’t have a lot of call at dinner for healthy food. D who is gluten free reminded me about when I had to cook for a week for my mom and dad (my dad is gluten free and has other things he can’t eat too that aren’t as challenging), but I had fun trying to figure out meals for him. In the end it wasn’t hard as long as it was whole food meals. Interestingly enough I made them just about the same meal as you had. But no soup and they had a black bean salad.

    • Karen

      I hated to be a drag and am glad we went:) I don’t go out for breakfast because that is the one meal of the day I easily eat healthiest. And who wants to go out and eat something boring like cereal? Actually, I am more of a pancakes for dinner person. And you know I was also impressed that the meal was “spa-like.” Speaking of… you know I am going to eat it all when we go in the spring! BTW – this was the post I had in mind when I mentioned you were going to be in my blog. It was actually part of yesterday’s (how I did for the week) but evolved and took on a life of it’s own. Hugs.

  6. Sounds like you are lucky to have such a great SIL. Very considerate and gracious host. And I know how you feel about people scrutinizing what you eat. I feel like my mom does it all the time when I go to visit but I try to tell myself it is more because she cares and is concerned with my health than being about making me feel uncomfortable. I have even told her it bothers me and she has gotten much better about it. Some people you just have to tell, others try to ignore. Good luck!

    Stopping by from the SITStahood!

  7. Oh my goodness. I need someone like her. I am a dieting failure. It gets so discouraging. I try and try and fail and fail and basically just feel miserable all the time : (

    I am glad you had a wonderful weekend and rocked out your choices. Very happy for you. Way to go!

  8. I’m with you about not wanting my friends and family to know about or pay attention to my eating. My husband knows and wisely stays out of it most of the time.

    Your sister was kind to make the extra effort to ensure that your food was on program. On the other hand, I might have become a nasty rebel in a situation like that, not wanting her to dictate my food choices and feeling a tad controlled. Sounds like you kept your cool really well!

    • Oooops, make that SIL, not sister…

      • Karen

        My husband and I have many conversations about this topic. Poor man. The other night he was craving cookies and waited until I went to bed to bake them:) I have told him that I wished he would not bring stuff into the house or have it around. But he also has been told that he is not my monitor and if I say I want to go and get ice cream, it is not his responsibility to be the voice of reason.

  9. WOW what a great post. I am nervous to see all the food choices that will be arriving at my house the next 2 weeks. See all my neighbors know I am dieting and it will be interesting to see who will be a supporter or a saboteur of my weight.

    And I thought your sister in law’s name was SIL…How funny now I get it it stands for Sister In Law…LOL

    • Karen

      Yep, I’m getting a chuckle out of that one too. I have to admit that I hate bringing food to people. First, I am not a good cook. Second, I worry what they will and won’t like and will and won’t want. So if you get something way unhealthy, remember that it might be from an unskilled cook like me that only has one dish worthy of sharing:)

  10. It can be a good and a bad thing. My mom supports my weight loss and exercise, and has been encouraging it for a long time. It was not until recently when i decided that it was something that i wanted to do for myself.

    Some of my other family members, not so great. I feel like when we’re together they watch everything that i put into my mouth, and it gets aggravating.

    My best friends, not in the blogging world, are very supportive. They are doing whatever they can to support me, which is wonderful and very much need!

  11. My mom has been supportive and encouraging of my weight loss for a long time. It has been not until recently that i decided it was something i wanted to do for myself, and not just because other people wanted me to to do it! She’s always been encouraging me and supporting me to each right and exercise.

    As for other people in my family, they watch every single thing that i put into my mouth and it really is quite annoying and aggravating.

    My best friends, not of the blogsphere, have done everything they can to show that they support me and are proud of my in what i am doing for myself. It’s a beautiful thing!

  12. That looks like what I make for dinner 🙂

  13. My husband I am sure pays attention to my eating- but he says things like “you eat so healthy” lol.

    Like when we went out for dinner Wednesday night. I got a healther less than 500 calorie meal and he got 5 cheese mac and cheese and was like “geez babe, you make me look bad” and I said “no, you’ve got some grilled chicken in there, AND you can eat carbs, I can’t.” I feel that by encouraging him as much as possible he’ll continue to try 🙂

  14. Ann

    I always eat better when someone’s watching. Secret food binges were my bad behavior. THe whole I’m a doctor need to be a good example helps in public. Also, my BFF and I are friends on my LosIT app so she knows how many calories I’m eating, exercising and if I’m not tracking. We keep each other accountable. WOW that food looked great. My mouth is watering. I need the recipes.

  15. sunnydaze

    I don’t like people scrutinizing what I’m eating either. I think it may depend on who the peron is though – if they are truely trying to help me or if they are just waiting for me to screw up.

    You’re lucky to have such a great SIL.

  16. It’s a doubled edge sword. You want people to support you but you don’t want to be judged either. At least she cared enough about what she served you instead of criticizing you if/when you don’t eat healthy.

  17. She sounds like a great and considerate SIL. I have 3 SILs who are my favorite people in the world.

    That said, I would have found it disconcerting to have someone urging me to the lighter side continually. What I likely would have done was eat something on the down low! How sick is that? But how wonderful for her to fix meals and have food on hand that she thought would help your cause!

  18. D

    Hi Karen,
    Can you let us know how you eat BEANS for BREAKFAST??? Ideas??? 🙂 Thanks.

    • Karen

      I just made some today:) I adapted the recipe from one on It is called crockpot “refried” beans. Easy peasy…

      Rinse two cups of pinto beans, then soak overnight in plenty of water. (Other beans are fine too.) Rinse again. Add the beans to the crockpot. I add a can of Rotel tomatoes. Then, 2tsp of coriander and 1.5 T of cumin. Add water to about an inch over the beans, stir. Add one yellow and one purple onion, sliced in half. And 5 cloves of garlic peeled and halved. I cook for 10 hours on low. Remove and discard the onions. Mash the garlic and beans to desired consistency, add liquid to desired consistency. For breakfast I microwave a bowl with some shredded Monterrey Jack cheese on top. You could also top with a poached egg or put in a tortilla, etc. To me it is as comforting in the mornings as a bowl of oatmeal:)

  19. D

    PS Maybe I should look through MY BOOKS for breakfast bean ideas…sorry! Didn’t think of that! lol

  20. What an awesome support system you SIL is for you! She knew that being away from home usually is a challenge for you and she did everything she could to help you stay on track! How cool is that?

    Everyone who knows me, knows I am trying my best to eat healthy. I have lots of helpers from my immediate family, to our friends who go out of their way to help me find things on menus that would be healthy. They also ask me if certain restaurants will work for me when we are trying to decide where to go.

    Our friends go the extra mile to try and provide healthy options when we eat at their house or if they are bringing something to a dinner where we are all contributing. I so appreciate it. The nice thing is that I am starting to have an influence on them and they are starting to eat more healthy on occasion as well.

    It might be because I think of my eating as a health issue, trying to eat for good nutrition and the health benefits not just for weight loss that makes a difference in how I perceive their involvement.

    If I thought it was all about my having issues with being over weight, it might seem more embarrassing to me.

    If I had food allergies, diabetes or some other reason that I had to be careful about my food intake I wouldn’t mind the help from others and so for me it isn’t any different just because I eat healthy. Now if I have decided to have something not so healthy I make that perfectly clear prior to ordering or accepting a serving of dessert. No one makes a fuss or challenges me on it.

    Perhaps you wanted to have the weekend away as a pre cheat to Monday’s diet deadline and the helpful SIL derailed your plans.

    I am going to say something only because I have been right where you are and I had to find my way in my own time. You have read my story on my blog so you know I have walked in your shoes.

    I think maybe you are still sitting on the health fence. You want to eat healthy and lose weight but you are not quite ready to make the full commitment and climb over the fence. You are still fearing the dreaded deprivation diet!

    You have the knowledge,you have been successful in the past in eating healthy and losing weight.

    You have what it takes Karen, when you are ready to climb over the fence and make a commitment to a healthy lifestyle I have no doubt that you will attain your goals and stay there.

    • Karen

      I have to wonder. I should have long ago had this “conquered.” So why am I still struggling? I think I really do want a healthy lifestyle and I am very happy when I am on one. I have asked myself a lot of different questions as to why I am still struggling. No answers yet. Honestly, I can lose weight. Not necessarily easily, but I can do it. And have, time and time again. It is maintaining that I have yet to master. You are right that I have the knowledge. I need to get my act together and apply it consistently! Thanks for your thoughts Tami and all your continued support. Hugs.

  21. I think there is a fine lining between caring & too much. I love that she cares enough about you to think in advance & plan things but I think actually talking to you & maybe running things by you in terms of a “discussion” about it might be a better way to go.

    I have had probs with people “watching over me” when I was young & it really laid the groundwork for some very bad feelings for years in terms of not being able to eat in front of people & getting stressed when I had to..

    Again, I love that she cares but for me.. a fine line as to how much & how to do it might help if it were me…

  22. Honestly… why do we say that, “Honestly”, like if we dont say it we are compelled to tell a lie?

    Anyhow, focus – I tell very few people I am dieting. My family knows. And more bloggers know than anyone I ever imagined knows. At work, a few know only because I can’t conceal 56 pounds lost very well, nor do I want to conceal it. If someone asks, I say I am working at dropping a ‘few’ pounds. When they ask what I am doing I tell them I do Tae Bo while watching Oprah. Oh the looks I get. Cause I don’t look like the kid of guy who would watch Oprah, I think that’s it.

    So no, nobody really pays attention to my eating. I bet if I came home with a sack of White Castles and chomped down my wife would take notice.

    Have a good weekend!

  23. Having trouble–I left a comment but don’t see it so I’ll try again. I’m the same way about keeping my dieting secret. I don’t want the drama, discussions, criticisms, etc, post announcement. I also often fear that I will jinx myself by telling people what I’m up to and I’ll immediately start pigging out and turn into a slob that never moves and people will judge me for it. It was a big step for me to start a weight-loss blog because I don’t like talking about my dieting efforts for these reasons. But it has helped me tremendously. I’ve never made this much improvement in one time period. I’ve probably lost 300 pounds at different times (and gained it all back), but this is the most I’ve lost at one time without taking a break and gaining again. Great, now I’m fearing the jinx again! Tomorrow I will weight 300 pounds! Ack! Anyway, back to you. You are lucky to have a sister-in-law that is so caring, but it’s a good thing she’s yours and not mine b/c I would have eaten exactly the opposite of what she recommended, even if I agreed with her, as a sort of rebellious “I’ll show you” thing. I hate it when people tell me what I should eat, even if it’s in a nice way like she did. Stupid, I know.

    • Karen

      I so get that rebellion thing! I vividly remember when I was probably in my early 20s and my dad telling me I did not need to eat that cookie. So I ate more than one!

  24. Sounds like your SIL is a keeper! Good for you to have a cheerleader like that right in the fam.

    You know I also have not shared what I am doing with very many people. But right fro the beginning I shared with a good friend at work who wanted to read my blog right away. She has become an incredible support person. It was liberating for me to talk about my weight issues with her. She has been in my corner ever since.

    Have a good weekend!

    • Karen

      I had the greatest exercise/diet buddy several years ago, until she moved away. It was amazing to have someone to share that with. She is the person who took me to Weight Watchers back in those diet days. We tried cycling class together. I used to tell her I blamed her moving away for a weight gain! You are lucky to have that friend to support you:)

  25. Karen, your sister in law sounds lovely and supportive…glad she’s in your family! And that plate of yummy goodness pictured above makes me hungry for something healthy right now. My boyfriend actually pays attention to what I eat when I want him too. Justin loves to work out and has been making healthier food choices lately, applauding mine as well. But if I want a little treat, he’s my biggest cheerleader (as long as he gets a bite too). Have a great weekend!

  26. OH I meant to ask! Does your SIL have a food blog? I would love to follow her!

  27. How sweet of your SIL to make you a dinner that’s suited towards your goals. The food does look good. YUM.

    I usually have DS watching. Not so much watching but more like “reminding” me. Wait…does threatening to tell my boot camp instructor count as reminding? LOL

  28. i HATE talking about my diet with anyone. (and i use the term “diet” as in eating habits.) because i don’t eat red meat or cheese, or anything deep fried, people always want to know “why”. (i swear, it happens every time.) i guess i just find it embarrassing because the only answer i can think of is “well, i don’t eat junk.” but i don’t want to actually SAY that in case the other person thinks i’m criticizing their food choices. er, does that make sense? 😛

    • Karen

      Yes. Sometimes I resort to the blanket “I’m trying to eat healthier.” Once, with a group at a restaurant, I ordered double veggies and not potatoes and explained it as trying to increase my veggie intake:)

  29. What a gift in such a great SIL! How’s your MIL? LOL I’d love the spicy, shrimp recipe!

  30. That was really nice of your SIL. I never tell anyone about my diet, because I’m thin with high cholesterol. People think only overweight people have to follow diets.

    • Karen

      I was thin when I was first diagnosed with high cholesterol too! I got a lot of comments like “But your so thin…” Mine is familial. But diet never improved it. Actually, that is why I started exercising several years ago:) But I’ve been on meds now so long I can’t remember.

  31. Genie@dietof51

    That is a touching story about your SIL, showing concern and support for you. Only those of us who have battled the food demons know how the “fine line” of concern/watchdogging/rebellion/etc./etc. changes every time. As you would say: Sigh…..

    I don’t have a lot in common with my two brothers’ wives, but I can say that they both stepped up to “champion” level IMO by the ways they helped deal with our family tragedy earlier in the year. Love them for that.

    • Karen

      Yes, it is a fine line. I have been on both sides of it too. I have another SIL and the two are very different. As are their husbands, so I guess that stands to reason:) Ah, families.

  32. Wow, you are very cool to handle your sister in law’s actions that way! Good for you. In the past I have *not* reacted well when people say things to me like “this is not for you,” etc etc. Of course, your approach in the end is best: just take it as a courtesy, and go ahead and eat what *you* think is right for you at that moment. Still, I’m impressed at how you kept an even keel. Fantastic.

  33. I know what you mean by not wanting people to know that you’re on a diet, but it is so much easier to me to stay on if I know I’m being watched. My office mates know not to bring me cookies or let me know when there are special treats in the break room. My sister and SIL are watching what they eat to so when we go out, we’re all strong for each other.

    After you lose a significant amount of weight though, its hard for people to notice that you’re not on a diet 🙂

  34. I don’t really tell people about my dieting. Just a really close friend who is totally into it. She lost quite a bit of weight and is very disciplined with herself (but has mentioned that she is always hungry). Anyway, she has good ideas so we discuss it, but I don’t bring it up around other people because most people don’t want to talk about it. Your SIL sure made you a yummy looking meal. Very nice of her to be so supportive. Some people, when they know you are dieting seem to try to trip you up (maybe misery loves company?). I don’t want my weight or what I eat to be a topic of conversation though because I’m already too obsessive about it and I want to stop. My dream…to eat like a healthy, slim person…without having to think about it too much. Is that too much to ask? 🙂

    • Karen

      “…to eat like a healthy, slim person…without having to think about it too much. Is that too much to ask?” Me too! I want the same thing:)

  35. My husband used to watch what I ate all the time! It used to drive me craaaaaaaazy!!! If I took a big plate of pasta he would say something like, “Isn’t that a lot of pasta?” Then of course I could not enjoy it! For some reason he doesn’t care what I eat anymore thankfully.

  36. It’s wonderful to have such a supportive SIL! I think that’s one of the biggest tools to have on this journey. My family (my mom specifically) has never been any help whenever I’ve tried dieting. She’s either shoving cake and donuts in my face when I’m doing well, or criticizing when I’m not. Thankfully I have a friend that is doing this with me, and that makes it so much easier! Good luck!

  37. AFG

    I find it keeps me more on my toes if others ask me, “Hey how are you doing with your fitness goals?” But you know I hate the word “diet” it seems so short term. I don’t even use it. But some people really don’t look at the word that way.

  38. I feel really uncomfortable when someone goes out of their way to make me something special that they normally wouldn’t have had on their menu.

    I just feel singled out and not in a good way.

    It sounds like she had the best of intentions though.

  39. Pingback: Waisting Time , Archive » Hot 100 – Week 4 Update

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