How do you respond to “I ate WAAAAY too much”?

I feel like I should be on some sort of Stereotype Horse right now, hat off and slapping it’s foaming flanks as I scream through glittering towns decorated in ice and lights: “The Holidays are coming!  The HOLIDAYS are COMING!”

Or perhaps with the non-stop Christmas songs in stores since the day after Halloween and the endless magazines foisting both deliciously decadent holiday baking recipes upon us on the same pages as their Tried and True Diets or Overeating Avoidance Tips, you are already clued into the arrival of a time of celebration that is partaken in some form or another across much of the world at this time of year.  So maybe I’ll keep that horse in the barn for now and just be a lazy fatty and assume you know what time is coming, eh?

Fillyjonk over at Shapely Prose posted today a lovely item about getting through what most people acknowledge (whether in sullen acceptance, abject fear or cheery joy) as the largest overeating-likely time of year around.  (Though for me that time is actually Easter since I LOVES hard boiled eggs, ham and horseradish even more than holiday cookies!)

I have a question that I wanted to put out there in the spirit of thinking about this anticipated/dreaded typical holiday feasting at this time of year.  Since I didn’t want to hijack the thread at SP I will ask it here:

In a time of feasting, when it is assumed, almost demanded, that one overeat of delectable items; how DO you respond to the moaning sighs of “Oh, I ate WAAAY too much?” These sorts of phrases always sound like the battle-horn demanding that everyone else in the room also raise their feasting spears in the air and triumphantly though weakly declare the they too have over-partaken of the festivities.  Sort of like the drunk that wants to hear a chorus around them of “Oh yeah, me too.  I drank so much.  I am SOOOO drunk right now!” Those who feast and overeat (or even those who just eat enough) seem to want to bond through a rallying cry of “TOOOO much!”

So what do you say to that?  Are you required to join in and moan along with the crowd as though  you too are uncomfortable?  What if you AREN’T??  Is it impolite to say, “I’m sorry you feel uncomfortable.  I didn’t overeat today”?  Or are you just supposed to nod along and grin saying, “Ahh, this is the time of year for it!”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for eating of delicious things.  And as Fillyjonk pointed out; there are times when almost everyone indulges to the point of discomfort.  I might do so on delicious roasted beast this week.  I’m not asking if overeating in and of itself is of any “good” or “bad” moral virtue.  I want to know if the communal stomach-clutching and whining has to just be accepted as part-and-parcel of the whole holiday gig.  “Phenomenal holiday dishes!  ITTY bitty storage space…”

Should I just relax and not try to be some sort of “Fatbassador”?  Because I just have this feeling as though the moment I agree that yes, sometimes I too eat too much, then it becomes WRONG for me since I’m fat and while it is okay for a thin or average person who diets all year to let loose “in moderation“; I should be fasting at all times because, I mean just LOOK at me! Or, alternately, if I make a mention that no I didn’t feel the need to eat every canoli I could reach (they’re just not my favorite food for one thing), then I risk breaking the anticipated camaraderie.  That olive branch held out to the fatty of “Ooo, here I feel like you must feel ALL THE TIME, pity me and let’s commiserate together” was set on fire by my denial of having overeaten.

Then again, maybe none of that is going through anyone’s mind.  Perhaps I’m just over-thinking things.  I’ve eaten too much from the Worry Tree and drunk too much from the Over-analyze Punch.  Maybe the next time it comes up I’ll just smile and raise a toast, “To holiday cheer and no food fears!”

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14 thoughts on “How do you respond to “I ate WAAAAY too much”?

  1. I usually respond to the “I ate too much” woes by asking “Was it good?” or “Did you enjoy it?” The answer is most generally a resounding, “Well, yeah, but…” and I cut them off there and say, “And that’s what matters…” Or I ignore it. I have much better things to do and talk about when seeing friends and family whom I haven’t seen in a while on a day that is supposed to be a joyous one.

    Earlier this month I posted some holiday eating tips for people with eating disorders, but they’re also useful for recovering dieters and others with disordered eating habits.

  2. I never know where to go with this one, either. I’m in recovery from an ED, and food talk makes me uncomfortable either way. Usually, I don’t eat to discomfort, so when other folks are bemoaning their “bad behavior,” I just let other family members chime in. My family’s big enough (and talkative enough) that someone else will fill that void or change the subject…

  3. I usually just don’t comment other than, “oh, really?” and then move on to something else. I guess that’s a comment in itself, in that I try to not appear too interested in other people’s food/eating. This can be a tough one, though, especially with in-laws.

  4. Well…it’s probably snarky of me, but my reply is usually something along the lines of “I’m sorry to hear that! That’s why we make good stuff whenever we feel like it, no one overindulges when it isn’t a big deal special thing!” Yeah, I’m the resident bitch 😉 They’re used to it at this point!

  5. Thanks Rachel and actually your tips have been a huge help already, particularly the first one. By NOT skipping breakfast on Thanksgiving I actually enjoyed the dinner feast and didn’t end up overeating from sheer hunger like usual so in that respect I already feel better; but responding to those who DO overeat because they are starved all day becomes difficult; I can’t seem to find the line between witty banter and becoming some sort of raging Fat-ambassador from hell 😉

  6. I simply ignore comments like that unless they come from a child and in that case I look around to see where the nearest bathroom or vomit receptical might be…

  7. “It was all part of my diabolical plan! Bwa ha ha ha ha! Now I will harvest the fat from your bellies and make biodiesel and sell it at exorbitant prices!” Or something equally Dr. Horrible.

  8. Ah, relax and pretend that it would never occur to anyone to judge another person’s eating patterns based on their looks. You’re just another reveler.

    If the “Oh, I ate too much!” came from someone who just throws it out there for form’s sake, I’d reply, “wasn’t it delicious?”

    If it comes from someone who genuinely seems to feel guilty or judgmental, I’d reply, “well of course, it’s a feast!”

  9. Most of the time, I hear it is in relationship with eat so much that one feels tired, has an upset stomach or another compliant. I ate too much tonight and my stomach hurt for a short while. I told myself. I’ll live. The food was good and the belly ache went away in a few minutes.

    Sit down and relax is usually a good answer. Because many people feel tired after eating because the body is busy digesting food. Most likely one is feeling lethargic after a heavy meal (many of them during the holiday season) and needs time for one’s food to settle. I know that I feel tired after eating a heavy meal and that can make me irritable.

  10. The “ooooh I ate too much!” is one of the few times when I don’t see a food comment as some kind of a value judgement. In my experience, it’s always been a simple statement of a person’s state of being in the moment, not requiring a response.

    Sometimes, some people chime in. Sometimes, people don’t. As long as the person isn’t belaboring the point, it’s just a passing comment.

    There are some people who choose to use that moment as an excuse to start talking about the should and shouldn’t of eating. Whether it’s somebody talking about temperance or somebody commenting about how they plan ahead so they don’t do that, I put the brakes on and make a comment about how lovely the food, the day, or something else is.

    Here’s the thing, you don’t have to be an abassador for fat all the time anymore than people need to proseletyze about their diets all the time. It’s perfectly ok to let a comment be just a passing comment. Really.

    We say things that don’t require a response all the time. It’s part of how language works. There is no obligation to respond to everything people say. If somebody asks, “Why so quiet?” I usually say, “I was just enjoying the afterglow of the meal,” or “I was just lost in thought for a minute.” Whatever.

    Just enjoy the holidays and don’t overthink the nitpicky stuff. Nobody else is.

  11. P.S. The response to that statement in my family is, “Yeah, tell me about it! Wasn’t that (insert food) DELICIOUS?!” Which is usually followed by unanimous agreement and praising of the rest of the meal.

    Sometimes, it’s passing. Sometimes, people use it as an excuse to praise how good something was. Either way. *shrug*

  12. My response to the above question would be, “Want some Tums, or do you like ginger Altoids better?” As long as “I ate too much” is about indigestion rather than weight, I don’t get my antlers too bent about it. If they follow it up with, “And starting January 1 I’m going to be GOOD!”, it’s epic eyeroll time.

    • I think that’s a large part of my problem with one co-worker’s constant belaboring of having eaten too much; it is always followed by “I need to be GOOD from now on” or something about having to run 80 miles to “work it off”. I usually smile at that last one and respond, “You know it doesn’t work that way, right?” or something else light-hearted.

      But thanks for the ideas. Guess I need to just go with the flow and maybe use some of those ideas about “But wasn’t it delicious” and move on to other topics if things get into uncomfortable territory. Thanks for the suggestions!

  13. I think your analogy to the getting drunk is right on. Except in those cases when saying, “I’m so full” is part of a cultural nod to the chef/host and a way of complimenting them on a job well done, the vast majority of such comments are expressions of insecurity and a desire to ameliorate that by peer pressure. It’s immature and annoying, and I have no patience for it and usually say something to call attention explicitly to those comments as a form of social pressure.

    Then again, I do that year round, because I think those comments happen year round (esp. among women).

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