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Sep 28, 2008 04:44 PM

How Do I Keep an Adult Friend Who Has A Very Limited and Unhealthy Diet

I have a dilema. I have a female friend who is 42 years old and a professional. She is single and desperately wants to meet someone special. She is of above average looks and is of average weight. He biggest social is the fact that she only eats Pizza, cheese, bread, pasta with either butter or a plain marinara sauce, mozzerella sticks, french fries/baked potatoe or pancakes/waffles. And, of course she eats sweets -- candy, ice cream and all sorts of pastries. Yes, she eats like a 6 year old.

She keeps asking me why she doesn't meet anyone and i cannot help bringing up the way she eats. She is interested in men who "like the finer things in life" and I keep telling her that one of those things is food! She just ignores me. Infact, I have just recently told her that as a friend I cannot go out and dine with is like i am sharing a meal with a toddler.

Any advice on what to do?

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  1. You cannot help those that do not want to be helped.

    What if you invite her over for dinner? Will she eat what you serve?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Jen76

      Unfortunately she won't eat what I serve. We spent 8 weekends with her in a house share out in the Hamptons and it was a gastronomic nightmare...she will choose not t eat than try something...I even work with a very professional setting and have watched her a work luncheons completely ignore the food on her plate at company paid for conventions. And, then she doesn't understand why she does not get the respect of her peers. She does not draw a link between her eating habits and her character

      1. re: jansteph

        "She does not draw a link between her eating habits and her character..." - excuse me, but what sort of "character flaws" would be evidenced by such a diet? And in what industry do you both work where this would cost her "the respect of her peers"?? I'm curious, really. Not eating what your friends or company graciously offers is a bit of a manners problem, but I don't really get the rest of the "adventurous eating equals good character" equation, especially when it comes to platonic friends or in a business setting. Really, who cares what's on your plate - it should be how you do your job or what kind of friend you are that really matters...

        1. re: Morticia

          Ok..i am not talking about someone who is a meat and potatoes girl...i am talking about a grown woman, who by the way works in the healthcare field, who is 42 years old, who eats literally nothing and i mean nothing but pizza, french fries, cheese and plain meat, no vegetables..not even a piece of lettuce, not a legume, not a juice....who has been recently rushed to the hospital for stomach ailments was given a chat to by physicians and still chooses to eat like a toddler..and to be frank, toddlers eat better. It is like sitting by and watching someone who is grossly overweight eating a plate full of twinkies and then continuously complaining why they are some point you just either say something or walk away.....being a friend is about saying something...walking away is being a coward...and not a friend....

          1. re: jansteph

            But you have said something, as have the doctors, and the ex-boyfriend. Is there much more to be said?

            1. re: julesrules

              you right..there isn't much more....i guess these posts have been my last ditch effort to possibly uncover a bit of insight to keep my from walking away from this friendship which needs to be done somewhat delicately since we do work together......she doesn't have many friends....infact, none that I know of.....and now i can understand why....i know several people have posted to just ignore it...or take food out of the equation....well, when you work long hours and have limited time on your hands, coupled with a social culture that is driven by food (reason for this website and many others)....that is quite difficult.....and at 42 myself, i choose to attempt to eat more healthy...and pizza/french fries are not a staple in my life...moreover, the constant whining about why she is alone and doesn't have anyone in her life has reached critical overload as well......i guess i really know what i have to do, i am just reticent to do so; it will hurt her and it is not something i like doing

              1. re: jansteph

                Perhaps you can print this thread for her to read?

        2. re: jansteph

          Your friend missed her chance in the Hamptons if she only wanted a white collar guy. Blue collar men in the Hamptons (Landscaping, building trades, service providers make very good money. On the other hand, white collar real estate brokers are making zilch. I take it that the Hamptons house share was an "investment".

      2. If she's a good friend, I might write her a letter that she can reread. A conversation is too easy to ignore, but when it's pen & ink, it can carry a bit more weight.

        I had a nephew in law that fit this same general description - but even more limited.
        My niece divorced him after 12 yrs. She's met someone new who actually eats!
        What a relief & he is a joy to be around because he'll try new things.

        If you could get her to try a few new things, perhaps she could slowly increase the foods she eats. There are actually remedies for this type of behavior. But would she take one?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Isabella

          A letter is not a bad idea....that way I too can think thru what i want to say...thank you

          1. re: Isabella

            Letter is not a good idea. Do not put into writing your criticism, however well meaning, of a friend. It will lose you a friend. Unsolicited help, the road to hell, etc.
            If you have told her when she asked, that should be enough. If she asks again, you can say it again. A letter can be kept forever. Don't do it.

          2. I would let it go. You are not her caretaker. She has asked for your opinion, you gave it and she ignored you. IMO you will wreck the friendship if you write to her or tell her again.

            5 Replies
              1. re: smartie

                Agreed - it's not up to you to change her eating habits. She asked for advice, you gave it, she declined to take it (so far). Done and done.

                I am not sure why you can't go out and dine with her as a friend, but that's your choice.

                1. re: akq

                  I also agree. You call her a "friend" I can't see how the eating habits of a friend would be a deal breaker in whether or not to remain friends with them. Yes, it might be annoying, but many people do something others find annoying, it's just life and we learn to deal with it. If you have fun with her and this isn't an excuse to end your friendship then let it go. If it is an excuse for something else she may be doing, it could need further looking into that might warrent a break in the friendship.

                  1. re: michele cindy

                    Y'know, I find it harder to eat with a friend who is too much of a self-declared food or wine or beer snob, than it is to eat with a friend with simple low-brow tastes. I can always simplify my choices to match theirs and find something I'm happy to eat/drink. With my snobbier friends sometimes it can be a bit trying, as they pick apart and criticize the food, the service, my selections, the wine, the beer, etc. Yes, its fun to eat with someone who is adventurous and enjoys sharing the experience with you, but sometimes going too far to the food snob end is worse than the other. I'd just go have a pizza with your friend.

                    1. re: Firegoat

                      Yes it's always a delicate task finding the 'right', re: usually similar, minded people.

                      Classic experience of too high brow was going out with a couple who were family friends of my partner. The spent the whole evening savaging the food service etc. and then at one point turned to me and asked what I was studying, and to my response they asked why would I do two degrees that qualified me for nothing?

                      But if you go too far 'low' brow you find yourself mentally groaning when they pick an all you can eat trough experience over an actual restaurant - I think would probably rather be insulted by the high brow couple than waste stomach space on fried grease with some boiled grease and a side of oil slick. Even if they were better company.

              2. Go to the movies, go for a hike, go window shopping, take a Spanish class... find ways to spend time with her that don't involve eating... if you want to preserve the friendship. If you're looking for an excuse to end the friendship it could be that you're masking the real issue behind her eating habits, in which case it's time to stop calling her and start conveniently having other plans when she wants to get together.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Jetgirly

                  Seconded. Not all relationships have to revolve around food. Find something that both of you like to do and pursue that instead- be it going to concerts, watching films, hiking, taking a some sort of class together, or volunteering for a charity. She can pursue the same philosophy with romantic relationships and avoid going to dinner as a main date option. There are plenty of fine men out there who won't care that she's a picky eater, but if she's starting out a relationship by going to finer restaurants, she's just not going to get anywhere.

                  1. re: Jetgirly

                    To the OP:

                    I agree with Jetgirly. Take food out of the equation of the relationship. Meet for a movie after lunch. Meet in the park for a walk. Have drinks after dinner.

                    She has asked the question about her love life and you have answered it. Now quit answering it. If she brings it up again remind her that you've had that conversation ("I'm sorry, I don't think I have anything new to share with you, sweetie!"). Then change the subject.

                    Now on the other hand, if you are a fixer type of person, Habitat for Humanity might be a good place to go. There are lots of other worthy causes, too, of course.

                    Best of luck to you!

                  2. I disagree with the people who said you should just let it go. She can't meet the men she wants, and she's asking you for your help. As tough as it might be to tell her the truth, if you're really interested in keeping her as your friend (and helping her solve her problem), you have to try to help her. And it's clear that you want to.

                    I think a letter is a great suggestion. It will give you the time to think about exactly what you want to say and to express yourself clearly. Sometimes it's tough to say everything you want the way you want to in a conversation. When you give it to her, be sure to explain that this isn't something she needs to be taking lightly. Be crystal clear with her that her eating habits are negatively impacting many areas of her life, INCLUDING your friendship. Tell her flat out what you've said here - she eats like a child, and (fair or not) people around her have difficulty respecting her because they perceive that this behavior extends to other areas of her life as well. It's very important that you make her see a direct cause and effect relationship here.

                    If she wants to work with you, that's fantastic. If you can afford it, maybe offer to take her to lunch or dinner once a week - you'll pay if she agrees to try ONE new thing. Even if it's something like whole wheat pasta versus white or meat sauce instead of marinara, don't forget that it's still progress. Be prepared to be patient with her. Another alternative is, if you can, recruit someone she admires and respects to help you. My younger sister used to be a super picky eater, but when she would go over to friends' houses or out with guys she really liked, she would eat what they liked in order to impress them. Although it's not necessarily the right reason to try different foods, it worked for my sister. She still likes her food a bit bland, but she's made tremendous strides, discovered tons of things she was missing out on, and is now generally willing to try different foods when we go out. Since your friend seems concerned with garnering the respect of her peers, this might be an effective route.

                    On the other hand, she may refuse entirely. If you have mutual friends who feel the same way, you might even want to go so far as to have an "intervention" with her and let her know that it's not just the opinion of one person that she needs to consider. If she refuses all of your efforts though, just let her know that there are going to be consequences. Namely, you will no longer be willing to go out to eat with her or to do anything else with her where this type of childish behavior is likely to manifest itself. It sounds harsh, but you also need to let her know that if she's going to choose not to act on the advice that she personally requested, she needs to stop burdening you with this problem since, at that point, it's really just a waste of BOTH your times to keep discussing it.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Al_Pal

                      From my experience, when people ask why they're not meeting wonderful potential partners, it's more like getting something off their chest rather than looking to have their specific flaws analysed. It's usually a rhetorical question along the lines of, "Why do I always lose my keys?" If the person flat-out ignores your contribution to the conversation, it's a further sign that it was meant as a rhetorical question.

                      1. re: Jetgirly

                        Very good observation, Jetgirly.

                        To the OP: You've said your piece. How about just let her eat what she wants and don't worry about it.

                        1. re: Kagey

                          i think he isn't worried about it, but annoyed by her constant griping about her situation. from the op's description, she seems like an emotional vampire, stealing the op's energy. she eats pizza and downs it with a chaser of your energy.

                          op: i feel for ya, bro!


                          since you have to work around her, much can't be avoided without really engendering a poor work environment. you've said your piece about her personal issues. let it lie, and if it bothers you to eat around her, just don't! if she is otherwise a fine person, then you need to dial-down your frustration level by dialing down your need to make her change. if she is not a fine person to be friends with, then you can just be professional colleagues.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            I think the key is that JS needs to say something. Presumably she became friends with this woman for some other reason, and if it's strayed from that to the friend griping constantly about how she's single, that's a problem that needs to be address. I've done it on multiple occasions and it usually works out as long as both parties are mature adults. Part of being a friend is realizing that you're not going to love everything a person does or says and doing what you need to do to look past those flaws/disagreements.

                      2. re: Al_Pal

                        The OP said she spent EIGHT weekends in a house share in the Hamptons with her. This is in addition to working with her. Daily.

                        If she didn't get a clue then, she never will.

                        OP-Move on.

                        1. re: Cathy

                          I actually think that the amount of time the OP has spent with this woman is crucial. She works with her but still wants to spend vacation time in the Hamptons with her. This is obviously an important friendship, and it sounds like this is more of a recurring issue than a rhetorical question. I don't think the OP would be asking for advice unless she felt like this person was worth the trouble.

                          I know I've already posted, but I find this thread kind of fascinating. I mentioned that my sister has similar food issues (she's recently gotten better though), but I also have a really good friend who sounds just like this woman. Both my sister and my friend act like children in a lot of other respects as well, and I've never before considered that there could be some sort of connection.

                          My friend is well on her way to being a university professor, but she just WILL NOT eat like a grown-up. She eats tons of oreos and other junk foods, won't touch anything with lettuce on it, and eats the heck out of some french fries. Although I don't work with her in a professional capacity, I can only imagine what those who do work with her think if even our mutual friends believe it's ridiculous. She's an attractive girl, but there have been plenty of men interested in her who have come and gone over the years and have consistently mentioned her eating habits as being one of the primary reasons they were ultimately turned off. And the guys we're still friends with invariably list that as one of the reasons they could never see themselves dating her.

                          I've had my share of emotional food-related issues over the years, and it occurs to me that her behavior is possibly indicative of some deeper problem. Even if it isn't, it's still something that the OP should try to address for the sake of her friend's happiness.

                          Another suggestion: there's a current thread on one of these boards asking if food issues are grounds for dumping someone. Maybe even showing her those posts will awaken her to the fact that, for those people who do enjoy the "finer things," having a partner to share them with is an essential element of happiness.

                          1. re: Al_Pal

                            Yes - I too think she has other issues that are manifesting through her diet. She may need a therapist. It's something deeper then just speaking with her will help. I do not see any problem with a close friend suggesting this. It's a lot more going on here then simply breaking up over a diet - Here's another amateur psych. take, she does this to avoid commitment, she thinks she's ready, but deep down inside, she's not. This is a way out for her.

                        2. re: Al_Pal

                          Thank you for your articulate and thought out response.