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Women who don't eat much when among peers

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My wife, who is 59 y/o, is attractive fit and slim. She’s going into NYC today to meet a friend and go to the ballet. I asked her if she’d like dinner when she got home this evening and she said “no, we’ll have dinner after the show”. I’m willing to bet that she will not have dinner, maybe a cocktail or two, a shared appetizer or two and a salad but no entrée. The woman she’s with is rail thin. Now @ 11:00 tonight she’ll be at the refrigerator looking for something to eat because she’s “starving”. I think that among urban professional women of a certain age there’s a feeling that if they eat “heartily” it is somehow a negative, lower class thing. So they don’t do it among their peers, only behind closed doors.
Is this true?

  1. Ugh, that's just so effed up and what a waste to not avail yourself of great food in a great food city.
    Your wife and especially her friend sound like they're in the "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" camp.

    12 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      Not my wife, she's a big eater when at home. She does not struggle with weight issues because of good genes and the fact that she's high energy and constantly in motion but there are several women in her circle of friends who, believe me, haven't missed many meals. Why not just be honest about it and eat? When I go out with guy friends it's the opposite, 32oz. porterhouses and one pizza per person.

      1. re: zackly

        If that was really true she would order an entree

        1. re: kpaxonite

          My wife is a facilitator and a follower, much more concerned about other people's feelings than her own. It is a positive character trait in her case. If others wanted to eat more she's definitely be amenable to it but chooses not to rock the boat by going along with the crowd. Also, because they split the check equally she'd feel obligated to contribute more which her friends would not allow which would make her uncomfortable.

          1. re: zackly

            On on earth would ordering an entree instead of a salad be "rocking the boat"? I cannot imagine being that uncomfortable among anyone, but especially not friends.

            1. re: LeoLioness

              I think uncomfortable might be a stretch - but say you're out with friends and plan on splitting the check at the end of the night. It's makes for far less social friction if people are ordering items of similar value. So if a friend is ordering from the appetizer section, ordering an entrée may make my part of the meal cost more to a degree where splitting the check down the middle may not feel entirely correct. And depending on the nature of the relationship - that may be awkward.

              There are enough posts on this site about issues regarding splitting the checks and problems when eating out with friends, that for some - avoiding any potential awkwardness (and having a midnight snack later) is just easier.

              1. re: cresyd

                But if these are friends, surely this isn't a major issue? "Guys, I'm starving, I'm having the ____ . I'll throw in more when the check comes."

                I guess my friends are just not that difficult.

                1. re: LeoLioness

                  I have close friends who are not difficult. I have friends who are great in some areas and very difficult in others (i.e. money, dieting). I have friend groups where individually things work one way but in a group function differently and can be more prone to difficulties. I'm also perhaps more sensitive than some women.

                  This also isn't something that bothers me. It doesn't bother me if I know I'm going out with X and so that means I should get a quick snack before dinner cause we're likely to just split a few appetizers. It doesn't bother me to eat less to avoid splitting hairs about a bill.

        2. re: zackly

          It's a shame that your wife feels as though she can't be herself and embrace the joy that is food, especially when someone else is doing the cooking!

          But, it's not just your wife and friend. So many women eat like birds at restaurants and succumb to societal pressure, and if it's a date with a guy, she's bound to order salad- with the dressing on the side.

          In our society, being thin is equated with wealth, sophistication and intelligence.

        3. re: monavano

          "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels". I'm totally going to use that one!

          Now to address the OP's question. Personally for me if I'm out with my girls specifically for drinks, and dinner then I'll eat more. But if there are other plans to follow such as ballet, show, etc. then I'll eat lighter for comfort's sake.

          1. re: letsindulge

            I forget what stick insect super model said that, but yeah, it was said in all seriousness.

            1. re: monavano

              It's often attributed to Kate Moss but I believe consensus is she did not originate it.

              1. re: julesrules

                It was a Weight Watchers tagline in a 1984 commercial. I still use it to prevent myself from eating something that I don't really want (i.e., out of boredom, or just because it's there).

        4. A couple appetizers and a salad sounds like a good meal to me. A 2 lb. steak and a pizza sounds disgusting. Personally, I like to eat smaller, more frequent meals.

          Have you asked her about eating in public? Maybe it's just your perception.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Hobbert

            It sounds like she's not eating much if she raids the fridge when she gets home.
            If I ate a full dinner that late, the last thing I'd want is more food.

            1. re: monavano

              That sounds normal to me. I don't want to feel uncomfortably full so I'll eat a smallish dinner and later have a yogurt and some Triscuits, for example. Eh, different strokes. Haha maybe people suspect me of not wanting to eat in public.

            2. re: Hobbert

              I agree. Eating light like that is wonderful. If I eat a full meal - app, entree, dessert - I am uncomfortably full.

            3. Not in my experience, and I'm an urban professional woman about 10 years younger than your wife (and fit and trim but not rail thin). Among my female friends, it's much more common to order what you want and eat heartily when you're out for meals with friends, and then watch your food choices more closely when you're eating at home or out on your own. Although as another poster noted, we're more likely to choose a small plates restaurant and share a bunch of things rather than going to a steak house for a giant hunk of meat. But that's my true personal preference for dining out, not a nod to peer pressure.

              1. Speaking as a woman who is close to your wife's age, our bodies change, our eating habits change.
                In my personal experience, I cannot eat "heartily" at most restaurants.
                Entree portions are too big, appetizers and small plates are great. I can have a few different tastes and not feel stuffed. (Twenty years ago it was a different story.)

                Pick up some good cheese and bread (or whatever your wife likes) or cook up something she can snack on when she's feeling hungry. Be kind to each other.

                6 Replies
                1. re: pamf

                  I think the point is that Z's wife is starving when she gets home, so she's not eating too much, so you have to ask why?

                  1. re: monavano

                    Then he should ask her.

                    Once again, personal experience, I can have a drink and small plate and be happy at a restaurant. A few hours later I might be looking for a snack. I might not describe it as "starving", but to each her own.

                    What I am trying to say is that it is not a cultural phenomenon, but just varying appetites.

                    1. re: pamf

                      I get the sense from Z's OP that his wife isn't so much peckish as famished- letting too much time go between refueling, especially if it involves alcohol.
                      It sounds like she's denying herself for appearance sake, which is more of a social issue vs. being content with small plates.

                      If that's the case, and I of course don't know the woman!, but if she's self conscious about eating to satisfaction (and pure unadulterated enjoyment) because her friend is heroin-chic, then that's a shame if she feels she'll be judged as being lesser, or possessing less will power.

                      Maybe Z (OP) can have a leftover plate ready to pop in the micro for when she gets home.

                      1. re: monavano

                        I don't know the woman either. I think we are just coming at this from two different perspectives, but probably no one is actually starving in any of these scenarios. :)

                        I think that when I go out to eat with a friend or group, I usually order about the same number of courses/amount of food as my dining companions.
                        Because you don't want to have someone sitting without a plate while you are having an appetizer, or whatever. So if the OP's wife occasionally dines with this friend, she might just adjust to her friend's pattern, enjoy the company, and want a snack later.

                        1. re: pamf

                          You're right about trying to be in sync, plate-wise and cost-wise, with your dining mates.

                      2. re: pamf

                        I'm with you on personal preference and also ... Why the hell my dining companions gotta care what I choose one night? Maybe I want a light app and maybe I want a steak and baked potato. Why do you care? (Not YOU but anyone?)

                  2. I've known so many women who do this...and as one of "those women" who has more male friends than female friends, there's a LOT of them out there, and I've never understood why.

                    On a date, it's wasteful -- I've known so many guys who were turned off or downright pissed that they took a woman out, she ordered a full meal and then mostly picked or pushed it around her plate, throwing most of it away (and then she eats his dessert....)

                    With friends, it's a sign of a lack of friendship, IMO. My girlfriends have seen me fat and skinny, wtih and without makeup, when I'm crying or laughing, dressed to the nines, and wrapped in a cruddy old sweatshirt. I'm comfortable being who I am and eating whatever I want with them.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sunshine842

                      Yeah, ordering a meal and eating half is awfully wasteful. I love places that do half orders!