HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Women who don't eat much when among peers


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!

                    2. i'm in the demographic you describe.
                      my friends and i eat a LOT of food-- ALL THAT WE NEED TO FEEL FULL.
                      sometimes this means two starters AND an entree AND drinks.
                      the last time i went out for drinks and snacks with my best friend i ended up ordering two "LARGE PLATES" (i.e. entrees0 and one "SMALL PLATE" from the lounge menu. we also had house made potato chips and house roasted nut mixture along with our drinks.

                      your wife's behavior, as you describe it, would be very odd/weird among any of my friendship groups.

                      1. I am a few years older than your wife. I love to eat but have never been able to eat a lot at one sitting. My best friend and I went out the other night and shared 6 small plates and I was full. We walked around the tourist town and then stopped at another small plates place, where we shared a couple more. Then a light snack when I got home. So, a lot of food consumed, but not all at one time.

                        1. Having been out with Mom and her friends..they are just tooo busy talking to eat....

                          1. It may be true of urban professional women where you are, zackly. And it may be true of urban professional women where I am - except for the 60 year old one I live with.

                            1. Not the women I know -- or would want to know.

                              1. If this is what your wife does in this particular social circle I don't see a big deal about it. You're not talking about an overall eating disorder, just a set of circumstances surrounding these friends.

                                I doubt my wife would ever start a discussion for me asking;

                                "My husband goes into the city with a certain group of friends where he eats, extra thick cut bacon, jumbo shrimp cocktail, tomato and mozzarella, oysters, porterhouse steak, German potatos and cream spinach. All that washed down with fine Russian vodkas, Italian wines till the point he and his friends need to unbuckle their belts, and pass out in a food coma for ride home."

                                He does this frequently with his peers, never behind closed doors. Is this true??

                                Nope, don't think that thread is ever going to happen.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                  One of the many double standards that exist between men & women in contemporary culture. Women are taught, overtly & subliminally, that looking good is job#1. Not eating, although perverse as it may seem, is seen as a noble attempt to be thin.

                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                    unless your wife is pounding down at a steak house with jrv....and starving herself on other nights with her girlfriends, I don't get this post.

                                    "My husband usually pounds down at his favorite mantown steak haunt and eats a disgusting heart artery, oh you better call an ambulance amount of meat and fish and cheese and fat fat fat, while pounding martinis.

                                    Today he went to see the Boston Ballet at Lincoln Center, and after watching the young men leap and spin, he ordered a selzter water and a side salad. When he got home and got out of his fancy clothes he went straight to the freezer and is devouring a pint of Ben and Jerry's . Should I be concerned? I mean really, he didn't even have the decency to order something and bring me home leftovers???"

                                  2. Eating minimally is okay during a business lunch. Otherwise, let 'er rip, I say.

                                    1. The psychology and complicated relationships women have with each other and with food are not easy to understand.

                                      I live in nyc and understand your commentary. I feel there can be a fear of judgement, (no by the friend yet by surrounding diners or even the staff), and an outward expression of control by limiting intake in public.

                                      It is unfortunately not unusual

                                      1. I think it depends on the peer group. I'm a bit contrary so if I feel someone is looking askance at the way I eat (voluminously and with gusto) I might even eat more. I have had the odd look from a waiter or closeby table most recently when ordering bone marrow app and fried chicken main... It really does not bother me, although I'm not slim these days. I figure people's assumptions about what I eat or should be eating are their own.

                                        1. i confess to this. i'm 27 (28 tomorrow) and who i'm with definitely influences what and how much i eat. i also (being quite thin) often get flak from servers about my order. people routinely say things to me like "wow, i would never have guessed you like pizza" or "french fries? you? how do you do it?". considering i'm still recovering from a crippling bout of anorexia, it's honestly very annoying. but i still feel a social pressure to conform to "expectations" around my body size/shape and gender and along with those, what i do or don't eat and how much. i'm not a salad with dressing on the side type, but with girlfriends or family or a serious significant other, i'll order the bacon cheeseburger with tater tots and a root beer. with people i know less well, or on a first date, i'm more likely to order a salad with grilled chicken, or maybe sushi/sashimi. can't really explain it, but it happens. i feel judged a lot when i order "indulgent" food or eat larger portions, and that can be hard. in comfortable/close company i'm also likely to order a starter or dessert, but will demure in less comfortable company or when trying to impress.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: chartreauxx

                                            Happy Birthday!

                                            and Godspeed on your return to health in all aspects.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              thank you so much! overall it's a process going well, but sometimes the commentary (voiced or otherwise) of society can be a challenge :-) that said, at least now i can truly love my food and every plate isn't a battlefield!

                                            2. re: chartreauxx

                                              Charteauxx, the last thing any of us--especially anyone in recovery--needs in our lives is a running color commentary on what we choose to eat. I'm sure your age (HAPPY BIRTHDAY) and gender play into this, too, unfortunately. You keep on doing what you need to do to maintain health and peace.

                                              1. re: chartreauxx

                                                Chartreauxx, have a happy birthday, and eat whatever you damn well please!

                                                1. re: chartreauxx

                                                  Happy birthday Chartreauxxx!

                                                  1. re: chartreauxx

                                                    thanks all for the birthday wishes! it was a great birthday - complete with a lovely dinner with my parents, after a trip to the aquarium. the following evening (yesterday) i was also treated to dinner by a blossoming male "friend" and that was also delightful. i appreciate the well-wishes on all fronts :-) this is why CH is the best.

                                                    1. re: chartreauxx

                                                      Happy Belated Birthday! Sounds like you had some fun!

                                                  2. I have friends who do this. Some (the ones who used to have eating disorders) have a complicated relationship with food. Others (the ones who've had gastric bypasses or banding) simply can't eat that much at a sitting. They always let me eat what I want without comment, so I do the same for them. So in addition to the "don't yuck my yum" slogan, I'll propose "don't stare at my fare."

                                                    1. I'm in my mid-40s and thin and I eat exactly what I want regardless of who I'm with (and what I want usually involves copious amounts of deliciousness). Which seems to have worked in my favor: on my first date with my now-husband, I ordered an appetizer, a huge plate of rigatoni alla vodka and dessert. He was so impressed and relieved that I enjoyed my food and didn't order a salad to pick at. :0)

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. TeenHound is 17 and currently qualifies as a small eater when out.

                                                        We lived in Asia from the time she was 3 until 14 -- she has a "healthy American figure" which was considerably fuller and rounder than her Chinese/Korean peers except the Little Emperor boys.

                                                        When out with friends in Beijing, she usually ate only a little. Her explanation to me [whilst raiding the fridge later] was that she valued the conversation over the food. She also had some peers who would show off with money by "Buying a round" of fries or pizza or whatever for the crew, and she thought that was obnoxious.

                                                        NOW when out with friends, she will often order what she wants but then pick at it or box it when she realizes what the others have ordered or are actually eating. Her pet peeve is a gal in her set who orders a salad, picks through that, and then gets BOTH a dessert and a milkshake, but AFTER TeenHound and everyone else has said they're done.

                                                        (Food + Peers) x Teenage years = tough road!

                                                        Kris now in DC/NoVA

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                          Teen years are tough on many levels.
                                                          What an amazing experience growing up!

                                                        2. I think some women only feel relaxed enough to really eat when they are home

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: madeliner

                                                            Agreed. I also think that regardless of age, women who end up with a circle of "frenemies" this is more common.

                                                            I'll freely admit that depending on who I'm with eating with, I will eat differently. Sometimes it's eating lighter than perhaps I 100% want, sometimes it's ordering cheaper or more expensive items. But yeah - I definitely have a number of hang ups when it comes to eating in different public settings. At this point though, I just give myself a break on not being bothered by it rather than try to fix the behavior. If sometimes that means needed a midnight snack, so be it.

                                                          2. So how was the ballet? Did you predict the day? Did you find your wife at midnight in a walking in her sleep eating the kitchen sink coma?

                                                            Does she have any idea how you describe her on an internet forum?

                                                            Maybe you could copy and paste your comments and put them on her breakfast tray, that you deliver her in bed.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Bellachefa

                                                              ouch but I agree with it

                                                              nice post

                                                              1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                I think I've described her glowingly, like the saint she is, if you've paid attention to my posts. I'm just describing a group dynamic phenomena that, apparently, many others observe too. My wife is the most emotionally evolved person I know. She made a liar out of me and had a cheeseburger after the ballet today followed by an ice cream.

                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                  That came across, zackly- you raise an interesting issue and I couldn't pick your wife out of a line up.
                                                                  Cut me a break!

                                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                                    Good for Mrs Z.

                                                                    By the by, does she read the comments we've all made on the thread?

                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                      Sure, why not? I said nothing to disparage her. She would just laugh and say to me in a dismissive way "you've got way too much time on your hands, go walk the dog, weed the garden or do something prooductive"

                                                                2. I don’t think this is solely a woman’s issue. I have a male friend who before eating a restaurant meal divides everything in half, pushes one half to one side of his plate, then eats the other half and takes home what’s left over. He’ll then go home and sit in front of the TV with pint of peanut butter chocolate ice cream. He has a public face and a private face. The public face says I’m abstemious; I’m in control. Privately, he feels free to be self-indulgent. Frankly, I don’t think this kind of behavior (well, except for the dividing the food thing) is all that unusual.

                                                                  1. I belong to a movie meet up group which usually goes out to a restaurant after. Typical chain things like Fridays and such. One woman will only order some type of vegetable derived appetizer. I laugh because she's not the size she is eating that way. That's not to say that chains don't find a way to pack calories into a "healthy" appetizer.

                                                                    I don't like to eat heavy before a show because the last thing I want to when I'm stuffed is sit through a movie.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ebchower

                                                                      Wow, you laugh at a woman in your group because she is fat but doesn't eat much! Here's a wakeup call. There are people who are fat that don't eat all that much. They have medical issues, metabolic issues, thyroid issues. A lot of overweight people don't eat all that much, just as a lot of ultra thin people can eat 6 square meals a day including a pound of bacon, and still not gain weight. To laugh at this woman, who may think you a friend, is sad.

                                                                      1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                        I have been both people that you describe. The thin one that eats a lot, and the heavier one that eats reasonably. I'd like to try the middle!

                                                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                          Added to which, overweight people get snide comments when they do eat even average amounts of food and eye rolls. It's a no win situation for them. Order a coke and people judge, order a diet coke and people laugh about the discrepancy w/ the size.

                                                                        2. re: ebchower

                                                                          Most veggie apps are deep fried and packed with calories and salt.
                                                                          It's not even close to the wisest choice most times, but may seem virtuous to some.
                                                                          Again, it's about what "we" do to see ourselves in the eyes of others.

                                                                          1. re: ebchower

                                                                            The fat woman should just walk around with an attached feedbag so that people know she's not trying to kid herself by ordering a salad.

                                                                          2. I have frequently observed this type of behavior among female friends and engage in it myself ("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."), but I think your hypothesized explanation is all wrong ("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.")

                                                                            For me, it has everything to do with weight and appearance, yes, but nothing to so with others' perceptions, be it about my hearty appetite or "low class." I have struggled with my weight my entire life, and it is a combination of both physical (I've had metabolic testing; my genes are doing me no favors) as well as emotional factors. As an adult, I have managed to maintain a slender figure by watching what I eat and exercising, both to an extent far more than the average person. I find that when I eat out it is quite difficult to gauge the amount of calories in a dish. So if I cannot "afford" a high calorie meal that evening, I will order accordingly. The opposite is true as well; if I abstained earlier in the week or had a particularly good workout, I may choose to indulge more. In either case, what others may think of me or my order never factors into the equation. Frankly, I couldn't care less.

                                                                            1. If you get a chance to check out today's The Chew opening, do- the panel are discussing this very topic and the women both agree they eat like birds, or think they should, when out with their friends.
                                                                              Interesting and timely ;-)

                                                                              1. I'm 50ish. College educated, mainly "professional" jobs.

                                                                                West Coast native, currently living in the Midwest USA.

                                                                                I've spent most of my adult life hanging out with fellow cyclists, long-distance runners, and hikers/backpackers.

                                                                                We, as a group, consume a LOT of food.

                                                                                No delicate eaters here.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                  Fascinating proof of the "eat like your companions" argument.

                                                                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                    This is funny. Many of the competitive cyclists I know are pretty obsessive about their weight. The males more so than the females, actually.

                                                                                    1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                      LOL @ the male cyclists. So true. Plus they shave their legs more often!

                                                                                      Still...both genders eat A LOT when racing....compared to the "eat like a bird" mentality.

                                                                                      High quality calories vs. junk calories usually.

                                                                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                        I used to ride a lot myself and met my wife in a local bike club. There is one guy in the group who is quite heavy but was is one of the strongest riders in the club. The classic fat & fit body. He would regularly drop guys half his age and weight. I used to take Spinning classes with him and he would stand during the entire class and when he was done there would be a puddle under his bike the size of Lake Superior. He ate as hard as he rode too, unbelievable quantities of food.

                                                                                  2. not really "women" but I do get annoyed during school lunch with girls when wont if there are boys at our table. Seriously? when do we start this unhealthy relationship with food ladies?

                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                      that's the sad part -- the marketing is so intrinsic in life that it starts when we're tiny, tiny girls -- a lot younger than you.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        what's the sad part? the same thing happened decades ago. nothing has changed. people who think it is sad have dropped the ball. no reason to blame this generation, as it has been an issue for decades - even before photo shopping

                                                                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                          I didn't say anything at all about when it started, nor did I blame any particular generation.

                                                                                          I'm likely older than girloftheworld's mom -- and it's been around since my childhood. I bought into it...I dieted and exercised myself nearly right into the hospital.

                                                                                          I can rail against it and try to control it in my own life, but unless you know something I don't, I didn't drop the ball, and yes, I can be sad because until there are enough of us, it's going to continue.

                                                                                          There's at least been a beginning of some awareness of how completely messed up this is -- Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty is a prime example.....but it takes society as a whole to stop it.

                                                                                      2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                        I think the not eating around boys starts at about the same time that girls begin to take a romantic interest in boys. Hopefully they will grow out of it within a year or so.

                                                                                        1. re: pamf

                                                                                          but it doesn't -- I have known dozens of women throughout my adult life (and guys who have dated dozens more of them) who pick and push a salad around their plate because they want the guy to think she's something she's not.

                                                                                          I've also known lots of these women to go home and raid the fridge or call for a pizza because they starved themselves on their date...so they stuff their face when they're alone.

                                                                                          see my similar note upthread.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            On a date/ first time hanging out with a likéd guy, TeenHound
                                                                                            1) thinks about the cost of what the guy'll have to buy for her
                                                                                            2) thinks she's a sloppy eater
                                                                                            3) is too nervous to really BE hungry anyway
                                                                                            4) comes home with her emotions and stomach in a knot no matter what happens and Definitely Needs To Eat.

                                                                                            1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                              Ugh...I was having a conversation today about how people say oh, it's so easy to be a teenager. And no, it's not.

                                                                                              Bless her heart...hopefully the nerves and self-consciousness about being sloppy will leave with age and experience.

                                                                                              And bless *your* heart for teaching her to be considerate about what her date is spending.

                                                                                      3. Hopefully, at 11:00pm, you'll have something good waiting in the fridge for her.
                                                                                        If you already know the routine, you should have been prepared for it.

                                                                                        40 years of "blissful" marriage talking here..... Or, as I like to say, 40 years into a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: zippypinhead

                                                                                          I like this

                                                                                          I would add that if it was me I would have prepared for it before I left (I have done this)

                                                                                          it's too crucial a situation to leave up to chance and / or husbands

                                                                                          only because I am more comfortable eating at home and would rather enjoy my food in a nice cozy place

                                                                                          eating with family is a whole other animal :) and much more fun

                                                                                        2. I'm 55, and my friends range from 50-75. Often, we order "lightly" because we are busy chatting, and don't have a lot of time to eat! Appetizers and salad can be great choices because the temperature at consumption doesn't affect our enjoyment so much as say, grilled or poached halibut :)

                                                                                          1. My thoughts are this -
                                                                                            I'll eat lightly in a restaurant because I can't control the amount of fat that goes into the food at a restaurant.

                                                                                            I might get home and eat more food but stuff that is not a rich. I eat a fairly low fat diet. Sometimes I will get sick from restaurant food because my stomach can't handle the fat..

                                                                                            1. There is nothing worse than being overly full and having to walk a distance in the heat. I'd get sick myself.

                                                                                              Also, If I'm catching up with a friend and we haven't seen each other in a while are are gabbing to much to really put away any quantity of food.

                                                                                              1. I remember doing this when I was a young thing and dating. Back then I weighed 2 pounds, so I really couldn't eat a lot even if I wanted to. Those days are over! ;)

                                                                                                When I met my future husband I knew he was 'the one' because I could go out to eat with him and pig out if I wanted to without worrying about it. :)

                                                                                                Girlfriends, hmmm. Most of mine are 'hounds so it doesn't apply. I do have one friend who doesn't eat a lot. I plead guilty to having my leftovers boxed when eating out with her... and finishing them off as soon as I get home. :D

                                                                                                Women and food. There's a complicated relationship for sure!

                                                                                                1. It depends. My peers range from very slim to beefy gals (that would be me), and we all eat heartily...but that's not to say some women out there don't pick, for whatever reason. Kind of like some (but not all) guys who, in the company of just guys, drink way more than when in mixed company (think golf trips).

                                                                                                  Never thought of eating heartily as a lower class thing...and I'm the white collar baby girl of blue collar parents in a family where lots of folks "came over on the boat". :-)

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                    Maybe we're evolving and it will be more of a guy thing too. Young guys today feel they need a hard body with six pack abs to be attractive to the ladies. They workout hard and watch their diets. Thank goodness I came of age in the sixties when guys like Woody Allen were considered sexy.

                                                                                                    1. re: zackly

                                                                                                      A funny guy trumps a guy with 6 pack abs every time in my book! :)

                                                                                                      1. re: thingmaker

                                                                                                        Most women I've met never read that book

                                                                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                                                                          Egad then you're hanging out with the wrong women!

                                                                                                          1. re: zackly

                                                                                                            Oh gee whiz, I didn't mean to start an internet firestorm! Just speaking from personal experience. :)

                                                                                                      2. " 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?"

                                                                                                        No. This is where stereotypes come from--someone notices this happening with one case. Looks for similar examples but disregards outliers. Concludes it's fact. Maybe it's not just your wife in that group who is matching the group but everyone else, too.

                                                                                                        I have never met anyone who thinks that eating heartily is a negative lower class thing. Have you asked your wife if she does it for that reason?

                                                                                                        32 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                          <<I have never met anyone who thinks that eating heartily is a negative lower class thing.>>

                                                                                                          While I have never met anyone who specifically says that, given the way that I've heard people speak about buffets such as the Golden Corral and places with large portions like the Cheesecake Factory - I'd disagree. The notion that 'eating for value' is strictly related to large portion sizes, I've definitely heard remarked upon in a classist way. Not so much of a rich/poor way - but even in the sense of pigging out in a luxury buffet in Las Vegas as being "unclassy".

                                                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                            That's a good point--I was using class as a socioeconomic factor, not as manners go. I don't know how the OP intended it and assumed it was socioeconomic class.

                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                              I think that there definitely is a socioeconomic dig in there - if anything along the lines of "new money" not being able to "buy class".

                                                                                                              That being said, I would say in the US (and this is my observation that I think if I did some digging I could back up with research....but I'll admit I'm not doing that) being overweight is now often associated as being a marker or stereotype of a certain kind of person from a lower socioeconomic class. And within this perceptions of eating fast food, eating at buffets, eating country fair style food, etc. are all lumped together.

                                                                                                              I am NOT saying this as a statement of fact. But I think that it's fair to say that it is a real perception held by people and that it impacts their behavior.

                                                                                                          2. re: chowser

                                                                                                            On a recent fact-finding mission to a Golden Corral (spurred by a post here on CH), I was the only "normal-sized" person in the place, including children. This sort of experience might be why some people associate hearty eating with "lower class."

                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                              There are far more factors at play that the average person at Golden Corral is obese vs the example that cresyd gives about the high end buffets so I don't know if hearty eating is socioeconomicthan hearty eating. At Golden Corral, people are filling up on far less healthy foods than they are at high end buffets. Although for people who only look at the surface, I guess that could be a conclusion. That said, I can't remember anyone ever calling hearty eating a low class thing.

                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                Chowser, meet Mammy. She's a fictional character, sure, but this is what she thinks of hearty eating (one caveat - her attitude might be a century or so out of date):

                                                                                                                "Ef you doan care 'bout how folks talks 'bout dis fainbly, Ah does," she rumbled. "Ah ain' gwine stand by an' have eve'ybody at de pahty sayin' how you ain' fotched up right. Ah has tole you an' tole you dat you kin allus tell a lady by dat she eat lak a bird. An' Ah ain' aimin' ter have you go ter Mist' Wilkes' an' eat lak a fe'el han' an' gobble lak a hawg."

                                                                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                                                                  This was what, about the time when women bragged about having a 13" waist, right? And wore corsets to get there? Fun times!

                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                    I'd like to bring back the corset. I'm too lazy for ab work. And Scarlett O'Hara's waist was 17" (the smallest in three counties). But people were smaller overall back then.

                                                                                                                    1. re: small h

                                                                                                                      Really? I thought Mammy was pretty full figured.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                        it's from the time period during which corsets were fashionable.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                          Mammy was allowed to be full-figured because she wasn't the face (and body) of the O'Hara family. Plus, she had enough to deal with, being a slave and all.

                                                                                                                          1. re: small h

                                                                                                                            Reinforcing the OP's demographic claim.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                              Yes, that was my point. I was responding to chowser's post, upthread: "That said, I can't remember anyone ever calling hearty eating a low class thing."

                                                                                                                              1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                So...Mammy, factional character from 100+ years ago, aside, I can't remember anyone saying that. ;-) "No, I can't go to Rays the Steak because the sizes are so large that it would make me appear lower class."

                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                  Well, you've got me there. I've never heard any living person express that sentiment either.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                    I've made my point about portions and class above - but the mention of a steakhouse brings to mind all of those steakhouses/restaurants that target women. One of the 'selling points' is a "she-sized" steak portion (i.e. smaller).

                                                                                                                                    Now these places have gotten LOTS of backlash, but if the point is that there is a stereotype/perception that lots of people buy into and promote - this puts it into context.


                                                                                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                      Ugh, yes, sexism is alive and well even (or especially) in the restaurant world.

                                                                                                                2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                  Like I said earlier my wife has zero issues with food. She just goes along with the will of the crowd. I disagree and definitely think this type of behavior a "class" thing with it more prevalent in more highly educated and wealthier circles.

                                                                                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                    Good luck figuring out the motivations of people of the feminine persuasion. I'm one of them and it still mystifies me sometimes. :)

                                                                                                                    1. re: thingmaker

                                                                                                                      It really helps to treat them as individuals and not one big same thinking group:-)

                                                                                                                    2. re: zackly

                                                                                                                      "I disagree and definitely think this type of behavior a "class" thing with it more prevalent in more highly educated and wealthier circles."

                                                                                                                      Are you a member of those circles?

                                                                                                                      wow I had no idea /sarc

                                                                                                                      1. re: madeliner

                                                                                                                        I aspire to be a member. You can't be too rich or too thin in my book!

                                                                                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                          You and Gloria.
                                                                                                                          She looks mahvelous.

                                                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                            I think that was Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor (and the woman for whom Edward VIII abdicated the throne)

                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                              ♫ I danced with a man,
                                                                                                                              who danced with a girl,
                                                                                                                              who danced with the Prince of Wales ♫

                                                                                                                      2. re: zackly

                                                                                                                        What I'm saying is maybe everyone else in the group is also a follower like your wife and no one has stepped up to do something different. Yes, it's probably only people who have more than enough food who play these types of food games.

                                                                                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                          She has zero issues with food, she's just embarrassed to eat it in public. Okay.

                                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                            Not at all embarrassed, like I said, she just goes along with the crowd. As my 90 y/o Dad once said to me "she's a good eater".

                                                                                                                            1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                              The question is what if all the other women feel the same way she does and everyone would prefer to eat a whole meal (I mean, they're in NYC! There is so much good food there) but everyone is afraid to speak up? Why is voicing an opinion so difficult? I think that is more of an issue than hearty eating being considered low class.

                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                Exactly. I find it strange that a grown woman is so passive.

                                                                                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                  I can't imagine having a circle of friends where I'm afraid to do what I want because I'd be judged as low class. But then this is CH and not Real Housewives.

                                                                                                                      3. Has anyone considered that Mrs. Z may have had a big lunch, wasn't hungry après ballet, but BECAME hungry again later?

                                                                                                                        1. I'm in my 30s and my get togethers with my girlfriends all revolve around food. The more the better. We've been known to eat at 2-3 different places in one night.

                                                                                                                          1. I am in my late 20s and many of my girlfriends meetings revolve around food (we love to eat and try new things). If anyone gets a salad, it is usually me (I love salad) with dressing on the side because I hate soggy salad. This never affects my friend’s choices – they always seem to go for whatever they want. Usually a big burger, pasta, steak – whatever they want! My girls are great, never calorie counting (you should have seen them at ribfest this year)!
                                                                                                                            However, on the flip side if I am out on business with a client I usually try to conform to what the they are eating / drinking. Once had a client order a small appetizer only, I did the same but I was so hungry I went out to eat on my own right after.

                                                                                                                            1. I'm an urban professional woman, albeit younger than your wife. This is definitely not something I notice. Sometimes I order small--I tend to be a grazer and generally, I find more appetizers interesting that entrees--but I never leave a (good) restaurant hungry for appearances sake. I find this degree of self-consciousness sad, actually.

                                                                                                                              29 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                Agreed it's sad but it's very common apparently.

                                                                                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                  It's not something I've witnessed, personally. I wouldn't say it's common at all.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                    Why does it seem common when most women on this board have disagreed with you. It might be just common for your wife and her friends who follow the crowd. Only eating behind closed doors is not common. In fact, I'm more likely to eat more w/ friends than alone.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                      C'mon, many comics do routines about this behavior. Eddie Murphy immediately comes to mind. I think one of his routines is called Salad B*Z%c#es. I would say the posters disagree with me 65/35% so it's not like other people don't see it too.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                        Okay, since you already seem convinced that women are like that then why ask and then disregard the majority of answers that are contrary to your view? I mean if Eddie Murphy has a stand up routine to it, it must be true. And men are absolute doofuses who can't do anything but sit in front of the TV because comics do routines on that?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                          Has Eddie Murphy even done stand up in the last 25 years?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                            Humor is funny because there's always a component of truth in it. I threw this topic out as a topic because it's interesting to discuss.It apparently hit a nerve with many women. I've gained some insight but I haven't changed my mind that it exists and is not uncommon.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                              You didn't hit a nerve. In fact, you missed the mark completely.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                Do you think it hit a nerve because women *gasped* disagreed? You probably should have left out "is this true" in your OP since you are convinced of it. Yes, all yuppie older women are afraid to eat in front of others and do it in hiding for fear of appearing lower class. Sounds like a really sad life to me.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                              Okay, so what was your question then? You seem to already have an answer and everyone else is wrong.

                                                                                                                                              If you want to believe all women are as passive and self-conscious as your wife, knock yourself out.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                I'm not lumping "all women" together in any way, shape or form. Everyone has their own opinions shaped by their experience and usually think they are correct. I've observed this behavior and was asking if other people, men or women, did too. And why are you attacking my wife as "passive and self conscious"? That couldn't be further from the truth. She's a nice lady that is universally loved and admired, strong & empathetic.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                  So strong that she fears ordering an entree will designate her as "lower class"?

                                                                                                                                                  Whatever you say.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                    Go back and really read my posts. Why all the anger?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                      zackly, the the NAF board.
                                                                                                                                                      NAF board, meet zackly.

                                                                                                                                                      (ugh, it's just utterly too predictable)

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                    I'm shocked it took this long for ad hominem attacks on your wife by people who don't know her, and twist YOUR words.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                        Thank you! I was beginning to think I was the crazy one. Some people can't discuss, with any sort of civility, a controversial issue without name calling. I was channel surfing last night & landed on Hannity. He had two guests discussing the Hobby Lobby birth control; issue and both talked over each other constantly. Neither listened to the other's opinion one iota. If it wasn't so sad it would have been hysterical. My next topic is going to be "why do men in groups eat, drink, swear & smoke cigars to excess?" I'm in a much better position to comment on that.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                          This issue is not controversial. As many others and I pointed out, being afraid to order an entree when dining with friends due to being perceived as low-class is a non-existent issue in their life.

                                                                                                                                                          OP: Is this true?
                                                                                                                                                          Majority: No, it's not
                                                                                                                                                          OP: YES IT IS

                                                                                                                                                          That's how the "discussion" looks from over here.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                            Man, I never realized than this many women had serious issues around food. Many thanks for the edification!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                              What are these "serious issues", exactly?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                This is getting tedious. As Bob Dylan wrote:
                                                                                                                                                                You’re right from your side
                                                                                                                                                                I’m right from mine
                                                                                                                                                                We’re both just one too many mornings
                                                                                                                                                                An’ a thousand miles behind

                                                                                                                                                                Maybe we should agree to disagree. I was thinking of saying something dismissive, sexist & condescending like "haven't you got something else to do like taking your cake out of the oven" but this is Chowhound and I DO have a cake in the oven:)

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                                No we have issues with people who making sweeping judgments and categorize people into "classes"

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                              That'll be a barn burner, sure to make heads explode!

                                                                                                                                                            3. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                              Considering your first response to the thread, it's interesting that you've gone here:


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                Ah, close, but not really.
                                                                                                                                                                Read: "sounds like".
                                                                                                                                                                I was not correct in my assumption, and z corrected me, and with CLARITY, I continued the conversation.

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for taking such time to do that detective work so I could clarify.

                                                                                                                                                                "If you want to believe all women are as passive and self-conscious AS YOUR WIFE, knock yourself out."

                                                                                                                                                                Now there's a declarative statement.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                  You're right. It's totally normal (and assertive and self-possessed) to be afraid to order a meal in a restaurant for fear of being judged low class by one's friends. And all women feel this way and the man is correct, of course. My mistake.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm sorry, I can't follow your logic and can not stand straw men, so I'm just going to part ways with your posts and not respond.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                            I have noticed that men of a certain age (50+) and income level (not low class) decide they are right and refuse to listen to anything that might contradict their ideas. Look at our government. There are even comedy routines based on this. It must be true.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                              Now we're really off to the races.
                                                                                                                                                              Where's my popcorn?

                                                                                                                                                  3. I haven't read all the posts, but I'm mid 50's, and neither large or small, but in the last several years find I can never eat as much as I'd like when I'm out. It NEVER goes well if I start with bread, or have a beverage before the appetizer course. I can eat an appetizer, but rarely more than a third of the entree, ESPECIALLY if there is a wait of say 20 minutes between courses. I cannot stand that feeling of being too full, especially if I have to bend at the waist and sit for a long ride home. Doesn't stop me from ordering though, a pork chop, a ribeye, because I know I will enjoy it much more, later that evening, and maybe some the next day, too.

                                                                                                                                                    Last night I had a dozen oysters, half a lemonade, and a bit of my daughters cheese, then my berkshire pork chop and polenta took 20 minutes to come out. I ate a few bites then, and a few bites of husbands tres leches cake, and several more a few hours later. Going to finish it for lunch.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Well its almost the 4th so the fireworks must be getting ready to start so I will add my fuel to this fire.

                                                                                                                                                      In my view class has nothing to do with the proposed scenario. We live in NYC. My wife is younger then the OP's wife. My wife is an highly educated (3 post college degrees) urban professional. She is fit and active and loves to eat. She has a large circle of female professional friends that she goes out with on a regular basis. From what I have observed, these women have no problem drinking and eating until they are full and at times quite tipsy. Just last week she went out with 3 other women where they apparently went through several bottles of wine over the course of a 3 hour meal. The next morning when she was looking at the charge receipt for her split of the bill, she couldn't believe how much she had spent. I asked her what they ate and drank. After she recounted the evening's meal, it was clear why the bill was so large. No fear of eating from these women. You can't draw generalizations about women or men as a whole from such limited circumstances. The only generalization you can validly reach is about the people you know. So I have to point out that the OP drew the original negative conclusion about women and his wife's motivations. I don't see it that way. Lots of factors at play here but class is the least of it.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Folks, not surprisingly, this is not going well. We're going to lock it now.