eating with friends

Food Enablers

I’ve been a fan of the Howard Stern Show for like 15 years. What people may be surprised about is that Howard is a health food fanatic and also a runner. He cares about his body and keeping fit. Robin is famous for her wacky fad diets (the maple syrup/lemon juice concoction and then the green drink fads). Well, there are two people on the show that do not care about their health–in fact, they LOVE fast food. Love is a weak word, I’d say more obsessed with it.

John Hein and Jason Kaplan are the most vocal about their love for fast food. In fact, they host a show on Sirius entirely about Fast Food AND they eat their favorites on air while they debate what is better. While it’s comical, it’s also a bit disturbing.

Recently Howard teased these guys because they sit in the back office while he’s on the air and have lengthy, involved debates about what fast food is better and where they should all go to lunch that day. These conversations can go on all morning long in preparation for the lunch hour. Then these guys go out to fast food together. Jason discussed at length about everything he puts mayo on.

Howard commented that Jason is “bigger than ever” and I believe that John is diabetic. Yet these things don’t deter them from eating fast food every single day (sometimes multiple times a day). What struck me as the most obvious is that John and Jason were totally feeding off each other’s food addictions. They discussed where they’d be eating and they would go together.

Food enablers are the friends or family that we share bad habits with. We ALL have friends who are the enablers.  These are the people that share our bad habits and feel content to indulge in the bad habits with us because it’s comfortable. We don’t judge each other, it’s safe and easy.

I’ve had food enablers in my life. I had one friend in my mid-twenties that I went clubbing with. While she didn’t really have a weight problem, she loved fast food. After dancing and clubbing Friday and Saturday nights we’d stumble to the nearest Wendy’s or Taco Bell at 2 am (or a Portland favorite: The Hotcake House) and eat a bunch of junk food.

Two of my closest friends have also been “enablers” but we’ve managed the work through that during my weight loss journey and our friendship remained intake despite my change in habits.

BACHELORETTE

When Rachel and I were in high school I remember asking her “Are you hungry?” and her response was “Always.” Or I’d say, “Can you eat?” and she’d say “Definitely.” And we’d happily head over to Beth’s Cafe or Denny’s and squat for hours eating and talking. I still smile from the happy memories of those days. Were these bad habits? Sure. But Rachel was also one of my biggest supporters when I decided to lose 100 pounds and she knew that encouraging me to eat healthy and change my habits was how I’d be successful. She was a true friend that wanted me to be healthy. Our friendship survived my transformation as a result.

My other closest friend, Robyn, wasn’t really a food enabler but she struggled with her weight just like I did. We were both at our heaviest at the same time. While we didn’t encourage each other to eat badly, we both struggled at the same time. It was like having a partner in crime to complain to about weight issues. What I love most about how our relationship changed was that we both lost the weight and kept it off. Not only that, our relationship became about fitness. Whenever we hang out these days it’s usually a gym session together, or a fitness class. I love it and so does Robyn! We both get our workouts in and we can catch up and spend time together. It’s fun to have someone who encourages you to do “a few more squats” or add some weight to the machine. Healthy competition works.

Food Enablers aren’t necessarily evil people. They aren’t always setting us up to fail. Sometimes it’s just the dynamic of the relationship. We all have those friends that fit a certain niche. The friends that we usually go to movies with, the friends we workout with, the friends that like cooking and will happily bring freshly baked cookies to your house, the friends who like to party.

The hard part with Food Enablers is changing the dynamic of the relationship without losing the relationship. Not all of the friendships will remain intact but I think it’s important for health to be the priority.

QUESTION: Do you or have you had food enablers in your life?