Hi, My Name is Pseudo-Sally, in Recovery

Friends and family alike have always teased me about being a picky eater.

Long before my disordered eating issues began, I was a picky eater, often related to my body’s intolerance to certain foods (I have I.B.S. which flares up with creamy foods, tomato-based foods, etc.)

And once I joined Weight Watchers in 2004, and began paying closer attention to what I ate, the I.B.S. flare-ups subsided (although not entirely).

Then, as I learned more about nutrition … I became even more picky/selectively restrictive, for different reasons (i.e., disordered ones).

(In case you’re curious, in Spanish, the word is “pilosa” — yea, I’ve been called that, too).

In the beginning, I was a little embarrassed to order, since I always felt like Sally in When Harry Met Sally — as in, “I’ll have the BBQ chicken but with the sauce on the side and instead of the loaded sweet potato I’d like it dry and could I get steamed veggies instead of with the special sauce?”

But having waited tables during semester breaks in college, I had seen pretty much every type of customer: with allergies, dietetic preferences, personal preferences … so I never felt too bad about being so picky.

Still, I always felt like my dining companions were internally rolling their eyes at my myriad of requests … and I never wanted anyone to feel like just because I ordered this way, that I cared how they ordered. (Frankly, it’s a lot easier to order something “as is”!)

And so I’ve long struggled with two conflicting frames of mind. One, that my body is my temple and I should just get what I want, how want it … and two, I could just order something “as is” and only eat a little of it. Being someone who likes to eat, I almost always prefer to order something I can eat in full and enjoy — which means being picky/pilosa.

Which brings me to today.

I’m traveling for work and had breakfast with two (male) co-workers at the airport in Minneapolis this morning (from where I’m blogging as we speak).

I ordered the 1-egg/3 egg white omelet (but asked for all whites, since I prefer whites) with spinach, scallions and goat cheese; dry toast (I like to add my own butter/jelly),  no roasted red peppers (do not like them, never have).

My order came out 1-egg/3 whites, with roasted red peppers, and the toast had butter on it.

The old Melissa would have freaked out, sent it back, and driven my server crazy. Being I wasn’t with my mom or husband or best friend (i.e., someone who knows me super-well) I didn’t say a word … even when the waitress realized the whole order had been wrong and offered to re-make it.

Why? Well, I didn’t want to make a scene, and I also didn’t want to wait for another meal (I was hungry). Plus, I figure the extra fat might help sustain me for the long day of traveling.

So I just picked out the red peppers, ate only 1/2 the omelet, and enjoyed the slice of sourdough toast as it was. And you know what? I felt fine. Satisfied.

Sometimes it’s nice to just “be,” to allow myself to “cross a bridge when I get to it” versus over-dramatizing something unnecessarily. I think, ultimately, there’s a time and place. I so rarely order anything “as is” and really doubt this one time will kill me.

And when I have moments like this, I genuinely feel like I’m making significant progress.

Let’s see how the rest of the time goes  (at this conference, all meals are pre-planned).

I just need to remember to use my head, and to have faith that I am better than I was a year ago and I am, in fact, on the mend.

How about you? How do you order?  Do you send food back? How do others react to how you order, and does it matter to you?

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13 thoughts on “Hi, My Name is Pseudo-Sally, in Recovery

  1. For me it’s not just about calories. If I’m paying for something, I want it right. Why pay for what you didn’t order? Why spend money on what you didn’t want? Especially if it was their error?

    1. Kate, if I were paying I probably would have made a bigger deal. But given the context (with colleagues, male colleagues at that) I chose to just eat a little and suck it up.

  2. I order in a very precise and exacting way-yes, I will send something back if it’s not the way I ordered it-dressing must always be on the side and fish or chicken must be broiled or steamed with no sauce, etc. I don’t care what anyone else thinks-it takes work to look good and this is part of the job…

    1. Lisa, I agree with you — and most of the time, feel the same. But sometimes, we need to learn to be flexible and for me, that’s what this experience was about. It seems you would have sent it back; I would have under ordinary circumstances, too. But sometimes, it’s OK to just “be”–I’m learning.

  3. good for you even tho i would have expected the food i ORDERED you made a rationl decision about it!! i know dining for me in general i hard so always stick to something safe i wan and ill eat to cause less fuss and starring( i always think people stare at me eatng)

  4. I’m Sally through and through. I have IBS too and certain things irritate my digestive systems. Besides my opinion is if I’m paying to eat it I want it the way I want it. I have been known to send things back but there are times I just order as is if I’m splurging. I’ve learned to balance these two sides of me.

  5. omg, i am sally too! in fact, i always laugh and say that to the waitress or whoever i’m out with before i order. i honestly don’t know what my friends think, i never really thought about it.

    i never get anything “as is” for i’m very fussy too. i like to keep things very plain and simple so (of course!) i will be able to easily figure out how many calories i’m having. i too will never order anything “as is” for fear that i will not be able to stop eating it, plus the fear of not knowing all the ingredients so i can’t accurately count the calories. and yes, i have sent food back if the dressing was already on the salad and other stuff like that.
    you should be walking in the clouds right now after taking the huge step that you did! i’m in awe that a disordered eater did that! and you are right, one meal, of one day, is not going to make a difference in your life. now if only i could take that step too….

  6. I usually order with substitutions/special requests and definitely send things back most of the time if they do not come out right. Like someone above said, it is not always about fat/calories etc it is about how the food will taste. For example I like very little dressing on salad and most places serve it drowning in dressing. That is a special order that frequently gets messed up I have found.

    But over the years I have definitely learned to suck it up sometimes and be OK with not getting how I ordered if say I am short on time, with strangers, etc. It really depends on what was messed up and how badly it was messed up. Also where I am in terms of weight i.e. maintaining, losing etc. Much more likely to send back when in losing mode.

  7. I think it mostly depends on who I am with….I am SO self-conscious of being called out in front of friends for eating “healthy,” I probably wouldn’t send it back – I’d just eat around it. But with family I’d probably send it back – they are used to me and don’t tease. 🙂

    I think that is GREAT and definitely shows how far you’ve come! I ordered something (even with my family) recently, and my sandwich came out with cheese and butter – both of which I had not requested. But you know what? I still ate it. A baby step, sure….but definitely progress from where I’ve been!

  8. Love your story! It is me and I am also on the mend. I use to bring my own salad dressing(the lite italian that had 0 points…pretty gross to me now!) and didn’t care what my friends said. I still ask for stuff on the side but don’t freak if my butter is on my potato…i can always scrape it off….and a little doesn’t hurt anyone. I have had meals where there was mostly fried/unhealthy choices and I just tell myself that I will not gain 500 pounds overnight and my body will adjust tomorrow. It took me a while to get to this point but all the anxiety of worrying over the food actually made me eat more. Good for you for eating it and enjoying that buttered toast! yum!

  9. Love your story and could totally relate. My husband constantly makes fun of me for special ordering. I almost always will send it back (funny how food is the one thing that I stand up for myself about) if we are out to eat, but always feel self concious about what the people around me are thinking. Going out with people from work also makes it even tougher. I find it really hard when we are at someone’s house for a dinner party; I can only use the not feeling that well excuse so many times….sigh….I just try to remind myself that it’s not the end of the wolrd and have a piece of humble pie!
    Thanks for sharing your story – it really is a sign of progress for you and inpiration for me!

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