Are social niceties part of our obesity problem?
It’s hard not to giggle to yourself when you think of the sketch from Father Ted where Pauline McLynn, a.k.a. the famous Mrs. Doyle, insists on tea and cakes for the priests in her care. The hilarity comes from that fact that something so absurd is actually pretty normal here and we’ve all seen it before.
At the moment we’re doing some research on food related behaviour on the island. Something that our focus group participants said really struck a chord with me.
“Anyone that would come in would have a cup of tea and you might give them something, you would. I don’t think you’d ever have nothing on the table.”
Social norms mean that even if you want to avoid eating biscuits and cakes yourself, you probably feel obliged to have them in the house in case guests drop by for tea. Is that true? Think about the last time you went shopping when you had guests coming to the house. Did the content of your trolley differ greatly from what you would normally buy?
We’re not saying you can’t have something nice every now and then, or that you shouldn’t spoil your guests. That’s part of the fun. One strategy might be to have a couple of small cakes for one, or individually wrapped biscuits. Then you won’t feel the need to polish the rest of it off after the guests have left.
Okay now, deep breath. I’m going to say it.
- We do not have to force feed our guests, lest they go hungry. They might just not be hungry!
- It is not an insult for a guest to refuse your food
- You are not insulting your host if you refuse their food
There. I’ve said it. Let me know what you think. Go on, go on, go on ...