CW: eating disorders.
No two people have the same relationship with nutrition and fitness.
For some people, it comes naturally, and they manage to eat right and stay fit with little to no effort.
For others, it’s much more of a challenge, and often rely on others to help them out.
While friends and family always want to stand in solidarity with those who need their help, there are still limits to how much help they are able to give.
The stepdaughter of Redditor Mobile_Watercress_12 had recently made a significant effort to improve her health and eating habits.
As a result, when she saw her stepbrother, the original poster (OP)’s son, snacking on a salty treat, she did not appreciate it at all… even going so far as to accuse the OP of sabotage.
Resulting in some tense words between the OP and her stepdaughter.
Wondering if she was out of line, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for telling my stepdaughter she needs to grow up and stop expecting everyone else to cater to her diet because she wants to lose weight?”
The OP explained how her son’s enjoyment of a snack ended up causing a considerable rift in her relationship with her stepdaughter.
“I (45 F[emale]) have been a stepmother to Lucy (17 F) for the past two years.”
“I also have a son, Jack (15 M[ale]) from my previous relationship.”
“For the first 18 months that I knew Lucy, she was in love with junk food.”
“She would use the money she would get from babysitting the neighbors’ kids to buy cookies, chips, ice cream all the time.”
“It was very unhealthy how much of that crap she was eating.”
“I tried to politely encourage her to switch to something healthier that still tasted good like yogurt that she would always respond with ‘you’re not my mom’ and ‘stop controlling my body.'”
“Because of this, she’s put on a lot of weight.”
“Anyway about six months ago, she got into an argument with a boy in school.”
“They called each other names, and he ended up calling her a hippo.”
“That made her really self-conscious, and she’s been trying to improve her health since then.”
“She threw out all the junk food we had at home and tries to exercise 3-4 times a week.”
“She’s been making steady progress, and I’m happy that she’s been taking care of herself.”
“My son, however, has recently taken a liking to Doritos chips.”
“He doesn’t eat a lot of it.”
“Maybe a packet every other week.”
“He mostly eats it in his room, so Lucy hasn’t seen him eating them.”
“But a couple of days ago, he was watching a TV show downstairs, and he decided to eat his chips.”
“I was cooking in the kitchen, but then I heard an argument, so I ran out to figure out what was going wrong.”
“Lucy was mad at Jack for eating chips and told him to throw it out because she’s trying to lose weight.”
“My son said he can eat whatever he wants.”
“I tried to calmly tell Lucy that Jack is allowed to eat in a common space, and if what he’s eating is tempting her, she can nicely ask him to put it away, or she can go to another room until he finishes if he declines her request.”
“That just made her angrier, and she accused me of ‘playing favorites’ and ‘sabotaging’ her progress.”
“This pissed me off because I’ve done nothing but support her these past few months.”
“I firmly told her she’s almost 18 and she needs to grow up and accept that not everyone will follow her diet, especially in their own homes.”
“She cried to her mom, who’s now blowing up my phone, calling me a b*tch for not supporting her daughter.”
“My husband, her dad, is on my side, but after sleeping on it, I think I could have used a gentler tone.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
The Reddit community was fairly divided on whether or not they thought the OP was the a**hole for the way the OP spoke to her stepdaughter.
Some felt that the OP was justified in her remarks, even if a few felt that if the OP felt bad about her tone, she should apologize and try to ease the situation, with others thinking the OP’s stepdaughter might need some professional help with her diet/weight loss plan.
“Her being on a diet doesn’t mean other people diet as well.”
“If she can’t eat chips, that’s fine.”
“It doesn’t sound like other people are trying to force her to eat them.”
“But if her argument is ‘I’m on a diet, so chips can’t be in the house,’ that only flies if it’s her house.”
“If she wants to control what food is her residence, then she would need to be the sole person paying for the residence.”- 7hr0wn
“Look, in terms of the general topic of the conflict, you’re NTA.”
“But it sounds like your concern is that you might have used some hurtful phrasing or tone and simply could have handled it better, even if you’re in the right on the general topic, and that’s something I don’t think this sub is in a position to judge.”
“It’s too context-specific, and tone doesn’t come across in text.”- hitchinpost
“But she should be talking to both her physician and a therapist as well as a dietician if she wants actually to do this in a healthy and sustainable manner.”
“If she actually has some kind of ED, then it might be very helpful in the short term to minimize her exposure to trigger foods, but that doesn’t mean everyone has to follow her diet or completely remove those trigger foods from the house.”- revmat
“She’s learning to manage her health, and that’s great, but she doesn’t get to dictate to other people because she’s following a specific diet.”
“Holding the entire house hostage because she’s tempted isn’t in any way appropriate.”- IamIrene
“But it is a red flag you were pleased that she was so traumatized by a classmate insulting her appearance that she completely changed her diet to the point where food is a trigger.”
“You should be more concerned that your stepdaughter could be developing an eating disorder.”-heppyheppykat
Others felt that the OP needed to be more sympathetic with how she handled the situation, even if they still agreed that her stepdaughter had no right to get as angry as she did about the OP’s son eating Doritos.
“Teenager gains weight after a change in her home dynamic. Her stepmother thinks it appropriate to comment on it, the teenager has sudden drastic idea of dieting, which seems to involve significant restriction.”
“Put two and two together here.”- BartokTheBat
“Lucy goes from eating junk food constantly and gaining a lot of weight quickly after you moved into somebody making fun of her, and now she’s suddenly dieting extremely to the point where even seeing other people eating that food is triggering to her and NOBODY thought that maybe she had an eating disorder?”
“Nobody parsed out that maybe she was eating more because she just had a large shift in family dynamics not too long ago and could be stressed/upset?”
“You say that when you tried to talk to her about it the first time, she was immediately defensive, and now she’s set off by somebody even eating junk food while she’s trying to get healthy.”
“These are concerning behaviors around food, and somehow nobody has thought to sit her down and maybe ask why food is a touchy topic for her?”
“Sounds like everybody in this story aside from brother has some growing up to do.”-pastapearldesaucer
While a few had trouble finding any sympathy with the OP, feeling that she wasn’t showing sufficient support to her stepdaughter.
“You’ve supported her in her weight loss journey only because you didn’t like that she was getting fat.”
“You didn’t support her by telling her to disregard the mean things a boy said about her body and that she should love herself.”
“Telling her to leave the room to avoid food is going to give her a complex, and I wouldn’t doubt she’s on her way to an eating disorder if her current relationship with food is so toxic.”- UncreativeTeam
It’s clear that getting a hold of her health and well-being is going to be a challenge for the OP’s daughter, and even the tiniest things have the potential to trigger her.
However, while seeing Doritos in the house was a temptation she didn’t need, it seemed that it would take a lot more than everyone else in the household to stick to her diet.
One can only hope that after some time to reflect and some civil conversations, the OP and her husband can find the OP’s stepdaughter the help she needs to find a successful plan.
We wish them all well.