Double Dipping Momma…Or How To Bean Dip Your Mother-In-Law

by admin on May 21, 2014

I have a strange query, which I am hoping someone will help me get to the bottom of, as it has plagued me for 2 years now.
My Husband and I both live in Town A, where there are some lovely chain pubs (for those who are American, a pub doesn’t just serve alcohol but food, drinks and usually has a children’s soft play center attached) which serve a full menu in the evening.

My In-laws live in a small village where there is only one ‘food serving’ restaurant. More often than not they come to our Town A to celebrate parties, events and social occasions, which is what happened at the end of March this year.

It is important to note that I am pregnant and suffering from extremely low blood sugar levels and find it difficult to eat a full meal. I have actually lost around 4stone in weight and still have 8 weeks until my due date. Pregnancy has been tough on me physically and mentally and my in-laws are aware of my “food issues”.

It was Mother-in-law’s birthday and my Husband and I had decided to treat her and Father-in-law to a meal at their favorite pub. It was suggested we get a “sharing starter platter” which consists of 4 slices of garlic bread, some chicken wings, popcorn chicken, some small pieces of battered fish, onion rings and several large pots of dip.  Due to my pregnancy I can only eat the bread and chicken items, as onions and fish have been ‘triggers’ for my sickness.

My Husband and I agreed to whatever Mother-in-Law wanted, as it was her birthday celebration. We divvied up the food upon arrival and everyone got stuck in.
Then an issue arose. Mother-in-Law had seen I didn’t want to “dip” my food into the larger pots, but had instead put a small amount of sauce on my plate from a sachet and was using that. My reasoning behind this should be obvious.  I’m pregnant with a low immune system, I had no idea if Mother or Father in law had a cold/were developing a cold. I had no clue if either of them had washed their hands (we arrived shortly after them) and I also know (thanks to a chemical biologist friend) that every time food is “double-dipped”,  over a thousand bacteria are transferred to the dip potentially making the dip full of germs and other nasties. Needless to say Mother and Father in law were both double-triple dipping their foods and Mother- in-Law has a nasty habit of sucking her fingers and sticking them into the pot to retrieve a piece of food that has fallen into the dip, meaning everything in her mouth is now in the sauce. She also bites/chews her fingernails and is not very hygiene aware when it comes to keeping fingernails clean, preferring to bite them down so the “dirt can’t stick under them”.

So instead of eating the “correct” way, I chose to put a little sauce on my plate. Mother-in-Law proceeded to put the pots of dip in front of me and asked me to use them. I declined, and began to explain at which point she shrugged and said, “We’re all family.”

Whilst I agree we are all family, and I usually have a fairly good relationship with my In-laws, I feel I had a reason to not eat “‘communally”‘ from the sauces and it shouldn’t have been pointed out. She also critisized my choice of meal (from the children’s menu) stating I simply wasn’t eating enough. I know I am unable to eat enough for myself and my baby at the moment, which is why my GP has prescribed high-sugar, high-carbohydrate marsh mellow cakes, which I have to eat every 2 hours. I simply wasn’t very hungry and I still struggle to eat an adult sized portion.

We ate our main courses and when dessert was bought out (a chocolate cake, I had baked especially for Mother in Law, as I knew it was her favorite) she proceeded to give me the first slice, saying I was too “germaphobic” to be allowed any other piece as the knife would be “pre-used”. Again, I said nothing and my Husband didn’t hear as he was at the bar settling the bills.

Should I have called her out? Should I have bent to the request to use the communal sauces? Should I have pointed out their germs could endanger our unborn baby? I’m really not sure what is the etiquette approved way to deal with this and would like some tips as this is a regular occurrence. I usually just remain quiet and refuse to get drawn in (bean-dip anyone?) but it’s starting to really bug me as I have 8 weeks of pregnancy left and don’t want my baby exposed to germs and bacteria in this way.   Please help!    0517-14

The answers to your questions are, “No, No, and, No.”   This really isn’t about food sharing or pregnancy or germs but rather the age old problem family members have with each other.  The reality of life is that someone in your family, usually the in-laws, will annoy the bejeebers out of you.  That person will push every button you have.  We all have one of them in the family and that person tests our composure on a routine basis.

The solution is to simply do what you feel you need to do with as little fanfare as possible and ignore the drama.   You certainly do not need to explain to relatives why you happen to put dips on a plate instead of taking it straight out of the dipping pot or give an account of your medical status to justify certain choices.   If MIL’s  behavior is intended to get a rise out of you, you don’t rise to take the bait because that would be rewarding her and despite what people think, etiquette is not always about making people comfortable.   Sometimes uncomfortable is good..such as the awkward silence that follows a rude question or demand that one explains oneself.

If this is a regular occurrence, you should be steeling yourself for the inevitable and by that I mean being prepared to smile benignly and keep on knoshing down on the food with as much gusto as you can manage while murmuring, “This is delicious.  You made such a good choice in food, MIL.”   Just because MIL starts a particular line of discussion does not mean you have to follow.  Power is when you can either ignore it and let the poor topic die a lonely death or you take command and redirect it to a topic you’d rather discuss instead.

 

Nor does your family want to hear you pontificate on the evils of germs and food sharing so zip it.

{ 122 comments… read them below or add one }

Lo May 21, 2014 at 7:48 am

I hate the “we’re all family” excuse when it comes to food sharing.

Being family doesn’t mean I have to share your poor hygiene and bacteria. The only person I will share a double dipped pot with is my spouse; not my parents, not a sibling, not inlaws, and definitely not children. Communicating bacteria between partners is pretty much inevitable. But we don’t have to share our germs with anyone else.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I contracted a long-term contagious illness that I was never able to identify the source of as no one I had contact with had ever had it or seemed to have had exposure to it; most likely it was passed on by a carrier who displayed no symptoms.

Ignore your MIL. Don’t share food with her, she sounds gross to be honest and I would not expose your immune system to that. And don’t let her bait you. Just keep on keeping yourself clean and protected. People are germ farms. You shouldn’t need to explain yourself for wanting to steer clear of that. I’m as full of germs as the next person and I wouldn’t take offense to someone not wanting to share something with me.

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Raven May 22, 2014 at 11:25 am

What I’ve never understood about the “we’re all family” thing is why some people think being related means being fully immune to other people’s germs. “We’re related/married so there’s no possible way we can catch each other’s colds. Science!” um…no.

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Raven May 21, 2014 at 7:55 am

MIL sounds like a piece of work, honestly. The comment about the pre-used knife was just snarky. As for the rest … one hardly needs to be a “germaphobe” to not be down with MIL’s double-dipping, sucked on, chewed-nails-sporting fingers in the food. Gross gross gross.

Congrats on the baby-to-be, OP, and watch your MIL doesn’t double-dip food in baby’s mouth!

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Jelaza May 21, 2014 at 7:58 am

Why would there even be an issue with putting a bit of the sauce on your plate, even if you weren’t pregnant? Many people that I know do it, so people don’t have to keep passing the dips back and forth all the time. And even those that don’t would not use dip that has been double-dipped in, family or not.

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Calli Arcale May 21, 2014 at 11:10 am

In my husband’s family, which is not by any means a germophobic family, the common practice is to put a spoon in the dip and then scoop some dip onto your personal plate so you don’t have to hover over the dip to make good use of it. In my family, you only do that if you want to double-dip, but I actually like my in-laws strategy better. Yeah, it probably wastes a little more dip, but it is more practical because of not having to keep reaching for the dip.

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Shoegal May 22, 2014 at 7:33 am

At the parties I throw this is a common practice. Even if I forget and don’t put a spoon in my dips – one ends up in there anyway.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:09 am

Here I thought that was standard procedure.

Also, you don’t have to worry about pacing, keeping up with the dipping, making sure you don’t bump while reaching for the dip at the same time, and everyone gets an equitable share, even if they eat slowly.

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Green123 May 24, 2014 at 7:57 am

Yes, exactly. My sister eats SOOO quickly – if we all shared communal dips or dishes at family dinners there’s no way the rest of us would get enough to eat competing with her, so we all take a spoonful and put it on our plates.

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Dust Bunny May 29, 2014 at 10:39 am

I’ve never been anywhere that it wasn’t acceptable–standard practice, really–to spoon out a serving of sauce or dip onto your own plate. There is no way I’d share a double-dipped dip with . . . pretty much anyone (I don’t have a spouse or children. Anybody less-closet than that is not close enough). Ugh! MIL sounds like a control freak.

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EllenS May 21, 2014 at 7:58 am

One way of beandipping I like to use is to pretend they are saying something much nicer and answer that.

“Oh, I have all I want, thanks so much.” as if she were just being kind and trying to make sure you’re included.

Or with pregnancy issues, I might say “Oh, you remember how it is when you’re expecting – you never know what’s going to set you off.” But really, as Admin says there is no reason to engage with MIL’s hostility at all.

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just4kicks May 21, 2014 at 8:01 am

Oh, boy! I could fill up pages about my late MIL’ s doing exactly this! But, I’ll just share the one that bothered me the most. My MIL had several dogs, whom she would feed off the table, let the dogs lick her fingers clean, then dip back into the food. I didn’t have to be pregnant for this to gross me out. We had many an argument over me being “high and mighty” and “dogs mouths are cleaner than most humans”. I held my tongue for years until she tried to feed one of my (then) toddlers with the same fingers her dog just licked clean. I told my son “don’t eat that, here, I’ll get you your food from the other (untouched by anyone) side of the platter. My MIL threw a screaming hussy and yelled at me “don’t you DARE tell me NOT to feed my own grandson!!! That dogs mouth is cleaner than your hands!” I countered with, “I sincerely doubt that, since I didn’t lick my own a$$hole before sitting down to dinner!”

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Jewel May 21, 2014 at 10:42 am

Would love to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation! Please tell me that this comment permanently ended MIL’s stance on whose mouth is cleaner?

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just4kicks May 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Sadly, no. All that got me was frozen silence for the rest of the evening, and a huge fight in the car on the way home for my being “obnoxious and rude” to my husband’s dear sainted mother. She still did it every chance she got, but if we were invited for dinner, the kids and I always seemed to have had a big lunch and weren’t hungry. 😉

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NostalgicGal May 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm

oooh I so like that last sentence. Bravo!

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bloo May 21, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Im laughing so hard right now!

Does your DH see clearly now, just4kicks?

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just4kicks May 22, 2014 at 2:41 pm

@Bloo: God forgive me for speaking ill of the dead, but, no. In my husband’s eyes, his mother was a saint, plain and simple. She could do no wrong. In MY eyes….not so much. We had many conflicts over the years, and to preserve my own sanity, I kept my mouth shut unless my kids were somehow affected.

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just4kicks May 21, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Thank you! Didn’t do me any favors, but damn it sure felt GREAT!!!

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just4kicks May 22, 2014 at 2:43 pm

@NostalgicGal: Thank you! I can laugh about it now…at the time I was furious.

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hakayama May 21, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Her own grandson?! She apparently forgot that YOU have first dibs since it had to do with feeding YOUR SON?! The nasty unhinged loon.
As for your idiot DH, he might as well know that he might want to lick his mother’s shoes, but other ADULTS do not have to kow tow to his Mommy Dearest. Respect goes both ways, right?
Thank heavens I had respectful and clean ILs, otherwise it would have been a civil war from the “git go” as I don’t tolerate anyone’s nonsense.

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just4kicks May 22, 2014 at 2:49 pm

@hakayama: She did forget quite often I was their mom, and again, not to speak ill of the dead, but she was NOT a nice person. Even though we’ve been married almost 20 years, I was never good enough for her son. She was horrible to me, but never in earshot of my husband. So guess who always looked like the nut job? If I had a dime for every time I heard “My mom would NEVER say such a thing to YOU!!!” I could retire to a sunny island.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:15 am

I think after the first time I heard the “My mother would NEVER” say such a thing to YOU” bit, I would have bought a small recording device.

After the second time, I would have kept it on me at all times that I was with MIL, and kept it running.

Of course, local laws might make that illegal, but I probably would have done it anyway, and dared my husband to report me to the police when I played back his mother’s vile words to me, after he called me a liar. After all, I get to call a lawyer from jail. Might as well call one who handles divorce, right?

I am very angry on your behalf, just4kicks.

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just4kicks May 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

@Michelle: thank you for your kids words. I know I’m certainly not alone in the MIL from hell category, but she took the cake. One time I did get just a little justice. On vacation one year, I splurged on some beautiful but expensive sunglasses. I kept them in the side pocket of our car. One day, after my husband picked his mom up to take her somewhere, I noticed they were gone. I asked if maybe his mom borrowed them on the ride and forgot to put them back. You’d think I accused her of armed robbery. How DARE I even suggest such a thing!!! I wasn’t accusing her of stealing, I didn’t mind if she used them as long as she put them back. This caused a long standing rift until I just let it go. Fast forward to MIL passing on, and my husband and I cleaning out her bedroom to donate clothes, etc to Goodwill. I opened one of the drawers and carefully wrapped in tissue paper alllllllll the way back in a drawer were my sunglasses!!! I will admit I lost my temper, called my husband’s name and when he turned around, I threw them at him. Not nice, I know. His look went from anger to confusion to finally “Oh…..SH^T.” I never said a word, just went back to the task at hand.

NostalgicGal May 24, 2014 at 10:57 pm

I totally understand and I would have left HIM to finish the cleanup until he apologized.

Glad you managed to have him see a glimmer of the light.

Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:10 am

BWAHAHAHAHAAAA!

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just4kicks May 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm

…kind words….not kids….sheesh….

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just4kicks May 25, 2014 at 10:01 am

@NostalgicGal: while my husband does have many wonderful qualities, apologizing when he is in the wrong isn’t one of them. I took the high road and didn’t push the issue, but the look on his face at that moment said it all.

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NostalgicGal May 25, 2014 at 4:21 pm

In that I will join you in a grin, just4kicks. Mine can be a bit thick between the ears too at times. I did luck out with one of the sweetest MIL’s you could have. One of DH’s sisters, on the other hand, is still taking the cake and platter. The older sister finally got on her case and got her to can it, as I had put it once–after over three decades I’m still married to her brother, put on her big girl panties and DEAL already, I’m not leaving any time soon.

just4kicks May 21, 2014 at 8:03 am

…LOL….that would be screaming HISSY, not hussy…..
Freudian slip, auto correct??? 🙂

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sean May 21, 2014 at 8:03 am
Miss-E May 22, 2014 at 9:51 am

^This is a really good point^ It also should be noted that a little bacteria is good for you. Small amounts of exposure keep your immune system active and strong. And if you’re around people who are sick or about to become sick, you’ll probably catch their germs simply from sharing a close space.

That said, I totally understand people preferring to not share a dip bowl…but just say that it’s because you personally find it gross because there isn’t much science to back it up.

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NostalgicGal May 22, 2014 at 1:04 pm

My doc is going to finally retire, he’s seen a lot in his many decades of practice. He had a todder brought to him, an only and spoiled child of later aged parents; and she was sick all the time with everything you could think of. Look at her crosseyed and she was sick.

He prescribed (and wrote it out on the pad) a tablespoon of dirt, fed to her every day, and to take her outside and plop her in a mudpuddle with some toys. She was kept inside all the time, not allowed to mingle with others, and in such a clean environment, that her immune system wasn’t taxed and wasn’t working well. Any minor thing and she was sick.

Parents were furious of course… but he was right. She got put into the headstart program and met other kids head-on, and some real outdoor play, and after a month or so of being sick, she came out of it.

However, you can generally keep your mouth germs to yourself. Doubledipping the communal sauce or gravy pot is just … yeuuuk.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:16 am

If you’re already healthy, being exposed to a few germs does give your immune system some exercise, to keep you healthy.

But if you’re already compromised, then a few more germs can do you in.

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NostalgicGal May 24, 2014 at 11:08 pm

That is very true, but if you never get any exposure you will have issues too. I have some issues but, I do not limit my general life exposure… but try to avoid the germiest things to handle especially in public, use hand sanitizer and wash hands; if someone looks or sounds ill I try not to get in direct contact, etc; and when I am working in yard or with pets or plants; I know the ugliest ickiest and more (MRSA possible from some of the pond stuff, a break of skin while working with that, is not good, etc) and take reasonable precautions. There are both extremes; the idea is to live normally and healthily. In the case of the little girl I mentioned, she wasn’t getting enough exposure, that was the only issue, once she did she could cope. In the OP’s case she *needs* to take the extra precautions until after her baby is born, and into some of the post time if she’s nursing. She knows it. Woe to her MIL that doesn’t get it.

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Dust Bunny May 29, 2014 at 10:43 am

We don’t live in a sterile environment, and you don’t have to share spit to get sufficient germs. If you go outside, touch things at a department store/office/school/church/anyplace where there are lots of people, handle animals, etc., you’re getting germ exposure. We can all be forgiven for skipping the double-dipped dip, since it’s still gross and it’s not going to rescue our immune systems, anyway.

kit May 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

As for me, I just don’t want to eat other people’s saliva, doesn’t matter how few germs there really are.

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Ann May 21, 2014 at 8:09 am

I’m sorry, I got stuck on the losing 4 stone. OP, you’ve lost 56 pounds? Take care, this sounds like a very difficult pregnancy. Even if this was a situation worth bringing up to MIL, I would wait until after your baby’s birth and until after you’ve had some recovery time. Your energy doesn’t need to be going to confrontation right now.

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Katharine G. May 21, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I lost almost 30. Now, I had quite a bit to spare, so there wasn’t a problem really.

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SV May 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I lost between 20 -30 with each of my pregnancies ( I had three children, all of whom weighed more than 7 lbs at birth…one, almost 9lbs.) It can be hard to eat enough during pregnancy.

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cdubz May 21, 2014 at 8:11 am

I actually do this with dips, as well, even if it’s just my husband and myself. I have also never been pregnant nor a germophobe. For me, it’s just always been the polite way to eat from a communal appetizer instead of reaching over people to dip my chips/bread/whatever.

That being said, you don’t have to explain your food choices or your method of eating. This should not be an issue unless you’re making a scene, and from what you describe you were not.

If it happens again, don’t explain yourself, just beandip.

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DGS May 21, 2014 at 8:21 am

Unnecessary drama. Smile sweetly, ignore MIL’s digs, eat what you can. You owe no one (and that includes family members) explanations about how much and of what you eat, whether you are or are not currently pregnant. And putting a small amount of dipping sauce on your plate, as opposed to double and triple-dipping is plain old good manners, although as Etiquette Dame mentioned, you absolutely should not lecture family members about how unsavory that habit is, or regale them with tales of thousands of bacteria leaping off their fingers and into the pot of sauce.

Also, from one Mom to another, your baby will be exposed to lots of germs and bacteria. Follow your pediatrician’s recommendations, minimize exposure for about 6 weeks until the baby’s immune system is well-developed, put out a big bottle of hand sanitizing lotion for visitors to use when they come, but also, be realistic. You certainly have limited control of your home environment, and you can model appropriate hygienic practices for your child (and encourage him or her to develop good table manners), and your child will still get exposed to all kinds of things and hopefully, will have a strong enough immune system to fight whatever bug it is!

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GrizzMagoo May 21, 2014 at 11:01 am

Hear Hear.

If you worry about every little thing your child puts into their mouth, or every little bug they are exposed to, you’ll go crazy. Also – If yours is anything like mine, they won’t get sick from whatever bug they bring home from grandmas, daycare, etc…you will.
Follow dr.s orders, and keep little one away from people who let thier dogs lick their fingers, etc., but don’t worry – it’s okay to be exposed to germs now and again, that’s how we build up our immunities.

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Mer May 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Yeah, at least some doctors claim that kid eating all kinds of stuff might actually be good for their immune system. Though dentists have been lately warning parents to avoid eating with same spoons etc, dental caries spreads that way and causes cavities, kids usually contact it from their parents, if I understand correctly. Might be reason to avoid double dipping with kids around.

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Asharah May 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm

I read a joke once when a new mother asked a more experienced mother about when you stopped sterilizing the baby’s bottles. Other mother replied it was the day she found baby chewing on one of Dad’s workboots. LOL!

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:21 am

My mother told me a joke about pacifiers.

When the baby drops the pacifier on the floor:
With the first child, you sterilize the pacifier.
With the second child, you rinse the pacifier with hot water.
With the third child, you blow and rub it clean.
With the fourth child, you stick it in your own mouth, while juggling toys and diapers, and then stick it back in the kid’s mouth.

I’m the fourth child.

JO May 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm

You’re absolutely 100% right. However I don’t think this mom to be was concerned about baby catching a cold later on, so much as getting one herself while pregnant. Having been through a high risk pregnancy myself, I can sympathize. All pregnant women have suppressed immune systems; this helps mom’s body to not reject baby. Combine that with pregnancy sickness, especially if it’s severe enough to cause massive weight loss. And on top of both these things, being unable to take most medications because they could be harmful to baby. I don’t blame OP for being extra careful, even germaphobic, at this time. Any bug can be dangerous to her AND baby, given the circumstances.

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Tracy W May 22, 2014 at 3:11 am

Yes, a cold while pregnant is utterly miserable.

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Dezrah May 21, 2014 at 8:27 am

Wow, I must say I’m really impressed, Admin. I was reading this thinking along the lines “well if you’re pregnant you of course get dictate certain matters” and “well her husband really needs to be the one to shut things down.” But you’re right; all those little details were red herrings. This is truly about being adept at handling the button pushers and busy-bodies in our lives. This is why I keep coming to this site. I learn something new all the time.

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GEna May 21, 2014 at 8:31 am

I thought the proper thing to do when sharing a meal with sauces was to put some on your own plate. That way you can double-dip to your heart’s delight without affecting others.

The rule in my family is that if you want to use the “community” bowl of dip, salsa, etc, you dip once and keep your hands out. Otherwise get the waiter to bring you a small bowl to spoon some into.

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Shalamar May 21, 2014 at 9:03 am

I feel you, OP! I don’t think it can be considered “germaphobic” to not want to eat food that someone with less-than-perfect hygiene habits has been using.

My thing is eggs. I simply can’t eat them “as-is” (i.e. scrambled, hard-boiled, whatever). I can eat them just fine if they’re in a cake, though, so it’s not an allergy. I hate their taste, smell, and texture. My MIL simply cannot or will not remember this. She’s always trying to feed me eggs and gets annoyed or insulted if I say “no, thank you.” It’s been more than 25 years now, so I think it’s a lost cause.

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NostalgicGal May 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I and my DH both have had people, family and others, try to feed us stuff that we hate, detest, despise, or are allergic to, repeatedly. I have a few strange allergies, but trust me, on some if I swallow it, I will have 10-60 seconds to bend over and ralf it up. Every Time. I kept telling one particular person that I can’t eat that food, period, and they kept trying; that I just ‘if I tried it I’d like it’ mentality; and managed to disguise some enough that I didn’t taste it and got some down my throat. I bent over, ralfed half a meal worth of appetizers, desserts and drink all over their feet, and said ‘there was X in that dessert’ and left. It took awhile to repair that one and they DID apologize, I did feel bad for the mess, but they FINALLY got it.

Shalamar, I have had salmonella, and it was traced to eggs, so I am firm about my eggs must be completely cooked, and I don’t know how many people I know have to fix them ‘snotty’ (still runny, not totally congealed) then try to feed them to me that way. A friend of mine, her mother would fix her scrambled eggs like that, the friend can’t stand scrambled eggs to this day. I totally understand.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:24 am

Vomit is a highly effective educator.

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Emily Kubley May 22, 2014 at 6:57 pm

My MIL does the same thing to me. I can’t stand onions, celery, or peppers. “But they’re sweet peppers” they’re peppers right?, still don’t like peppers. “You won’t taste the celery at all” then why did you put it in there? And she acts shocked every time.
I’m pregnant as well (7 weeks to go) and we visited them last weekend. It became a big deal that I didn’t want any of the steamed veggies. Well it was carrots, onions, and celery. I love carrots but anything cooked with onions will pick up that flavor. It’s sort of buffet style there so is filled my plate with roast beef, potatoes, and salad. I’m not starving myself and I made no “eww I won’t eat that” comment. Just didn’t partake in the dish I couldn’t eat. But just like every time she draws the attention to it. “You should eat your vegetables, carrots are good for you. ” yes I know, I eat a lot of them in general and they were also in the salad.

I’ve also had her tell me that I “had to try one bite because that’s what she did with her kids” um nope, I’m not your child. I will politely eat what I can and complement you heavily on it. I just wish she’d stop making a scene about it.

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NostalgicGal May 24, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Shellroni and peas; peas fit perfectly into those small pasta. The one you did NOT check was the one with a pea firmly wedges inside it. I used to hate peas, I have come to tolerate them if they are mashed/whirled/etc; my spouse hated them with the same passion and with good reason.
After being married over 30 years, I have never cooked a pea in my household (said pea intrusions are already prepared foods I purchase and must eat) and I have never EVER tried to feed him a pea, he will not eat shellroni. Because of the possibility, yet, there might be that pea lurking in one to ruin his meal. I don’t try.

I am not four, I do NOT have to try one bite. Also, if I make it and you don’t want to eat all of it, I will not be upset if you push all the X aside; just don’t make a scene. I had a friend at a club meeting sort of say that… and I gave her permission to ‘eat around what she didn’t want to eat’. (that also meant she couldn’t take four helpings and cherry pick it either!!!!! …and she didn’t do that) (Emily, I can commensurate, everything seems to have celery and onions in it. I can stand a little pepper as long as it’s not green bell… there isn’t a decent canned veggie soup out there that isn’t full of icky celery and onions!!!!! I hate that. Congrats and good luck with the pregnancy)

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Yvaine May 21, 2014 at 9:07 am

If a white lie would help at all, a lot of times I’ll put my own supply of sauce on the plate and blame it on myself–I’m doing it so I can double dip with impunity. 😀 In my case it’s actually true, but it might work for you too.

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A different Tracy May 21, 2014 at 2:18 pm

That won’t work with the OP’s MIL, who thinks double-dipping is completely appropriate.

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Mary May 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I love this response!

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Yvaine May 22, 2014 at 9:45 am

I mean, how else are you going to get sauce on the back end of the piece of food? 😉

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Jewel May 21, 2014 at 9:16 am

For the most part, I wholeheartedly agree with the Admin’s suggested approach. If MIL likes to get in little digs or create little dramas, it’ll be very unsatisfying for her if the LW refuses to play the game. Allowing awkward silence to occur each time might just be the perfect way to stop this behavior.

However, sometimes people will do these little things as a “test” to see how far they can push someone. If the “victim” doesn’t firmly stomp down on it, this kind of person will go a little further. Then a little further. And a little further. Until their behavior is quite egregious.

We don’t know if the letter writer’s MIL is the first type or the second type, but her husband knows since he grew up with her. If she’s the “tester” type, the LW together with her husband need to vociferously make clear to MIL that the sniping and criticisms are to stop IMMEDIATELY and that repeats of this behavior will not be tolerated. Then, of course, follow-through is extremely important (leaving MIL’s presence, not inviting MIL to gatherings, etc.) to underline the message.

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SV May 21, 2014 at 9:26 am

All you have to do is smile and say, ” I don’t want to.” Refuse to be drawn in, and definitely don’t get into a discussion about hygiene or germs. And if you think this is bad, wait until baby is born ….everyone you know, including your MIL, will have an opinion on what you do. Ignore them. And congratulations on your baby 🙂

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Lera99 May 21, 2014 at 9:47 am

Wait, they are double dipping in the communal sauces? EEEEEWWWWWWW!

What the heck is wrong with them? That is simply NOT ok. Not under any circumstance is that ok.

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SRJ May 21, 2014 at 9:54 am

I love “…let a poor topic die a lonely death”.

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acr May 21, 2014 at 9:54 am

I totally agree with the Dame, especially on this:

“You certainly do not need to explain to relatives why you happen to put dips on a plate instead of taking it straight out of the dipping pot or give an account of your medical status to justify certain choices.”

Your pregnancy (congratulations by the way!) is in many ways irrelevant here. You don’t need a “reason” to order the foods you prefer and you don’t need a “reason” to put some sauce on a plate. Many people do that for many reasons.

Your MiL’s insistence that you use the common pots of sauce is bizarre. I wonder if she’s been scolded in the past for her lack of hygene and is now sensitive about it? Of course, she’s refused to change, but now she feels defensive?

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:31 am

Pregnancy is not an allergy. If you blame it, they’ll come back at you later, and say, “You’re not pregnant now. You can’t use that excuse.”

An allergy should be common knowledge among family members, at least if you’re going to be dining tougher a lot. If everyone knows that I will be violently ill if I eat X, then they will make sure I don’t eat X. Likewise, we don’t feed my nephew mushrooms because he’ll simply refuse them, and that’s wasted mushrooms! He doesn’t need to be violently ill, just say “No,” and there you go. More for the rest of us.

But for those boors who will insist on feeding you X, when you can’t stand it, whether due to a physiological response, or you just can’t stand the taste, don’t give them such a temporary excuse as pregnancy. Either give them a permanent excuse, or else be firm in a “No, thank you,” without any excuse, whatsoever. The unexplained refusal is best for the temporary situation.

Now, they might forget, and you may have to remind them, but never take a chance on a temporary excuse.

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Kovitlac May 21, 2014 at 10:38 am

I know plenty of people who prefer to place sauce on their plate, rather than dip. I don’t see any problem with it. I prefer to dip into the bowl, but I’m certainly not offended when people do otherwise. Her placing the bowls directly in front of you, and making a smart-alack comment about the cake knife sounds especially annoying, and inconsiderate. She’s trying to make this all about her, instead of about you (or even just about no one). I’d be hard-pressed to listen to her whine about your dietary concerns, before calming saying, “…Are you finished?” But I’m not the one who has to have her in my life all the time.

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Girlie May 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

haha.. I love the knife comment from MIL.. soooo typical of what mine would say.

I’ve seen the germ fight too many times between my mom and grandmother (who is her MIL). My grandmother has a tendency to use her fingernails and fingers in the grossest looking ways when eating with her hands and then will put meat or something extra on your plate. I’ve learned to just leave it on my plate and if she starts moaning “are you grossed out like your mother” type of attitude, I just let it be and tell her I’m stuffed—it’s not even worth it. Some people just will always push those buttons. Although a DIL and MIL can care for each other, I have yet to find a pair that can stand each other! There will always be those jabs that I can hear but my DH doesn’t.

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PM May 21, 2014 at 11:02 am

My brother used to do the same thing, but with drinks. he was too freaking lazy to get up and get his own drink, so he would wait until yours was unattended and then swig half of it in one go. And if you objected, he would shrug. “We’re related, it’s not like my germs are worse than yours!”

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NostalgicGal May 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

My hubby used to think my glass was his; then I caught the cold from H*** and tried to share my glass every chance I got, or drink out of his (while pausing from snorting and snotting and hacking) and… he caught it; he was FURIOUS, I told him if he wanted to share every germ, then I was bound and determined to. ALL THE TIME. He got rid of that cold after three weeks, and my glass has been my own for over three decades now.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:33 am

Way to go!

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starstruck May 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm

as gross as that is, it made me laugh:)

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Kate May 21, 2014 at 2:06 pm

This is my personal line in the sand. I am so icked out by people drinking from my bottles or cans. I remember hearing that the last swig of soda is like 10% saliva, and, true or not, I am so super grossed out by that. I will offer you a drink before I put my mouth on it, and pour it into a glass for you. Because even seeing someone else drink my backwash will turn my stomach! To a lesser extent, sharing forks etc ( if we’re all having one bite of the cake, or whatever).

OP, you are perfectly within your rights as a human being to dictate what you eat. Ignore, ignore, ignore, and she’ll move onto an easier target! And congratulations on your bundle of joy!

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:35 am

My sister and I used to practice pouring a drink directly into our mouths, so the glass didn’t touch ours, and we could share that way. Likewise with forks. Not good table manners, but if you must share, at least do it cleanly.

OK, sometimes it got messy. That’s why we needed practice.

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VM May 21, 2014 at 10:56 pm

My mother wouldn’t even wait. She would even take the cup right out of my hands. And pitched holy mama-drama when I complained, because we were family and supposed to be loving and sharing and all that.

She finally gave in and left my drinks alone, but I don’t think she ever understood. Mother/daughter boundaries were never her strong point.

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Cat May 22, 2014 at 6:58 am

It must be a “mother” thing. When I was a child, I needed a new toothbrush. Mother refused to buy one for me. She gave me one she had already used while on a trip and made me use that.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:36 am

Cat, after reading your posts, I don’t think it’s a “mother” thing. I think it’s these particular mothers. Your family is unusual.

Apparently, VM’s mother is, as well.

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BellyJean May 22, 2014 at 9:22 am

I’ve also been told that you can get the herpes virus from sharing things like drinks and lip balm… Regardless of whether there’s a flare-up, and that will stay with you forever.

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crella May 23, 2014 at 6:59 am

The bacteria that cause periodontal disease can also be passed on, by sharing cups etc. No thank you!

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Miss-E May 23, 2014 at 9:09 am

That isn’t true. You could get it from someone who has an active sore but it is unlikely. Mostly it is direct contact. Of course, if you don’t like sharing cups, you don’t like it and that’s fine.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:33 am

Oh, BLARGH! That’s too gross, and too rude, and too selfish, and I have no words.

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NostalgicGal May 24, 2014 at 11:33 pm

You can get herpes if someone left a mucus deposit under a desk or something and you touch it within 20 minutes. Knew someone that did that. (picked it up that way, it took a real witch hunt to find the source)

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Orsina May 21, 2014 at 11:02 am

Aside from teaching one’s own children table manners, I think there is something intrusive and unseemly about taking notice of how/what other people are eating and commenting on it. Mind your own plate, I say. So yes, your MIL was rude.
That said, there is really no nice way of implying that others may be too germy for your liking.

I agree with other posters who have said “don’t explain”. Smile and bean dip. This will save you the frustration of trying to appease them. It will also frustrate them by denying their desire for a confrontation. 🙂

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Harley Granny May 21, 2014 at 11:04 am

Totally agree with Admin…..the only thing worse than commenting on what someone has on their plate (MIL) is someone listing the faults of others. (You with the double dipping germ chastizement)

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Cat May 21, 2014 at 11:07 am

For Americans, a stone in weight is fourteen pounds. That’s a lot of weight to lose in a few months.

I have found the fastest way to shut a rude person down when he/she tries to start an argument is to say firmly, “I am not going to discuss that. It’s my decision.”

The lady is trying to anger you and is doing a fine job of it. She can eat from the dog’s dish for all I care, but don’t try to serve me from it.

When the baby comes, you have going to have to lay down some strict rules about what goes into the child’s mouth where she is concerned. Be prepared that a baby is going to be exposed to many germs and there is only so much you can do. I read about a lady who was very careful about making certain that everything her child used was clean-and then she caught him running his tongue down the hand-rail at a New York City subway station.

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Lisa May 21, 2014 at 11:16 am

First of all, MIL’s dipping protocol sounds disgusting.

Secondly, you could just say that the foods that trigger nausea for you have already been dipped in the dip so that’s why you’re keeping yours separate.

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Ashley May 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

I don’t understand why she would have ANY issues with the sauce thing. Seriously. Normally the only person I am sharing food with is my husband, but I still often would rather put sauce on my plate than have to keep reaching for it and possibly dribbling it on the table between whatever cup its in and my mouth. Yes they have those little plates for appetizers but still, that only covers so much ground. I’m not a messy eater by any means, but sauce drips sometimes, and I don’t want the wait staff to have to clean up any level of mess beyond clearing my plates.

You didn’t need to give any excuses, I would have just ignored her and struck up a new conversation with whoever else was there to listen

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:39 am

It looks like a control thing. The MIL wanted to be in control of the DIL, and this was one means of doing so.

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Shyla May 21, 2014 at 11:35 am

I am immune suppressed from meds I take for a transplant. Some of my family think I’m making it up or try anything to get me to go against the rules my doctor set. I hate it and yes sometimes I’m really upset. Why do they do that? Only reason I can find is people are a**es.

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NostalgicGal May 22, 2014 at 12:00 am

Print out the definition of what it means; and why one should NOT expose self to germs; and hand them a copy, with a nice smile. After that, consider them from Booron and suffering from Thickskullitis. You have my condolences about them.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:42 am

I’m so sorry to hear that. It makes no sense to me, that people would actively try to set you off like that. Especially people who claim to love you.

People are unfathomable, sometimes.

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FLlawgal May 21, 2014 at 12:07 pm

It is one thing for DH and I to double dip when it is in the privacy of our own home with only the two of us. It is quite another to expect that to be okay with others. If there is a dip where more than 2 individuals are sharing it, I ALWAYS spoon out a bit of the dip onto my plate. Whenever someone asks, I merely say I didn’t want to hog all the dip to myself (bean dip and compliments to the chef/hostess- win win!)

On a similar vein, my parents went to visit a friend at her beachside home. Another couple was also there. The wife in the other couple had horrible habits when it came to preparing food. She literally scratched her head and coughed into her hands several times before attempting to help prepare food for herself and everyone else. My mom (a nurse and semi germaphobe), insisted on taking care of things instead. The wife’s response: “So what? We all have a few germs.” That may be the case, but my folks didn’t WANT her germs.

A few days later, the wife stuck her unwashed, uncleaned FINGERNAIL into a fresh pack of cheese to pull out a piece for her dog, despite the knife being right next to the cheese. My mother quietly cut out the area surrounding the portion that had been fingernailed.

Ultimately, my Dad ended up getting sick for three weeks, due to the wife not washing her hands and coughing into them before preparing food. Mom did not, as she quietly and unobtrusively did not eat anything prepared by the Wife.

While OP doesn’t need to expound on the realities of germs to her MIL, she’s well within her rights to protect her health and the health of her unborn child by avoiding the double dippers.

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Moralia May 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Not polite, I don’t recommend saying this, but when I encounter double-dippers with your MIL’s attitude, I think, “We may be family (friends), but that doesn’t mean I want to eat your saliva!” :-X

I second the suggestion to react to every move as though you think they’re trying to be so nice and helpful. It won’t change them, but it will give you the pleasure of ever-so-politely annoying the heck out of them.

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Shyla May 21, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Why didn’t your husband help you? Couldn’t he have helped get his mom off the topic? What about the FIL? Seems like your husband should have said something. It’s his mom.

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Molly May 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I totally agree with the admin here …. let the topic die a lonely death. I can’t stand it when people comment on what I eat, or don’t eat, or how I eat, etc. We have a woman in the office that gives a running commentary at lunch and I have learned to just go stonily quiet as she critiques my lunch, or lack thereof, and maybe just give a little shrug and half smile. She usually moves on to someone else or the topic just sputters out.

I suspect this is something you’ll have to learn for the future as having a baby is fraught with opportunities for unwanted advice or critiques. The sooner you stop giving her the satisfaction of irritating you and starting a little snit war the better.

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NostalgicGal May 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Friend of ours, dear woman, and trust me, solid gold. Except. She had the worst gum disease issue going on ever. She’d been under treatment for years, and trust me, you didn’t want to see her open her mouth. (yes her teeth were falling out, dentist had been vainly trying to save them)

She thought every bit of food was communal, as all beverages, and wanted to give you a bite of something off her fork after she bit into it, have a taste of this drink; or grab yours whenever she wanted. Her son had accidentally used her toothbrush on a camping trip a few years before we met her, and guess what, he was now fighting whatever it was she had; but the dentist had hope they would be able to cure his as they caught it early. I don’t remember exactly but I think there were actually two or three things going on there.

Nobody wanted to share anything with her (even the same pitcher of beverage, she’d lick a drip off her fingers and manage to get one in the fluid in the pitcher while offering to pour you one). Her son married, they had their first one and man did they have to watch it that she didn’t somehow get the granddaughter inoculated with what she had. She never bought the clue either, no matter what we tried to do about keep her from sharing her whatever she had.

OP, you don’t have to explain to ANYONE why you took your own sauce. Me, I have diet issues and a lot of my foods have to be measured as I have to control so many things; so putting the sauce on my plate means that’s all I can have, and when it’s gone, I’m eating the rest of the stuff dry. I don’t explain, but if someone gets pushy I usually say that I have to control my salt (very true) and that’s all I can have of X. Don’t rise to her, OP, good luck with the rest of the pregnancy; and as far as MIL, if you cook in the future and have sauce and that, I’d ladle it out into custard cups or similar and serve it that way to EVERYONE; and if someone wants more ladle some more. Aka you don’t dip into the gravy boat; make it clear everyone’s not going to be dipping into the salsa ‘pitcher’ by the same token. In restaurants where they serve the sauce en-masse, just continue to do what you’re doing, OP.

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Angel May 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I sympathize with you, OP. Lord knows I have my own issues with my in-laws–and after you have kids it tends to get worse unfortunately–this is even if you have a good relationship beforehand. Just consider this training for after you have kids. It’s smart to learn when to pick your battles. This unfortunately is a battle you probably won’t win. The best thing you can do is to say nothing for the time being, but if she gets worse or crosses a line it wouldn’t hurt to say something to your husband about it. You definitely don’t want her passing on her gross habits to your kids!

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lakey May 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I don’t blame you for not wanting to use the communal pots of sauce. This is an issue for me also. People who double dip, or use a fork, and then stick it into a communal serving bowl may as well be spitting into the food. But the administrator is right, you should ignore your MIL and do what makes you comfortable. Some people, especially people who’ve raised kids, aren’t as bothered by these things. They do their thing, you do yours.

And congratulations on the pregnancy.

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starstruck May 21, 2014 at 1:58 pm

as someone who is very funny about their food, this had me cringing! lol. i hate double dipping and would not share a “family bowl” of sauces with anyone but my husband. eew. i always think about where peoples hands have been . always. i have one relative who has a nasty habbit of picking the perfect peice of chicken when we have fried chicken at any function. and he will litterally pick up every single peice of chicken, inspect it, and put it back in the pan before he takes one. i wonder what were his hands doing before he touched them. people will go to the bathroom without washing their hands, and all sorts of things. the thought of your mil licking her fingers then sticking them back in the sauce . i just …..i just cant even

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La May 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

… Your mother-in-law is gross.

Also she reminds me of the type of person who responds to people asking stuff like “please don’t make homophobic jokes” or “can you put content warnings on gory pictures please?” with “UGH STOP BEING SO SENSITIVE “(often followed by mocking ). Like, on a different scale, but the same principle.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:50 am

We’re allowed to be sensitive. If you know we’re sensitive, and the purposely continue to hurt us in a way to which we are known to be sensitive, then it is all on YOU. That makes you a hurtful, hateful bully, and that is far worse than being sensitive.

My parents taught all us kids, when we were growing up, that if you find out someone’s hot button, you have a duty to avoid pushing it from then on. This is one reason why my siblings and I get along so well. We *don’t* bother each other. Oh, we tease in fun ways, but never about an actual hot issue. And if we do accidentally hurt each other, we apologize.

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Greg May 21, 2014 at 2:35 pm

gonna have to disagree, you should call her out on it, she is being rude and making fun of you in front of everybody. Maybe discuss it with her later but it should not be ignored because she’ll do it again and again. I hate when people tell others to ignore the bully, it never solves the problem. Now you can do things politely to start like “can we please just drop this” “can you just let it go” “why do you care so much?” or honestly, just get up and leave. It’s always up to you how you want to deal with it but I have a real problem with the advice being given by others here.

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TriCrazy3 June 3, 2014 at 1:07 pm

I tend to agree with this….maybe not as a first response but if she continues. Seriously…why does she care so much??!

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 21, 2014 at 3:28 pm

You don’t have to do the things that your MIL wants you to and it sounds as if you really shouldn’t, anyway. If she’s the kind of person who insists on pushing at you every time you get together then I think you can certainly reply (with restraint). It’s a short sighted MIL who chooses to antagonize spouses who have married into the family for the sake of humoring their own preferences. You can call her out on her behavior and you probably should (or have hubby do it) IF she is a serial offender who makes family gatherings a gauntlet that you must run for her amusement. “I prefer my sauces on the side”, “I’ve eaten all that I can manage”/ “I don’t care for any more just now” and, if needed “I’m following my doctor’s instructions”. If she continues to needle you about how you SHOULD eat/ breathe/ behave- you can ask HER if she seems to feel okay. Do so with all the sympathy and concern that you can muster plus a small dash of drama. If she begins to see that every time she tries to put you in the hot seat that you will either ignore her or turn the tables on her by turning her line of questioning around- it may dissuade her from her games. She sounds like she is either clueless or a bully. In either case- the answer is the same.

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ohboy May 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I never even thought for a million years that people actually all shared that dipping sauce by dipping into the same pot. Do they? I’ve always thought you each put some on your own plate and asked for more if you ran out. OP, there’s really nothing else but a smile and a “no thank you” to do.

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e. May 21, 2014 at 5:42 pm

No one in my family or circle of friends does this thing of putting sauce on their plate or a scoop of salsa, unless for pragmatic reasons, like there’s only one bowl of sauce for a table of 12. People do use the communal pot, they just don’t double dip, so it’s fine.

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Kendra May 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Um….yeah. My family and friends dip in the communal pot all the time. I never knew it was supposed to be gross until I started reading this site. Now eating any meal with dirty hands is rude, but the OP said that she didn’t know that the IL’s hands were clean but she didn’t say they were actually dirty. Also, the rooting around the sauce pot for bits of dropped food is weird and just not done. As far as the double dipping goes, unless someone is slobbering all over the food like a 2 year old, I don’t get the big deal. Personally, I’m finding a lot of these “double dipping….ewwww!” rather OTT and kinda funny.
That said, if the OP and others would rather have their sauce on their plate, as long as they don’t make a big deal out of it, it is their choice and they shouldn’t be chastized for it. If someone in my group was fastidious enough to prefer putting their sauce on their plate, at most they might get a raised eyebrow, but in reality I think the rest of us would be so busy eating, talking and visiting to really care what each was putting or not putting on their plate.

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Jenn50 May 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I come from the school of thought that exposure to a few extra germs is (generally) good for the immune system, (except when you’re immune suppressed, or simply can’t afford even a minor illness) and wouldn’t bat an eye at someone delicately double dipping. It’s actually the norm in my family and circle of close friends. I draw the line at people licking their fingers and sticking them in the dip, or people with known illness. That said, if someone dished up a clean serving separately, I’d completely understand. Your mother-in-law sounds vulgar, gross, and nasty, and I agree that pregnancy or immuno-compromise, or any other reason you have for dishing up a separate portion are irrelevant because it’s none of her business why you choose to do it. It doesn’t cause her harm, and it’s not your problem that she feels rejected by your choice.

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FizzyChip May 21, 2014 at 8:30 pm

OP, you’re like me! I get easily sucked into long explanaitions and always respond with the truth, whereas often I’d be better off with a white lie.

I know it’s easy for us lot to sit here and advise you, especially if you’re caught off guard. At present I’m working on the phrase, “I just prefer it that way” and STOP there. Dont engage, don’t give reasons such as health concerns, your inlaws are frankly ignoring your reasons and choosing instead to interpret your choice as insulting to them.

Any further attempted engagement over the matter should illicit merely a smile and a subject change.

Good luck!!!!

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hakayama May 21, 2014 at 8:48 pm

In order of importance:
Please, STRONGLY reconsider the sweet starchy snacks. As a fellow hypoglycemic, I sympathize with your problem, and I hope you can consult a nutritionist (not a dietician!) about your “first aid”.
Proteins and complex carbs sustain sugar levels more evenly than the other goodies. If GPs in the UK are as uninformed about nutrition as they are generally in the US, you might want to find other sources of information about nourishing yourself and the LO.
Congratulations on the future addition to the family.
Condolences on the nasty bad luck of the draw with MIL.
My ILs were lovely people, but I think that the following motto needs to be kept in mind (and sight?):
“They are not your family. They are not your friends. They are your in laws.”
There is no reason to put up with any nonsense from them that you would not tolerate from strangers.

ICK, ICK, pheeeew, arrrrrrgh! on the filthy beast.
In your shoes, I would minimize the revolting get togethers except for special occasions. Wouldn’t you rather spend your leisure time with people you actually LIKE? And not have your stomach turned at every step of the way?
YOU need to lay down the rules for handling the bundle of joy. YOU are the mother.
If DH is not completely in your corner, and pulls the “I have equal say since I’m a parent too”, tell him that when he carries and gives birth, THEN HE will have the final say.
Draw the boundaries ASAP, and “call out” mis-steps the FIRST time they happen. Do not wait for repeated events, as they get established as acceptable norms. There is no reason to be afraid of embarrassing the nasty cow as she obviously has no shame.
(Again, this is not from my experience with ILs but with teenagers. And I got paid for dealing with them. 😉

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RC May 22, 2014 at 10:26 pm

You believe her husband does not get a final say in the rearing of his child because he did not carry the child through pregnancy and birth it? Go back to the dark ages, child birthing may be the domain of women but child rearing is equally the responsibility of both parents, who must try to agree and follow a united approach; not ‘I birthed it, I get the final say’.

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Raven May 23, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Definitely agree. I hate the “I birthed it, it’s mine” philosophy. I assume the DH’s DNA is part of the child, right? Ugh. Work together with DH to find a solution that works.

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hakayama May 29, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Ladies, RC and Raven:
I was not referring to run of the mill “normal” circumstances. It had to do with “endangering the welfare of the child”, OK? And filthy DHs’ mamas, no matter how much the DHs might be under their thrall, do fall in the category of dangerous situations.
ALSO: under ideal and desirable conditions, both parents really should participate in child rearing. Perhaps equally… However, unfortunately too often, the realities are soooo different from the ideals.
On one occasion I had to leave my infant under her father’s care for about two hours. When I got home, I found out that when the child’s diaper got unexpectedly (wow, the kid pooped) full, he called his mama to come and do the changing.*
So glad that a generation later, my son in law was an expert in “baby stuff”. But then, my own Father also was a good “nanny”. 😉 So please, tuck away the “dark ages” bit. I was only using the birthing thing as a potential clincher when a DH is a DuH.
* He ultimately wound up being an X for other reasons, not merely for unwillingness to do diaper duty.

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hakayama May 21, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Madame Administrator:
I just checked my emails, and found no note from you “suggesting” that I should stop posting comments on E-Hell.
Comments that, admittedly, at times advocate the use of a direct* approach when dealing with lunacy resembling the behavior of this posting’s MIL. An approach that might not quite fit in the deep sighs, pearl clutching and silent suffering tone espoused by this site.
However, in the last comment I addressed a health issue of the LW, not just her MIL… That one segment really COULD have been left while excising everything else. Dropping the ENTIRE text is not in the OP’s best interest, nor the interest of other readers that may have similar issues.
It is not too pleasant to be declared persona non-grata, but I’ll survive.
Have a nice life.
* No obscenities, curses or otherwise “strong” language was used.

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admin May 22, 2014 at 2:06 pm

You had a choice before you to choose to presume good will or to presume evil. You choose the latter and it has been duly noted.

Your two comments were misdirected, for whatever reason I don’t know, to the Spam file and that’s where I found them. I didn’t put them there and once found, they were approved. If you are expecting any personal explanation for why certain comments are not approved, you will be sorely disappointed as I don’t often have the time to trot down that particular pig path but you can be assured that I don’t often approve comments that encourage or support the OP in behaving like a rude idiot who willing gives over power and control for the sake of good old retaliatory rant.

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hakayama May 21, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Amendment: ….”seemingly espoused by this site.”

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Rowan May 22, 2014 at 2:35 am

Out of curiosity – are your husband’s family from a different social class than yours? I know this sounds really 1950s but I also know (from experience) that it can still be a HUGE issue over here in the UK. My ex-MiL was the “working class and proud of it” type and she had a massive chips on her shoulder about me and my middle-class family. If I did anything differently to the way she did, it was always because I “thought I was better” than them. I was wondering if this sort of thing might be behind your MiL’s controlling behaviour with the food. “Oh, don’t you want to share with us? Are we not good enough for you?” Maybe in the past she’s had someone give her grief for ‘acting common’ or something.

Yes, US readers, we Brits CAN be just that ridiculous sometimes.

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Girlie May 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

I can totally relate to this and am in the States. My MIL always throws jabs out about my parents’ “high class” house and how “fancy” my mom dresses and once I joked about how my cat doesn’t like cooked fish, only raw, like sushi or something, MIL replied with “well she’s high class, it fits her surroundings”… Mind you, my parents aren’t billionaires or anything, just have made good decisions and have a normal, decent house- nothing huge.. and my in-laws have something very comparable, but just haven’t made good decisions and aren’t as comfortable now as they could have been. It’s so awkward when she says things like that because no one has ever acted better than them, yet it’s like she always tries to get a rise out of me. I just ignore the comments and choose my battles wisely.

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NostalgicGal May 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Exactly. Choose your battles.

It can be said I have champagne tastes and a koolaid budget…. some things I chose and live with the what or way I chose. No I don’t have a couch, yet (all my old beloved family housepets are finally gone, they were one reason for rummage sale or NO couches, again choices); but I have a seriously fancy vacuum cleaner. That cleaner dims the lights but by gravy, it also SUCKS and it does a good job of cleaning–after many cheap and worn out models I have one that Does The Job. I chose the vacuum cleaner first before the couch… some of my friends look at me a bit sideways at times because of things like this, but. It was my choice.

I totally agree with you, Girlie, choose the battles, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 1:55 am

Wow, now I really want to watch “Keeping Up Appearances.”

Nothing brightens my day quite like laughing at Hyacinth “Bouquet.”

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Raven May 22, 2014 at 9:37 am

I just want to add – everyone’s stories here are making me cringe x100. Seriously?! I can’t believe so many people have encountered this level of grossness. Ew ew ew.

As an aside… I survived childhood meningitis (toddler) and my parents were always way OTT about bro and I NOT sharing stuff with other people. I think what my folks saw with me in the hospital really freaked them out. It definitely stuck, that’s for sure. You can get all kinds of nasty illnesses from sharing stuff. “No thank you” – as many times as it takes.

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Anonymous May 22, 2014 at 11:25 am

I wouldn’t share dip with people who double-dipped, stuck their fingers in (especially with dirty hands), etc., whether or not they were “family.” I mean, “family” doesn’t provide a magical barrier against the spread of germs, does it?

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Elizabeth May 22, 2014 at 2:16 pm

You speak as if double-dipping is a usual and accepted occurance. This is the issue.

Double-dipping is not acceptable, in any gathering, family or otherwise. Because you realize these folks think this is ok, I would avoid any food-sharing situation from them. If they want the shared appetizer platter, say “No thanks. My entree will be plenty for me.”

This doesn’t have anything to do with your pregnancy. This is about your in-laws poor table manners. Rather than feeling embarassed, they are attempting to shame you into validating their bad behavior. Please don’t and please don’t condone double-dipping once you are no longer pregnant. ICK!!!

And congratulations to you – I hope all goes well.

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Kendra May 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Well, I guess it must depend on the area because where I live now and a couple of other places I have lived, double-dipping IS the usual and accepted occurance.

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Michelle May 22, 2014 at 4:19 pm

This is an issue of feeling like you have to justify and explain yourself when you really don’t. There’s no need to give her (or anyone) your medical history! You eat how you eat, because that’s just the way it is. Talking about it is irritating and boring to everyone. Don’t engage.

Keep your answers short and don’t be defensive.
“Here, use the big dip bowl!”
You: “No, thanks!”
“But why are you putting the dip on your plate?”
You: “That’s what I like to do.”
“Are you saying that we all have germs?”
You: “I just like it on my plate.”
“You should dip your vegetables in the big bowl like the rest of us.”
You: “Are we still talking about this? No.”

Remember that *doing what you like* is a perfectly good reason to do most things in a restaurant. You don’t need doctor’s orders to order chicken, you can just eat chicken because *that’s what you like*. You can dip veggies on your plate because “that’s what you like*.

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