Yesterday I went out in the morning with my mother-in-law to run a couple of errands. In between we stopped at my in-law's apartment for coffee, and my MIL asked me if I wanted anything to eat. I told her no, I just wanted coffee, and she was surprised. Even though I have spent god knows how many mornings in their apartment, not eating breakfast, she still acts surprised when I don't want anything, because she knows how Americans eat big breakfasts. She continued "not even a bowl of Cornflakes?" in that motherly way. I told her no, that I wasn't really hungry.
She went into the kitchen to make our coffee and get her bowl of Cornflakes, and came back out bearing a tray with two coffees, a bowl of Cornflakes and a bowl filled with Digestive cookies, of which she insists I eat two. One wouldn't satisfy her, two was the magic number. Now, I don't dislike these cookies, they are tasty, especially with coffee, but they are highly fibrous, and apparently digestive=homemade enema because my stomach doesn't feel right for days after I eat such cookies.
This is a universal thing, this mothering instinct to provide sustenance to all around you. If you say you don't want anything to eat to this woman, she has a look upon her face of mortal terror, followed quickly by a sly smile that lets you know that you will be eating something whether you want to or not. My mother is exactly the same way.
Now, I appreciate the instinct. It is a cross between mothering and being a good hostess. But when it is family, you should be able to pass up the food without the guilt, the insistence, the shoving of something you really don't feel like eating in your face. And, god love her, my mother will tell you that you look like you've gained weight in one breath then try to force feed you some cake in the next. Mothers are an unstoppable force.
For now, I'll deal with it politely. Someday, though, I'll learn all the tricks. I'll learn how to pick up the check before my MIL does (although she will get up and go to the people at the counter of a restaurant and tell them she will be paying the bill and not to bother anyone else with it). I'll learn how to make people eat when they don't want to. I'll learn how to compliment and berate someone in the same sentence. Someday, I'll be a force to be reckoned. But not yet.