Whether it’s your aunt telling you you’re too skinny and literally pushing food down your throat or whether you’re doing it to yourself, crying and eating your feelings away; it’s socially accepted.
I’ve had clients who have made great progress changing the way they eat who start to panic during the holidays, “What am I going to do when I have to eat around other people?” Of course I’m like, stick to your plan! The sad part is, they aren’t really worried they won’t be able to control themselves, they are more worried about what others will think and say.
The main thing I've noticed is the people who are doing the shaming are the ones who… how do I say this nicely… well let me tell you the situations and you be the judge.
Went out for dinner with a small group of friends. I was eating super lean and feeling really great.
So I prepared myself for the evening out. I went online and viewed the menu so that I would know what I wanted to order and wouldn’t get swayed in the last minute choice.
I knew it wasn’t going to be as healthy as I would’ve liked but I figured it was just one meal and I would get back on track the next day.
Everything was great until I realizedwe were having the pre-ordered family style service. So I didn’t have much of a choice. I selected a couple items and focused on those.
Everything was going fine until the woman beside me started telling me to eat more. I laughed it off and let her know that I had changed my eating habits and I had had enough to eat. I was good, I had eaten a regular amount of food and tried a bit of everything. But that wasn’t enough for her. She kept pushing me to eat more. That’s when I noticed she would only tell me to eat more when she was reaching to get more. Interesting right?
My self-control was bothering her because it made her feel bad about her own eating, and so she wanted me to join in so she wouldn’t feel as bad. I’ll let this one marinate with you as I move on.
Out again with friends to eat. As we are heading towards the restaurant as a group, Friend #1 announces that she’s STARVING and can’t wait to eat. Friend #1 has had some health issues recently and has made major changes to her diet so that she can lose some weight and also decrease the occurrence of her illness.
Skip ahead to us ordering our food. The waitress takes everyone’s order and Friend #1 orders last. She orders lettuce wraps. As soon as the waitress leaves, Friend #2 starts in on her.
Friend #2: By the way you were talking in the parking lot I thought you were hungry!?!
Friend #1: I am hungry. (with confused look on her face)
Friend #2: You ordered lettuce? How is that going to do anything?
Friend #1: (Ignoring the tone) It’s gonna be so good, it has chicken, and beans and all sorts of stuff inside, It’s going to so yummy.
Friend #2: (screw face watching Friend #1, opens her mouth to spew more hate)
Devon: (Interjects) Whoa, why do you have so much to say about what she’s eating? Why is it ok for you judge what she’s eating?
(Friend #1 high fives Devon)
Friend #2 continues to cut her eye at Friend #1 eating her lettuce wraps)
Do you see what I mean?
Now I understand my “slim girl privilege”. I get that, that’s why the woman in situation #1 was trying to level the playing field. I don’t think it’s right but I get it. It’s her insecurities and has nothing to do with me.
But what really bothered me, was when Friend #2 in the 2nd situation would try to hold her friend back, especially when she’s had so many health issues. It’s really sad and it needs to stop.
So here’s my “How to combat healthy eating shaming during the holidays” list. If you know a shamer you can share this with them. Post it on their Facebook page or tag them in it when you share it.
1. Kill them with Kindness
Do what Friend #1 did and just answer their questions nicely not giving them the satisfaction of getting to you. Do you boo-boo!
2. Drop some Knowledge on them!
*Warning you may need to do some preparation and research for this one
If you’re in transition and people start commenting “oh wow you used to eat twice as much, what happened, why are you depriving yourself?” First of all, you’re not depriving yourself. Over-eating has become normalized. You can combat this by simply throwing statistics at them:
“Did you know that the Public Health Agency of Canada states Overweight, and particularly obesity, is the most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes and its complications. Overweight and obesity also increase an individual's risk of other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, sleep and breathing disorders, depression, and some cancers.”
You could leave it there or add:
“So I’m trying not to die Uncle Junior, how is your Diabetes handling those 3 kinds of meat smothered in gravy on your plate?”
Then take a bite out of your carrot and chew loudly, keeping direct eye contact and wait to see if they have anything to say! lol
Which leads me to what I would do.
3. Call them out!
I have no problem calling anyone out that tries to come at me or anyone who is being bullied around me. I know this one isn’t for everyone but it’s what I would do in this situation. :-)
When Auntie comes over and pinches my side telling me I’m too skinny and I should eat more.
I calmly ask point blank, (not yelling or making a scene. I like to smile when I do this):
“How would you feel if I pinched, no wait… grabbed your fat and said you’re too fat, you should stop eating? Would that be ok? I didn’t think so, so don’t do it to me, it’s a double standard.”
When I didn’t drink alcohol people would constantly try to shame me into drinking. One friend even confided in me that it made her feel uncomfortable to drink when I wasn’t drinking, because it made her feel judged.
I never judge anyone who drinks. I always offered to be the designated driver. It’s a personal choice.
At the end of the day let THEM deal with their issues and don’t take THEIR issues on. You have enough of your own to deal with. If you need to bring your own food or show up after everyone’s eaten then do that. Do whatever it takes for you to maintain what’s right for you.
The more you stick to your plan of getting or being healthy the faster you will see who your real support system is. They will rally around you and protect you from those who want to shame you for doing better.
In Positivity and Health,