Gatherings of people, especially involving woman, invariably end up in conversations about who lost or gained weight and what diet or exercise program is being followed.When you’re working towards a body positive approach to life, or recovering from an eating disorder, this can create quite a challenge.
How do you respectfully, yet firmly, direct the conversation away from body and food?
Here’s a few steps that you can take to make this family feast more enjoyable and respectful.
1. Head’s Up
- When you are changing the dance steps, it’s only fair to give them a heads up. Otherwise they’re going to trip up.
- They will likely need reminding but hopefully this creates the awareness up front. You can even discuss what you can say to them when they go to a topic that’s not healthy for you.
- This step is scary for many and I get it. Just remember that most people are making the comments because they love you. By you letting them know that their way of expressing that love is misplaced and is actually hurting you, they have an opportunity to support you.
2. Go Prepared
- Below are some suggestions but try to use your own words whenever possible.
- These are not to engage or defend, just simply stating where the lines are.
- Visualizing how you’ll handle things will leave you more empowered. And don’t worry if it still comes out wrong. Self-compassion goes a long way. This is a whole new language.
3. Rinse and Repeat
- • Repetition reinforces your stance without engaging in the conversation.
- I find three times is typically all that it takes.
4. Shut it Down
- If you’d like the opportunity to discuss Body Positivity or Intuitive Eating with this person you could choose to add “If you would like to discuss this further at another time, we can set something up”.
- Again, if it continues use the “Rinse and Repeat” step again.
5. Escape Plan
- Giving yourself permission to walk away is important. If it gets to be too much, your health is more important than how it looks or what they’ll say when you’re gone.
- Consider having a place to go or something to do (like journalling, using a punching bag, yoga) afterwards so that you can decompress without using food or exercise.
6. Dignity… Check!
- You’ll want to speak with strength and grace so that you leave with your head held high.
- When you change the dance you challenge their ways. For some, that won’t be well received. Know that this is a reflection of who they are, not who you are.
Here are a few suggestions on how to address specifics types of comments. Rinse and Repeat.
Comments about how much you are or are not eating:
- “I thought that you were dieting?”
- “Are you sure that you need more?”
- “Wow, that’s an awfully big slice/plate/serving”
- “Oh come on, it’s the holidays, indulge a little…it’s only pie/potato/bread”
- “Yes, I’m really looking forward to eating this.”
- “No thank-you, I’ve had enough.”
- “Please don’t comment about my food choices.”
- “I am certain that your comment comes from a place of love, and for that I thank you. Please know, that I no longer accept comments about my food or body.”
Comments about your body:
- “Hey, have you lost weight? What plan are you on?”
- “Oh I see you’ve had an indulgent year”
- “I appreciate that you care enough to notice my size. Please know that I no longer accept comments about my body or food, and I no longer discuss diet and exercise.”
- “I’ve discovered that women have this tendency to focus on body size. So odd. I’m trying something new and going for deeper conversations. What have you been up to lately?”
Comments about what diet they are on or the food itself:”Can you believe how much sugar is in that?
- “Do you have any idea what that’s doing in your body?”
- “Can you believe how many grams of xyz is in that?”
- “I’m vegetarian/paleo/vegan/whole foods now. I feel amazing, I’ve lost a ton a weight, you should try it, I bet you’d feel and look better”
- “I’m pleased to see you taking an interest in your health. Please know that I do not discuss my body or my diet.”
- “Let’s not discuss the food. I want to know about how you’ve been.”
When someone speaks for you:
- “Oh no, she doesn’t need the gravy/rolls/dessert”
- “I’ll speak for myself thank you. Yes please/no thank you I would/wouldn’t like some.”