Responding to body & food comments during the holidays
By Erica Giovinazzo, MS, RD, CPT | November 2022
Spending time with family, especially those you haven’t seen in awhile, can be one of the best things about the holidays, right? Right?!
If you’re like one of the other million people in the world who stress about seeing family over the holidays, you are not alone. Even when we’re close… sometimes especially when we’re close, family can have a way of saying just the thing to make you feel bad about your body or your food choices. Have you experienced any of these shaming comments?
“Oh, looks like you put on some weight this year!”
“I thought you had been working out…?”
“Honey, maybe you should skip the pie.”
Or perhaps you are more lean and fit than last year, and then you have to deal with comments like:
“You’re probably not going to eat any pie, are you?”
“Wow, have you been starving yourself?”
“You’re working out too much, be careful!”
While we can’t control what others say (sadly, I know), we can prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for the comments that might be hurled in our direction. Follow these tips to create a shield from indirect or direct shaming.
Their comment has nothing to do with you.
The common denominator about these comments is that they rarely have anything to do with you. People who shame others are often the most insecure people in the room. They are generally unhappy, lack confidence and make themselves feel better by putting others down. If it’s one of those compliment-insults like, “You look like you’re working out too much,” know that this is just jealousy cloaked in flattery and that person is trying to make themselves feel better by criticizing anything they can about your success. Before you let these comments affect you, take a moment to remember that their shade is only a reflection of them.
This might be a tall order as you’re fuming inside and trying to remind yourself that their comment has nothing to do with you, but if you can muster it, take a mindful moment to have some empathy and compassion for the pain the other person is experiencing. They must be really insecure and unhappy about their own body, health, and fitness if they have to put down somebody else, especially someone that they care for! Maybe you can even give them a genuine compliment to help them feel better about themselves. Remember that this is the season of kindness!
Review your successes.
Instead of going into the end of the year focusing on what you haven’t accomplished, focus on what you have. Get your journal, and start to list all of the things that you have done this year, related to health and fitness or not! Review that list and read each “win” aloud before going to any social event so you realize and remember that you are an incredible, capable, and strong person. Think of this list as your superhero armor!
For everything. Be ready mentally to tackle the comments, and plan in advance how you want to approach your food and fitness. Instead of just “seeing how it goes,” plan the foods that you are going to enjoy (guilt-free please!), allow yourself to enjoy your meal while also not stuffing yourself to the brim, and remember that working out is great but it is not a punishment for having a piece of pie.
Stay strong and remember that no matter what anyone says, you are doing the best that you can do, and their comments have nothing to do with your effort!