Being Fat at the Holidays

Ah is there anything more fun than being under surveillance by the Friends and Family Food Police at the holidays?  There are only a couple of things that I can think of – root canal, shaving my head with a cheese grater, a fish hook in my eye…

This happens to almost all of my fat friends, but to be clear it happens to thin people too – food judgment and shaming happens to people of all sizes.

The awesome Golda Poretsky is doing a free HAES for the Holidays teleclass and I would definitely recommend it, we taught a workshop together in NYC last year and she is awesome (no, I don’t get paid to say that, I say it because it’s true.) Onward…

I think that we need to remember that fat hate and body shaming is modeled for people all over our culture, fear of being fat is a driver of a lot of behaviors. Regardless, I believe that we can choose to teach people how to treat us.  I understand that this can be difficult with family.  For me, personally, the bar doesn’t change.  I have a way that I insist upon being treated. If you can’t live up to that then you just don’t get to be in my life and it doesn’t matter if you’re the mailman or my father.  I give people clear information, and several chances, but I don’t keep anybody in my life who consistently fails to treat to me with the level of respect that I require.  That’s how I do it but it’s not for everybody so what I suggest is deciding what your boundaries are, and what the consequences for breaking those boundaries are.

First, I always suggest that you be prepared for boundary setting when you go into this type of situation.  Think about what your boundaries are, and what consequences you are willing to enforce.  So I wouldn’t suggest saying “If I get one more word of body shaming I’m never speaking to you again!” unless you plan on following through with that.  Otherwise you just teach people that you are someone who doles out idle threats while taking their bullying and bad behavior.  So think about what you would be willing to do – Leave the event?  Stay at a hotel?  Cease conversation until the person can treat you appropriately?  Be sure that you know what you want and that you follow through.

As an example, I’ll use that age old shaming question “Do you need to eat that?”

This is such a loaded question. What do you mean by “need”? Are you asking if my glycogen stores are depleted? If I am near starvation?  If my body at this moment requires the precise nutrients that are delivered by cornbread stuffing covered in gravy? Or do you feel that fostering a relationship with food that is based on guilt and shame is in my best interest?

This question is custom-made to make someone feel ashamed.  I think it’s asked for one of about three reasons:

Judgment

The person asking the question has decided that it is their job to pass judgment on your activities.  Being too cowardly to directly state their opinion, they use this question as a mode of passive aggression to “make you admit it to yourself”.  This is one of those situations where they would probably claim to be mistreating you for your own good, also known around this blog as “Pulling a Jillian“.

If the person asking this question truly cared about you and your health (however misguided they might be), they would talk to you about it in person, alone, at an appropriate time, and they would ask a question that invited dialog, not try to embarrass you in front of people while you’re eating what is supposed to be a celebratory meal. That right there is some bullshit.

Power/Superiority

Remember that some people never got past Junior High and nothing makes them feel so powerful as judging someone else and then making them feel like crap. Maybe because they are drowning in…

Insecurity

The person asking the question perhaps struggles with their weight, their guilt about eating etc. and since they feel guilty for enjoying the food, they think that you should feel guilty about it too, or they want to deflect attention from their behavior to yours.

The degree of difficulty on discerning someone’s intent in this sort of thing can range from “no duh” to “who the hell knows”. Here’s the thing though, from my perspective it doesn’t matter why they are asking it:  I am not ok with being asked, and I get to choose how I am treated (as least when it’s done to my face).

So you’re at a holiday meal, you take seconds on mashed potatoes and someone asks the dreaded question:  “Do you need to eat that?” It seems like the table falls silent, waiting for your reply.  What do you say?

First, quell your rage and resist the urge to put them down (Yes, I do need these mashed potatoes.  Did you need to marry that jerk?)

Second, as with so many situations where people lash out at you, remember that this is about their issues and has nothing to do with you.   If emotions well up, consider that you may be feeling embarrassed and/or sorry for them, and not ashamed of your own actions.

Now find your happy (or at least your non-homicidal) place, and try one of these:

Quick and Simple (said with finality)

  • Yes (and then eat it)
  • No (and then eat it)

Answer with a Question (I find it really effective to ask these without malice, with a tone of pure curiosity.  If you’re not in the mood to have a dialog about this, skip these.)

  • Why do you think that’s your business?
  • What made you think that I want you to police my food intake?
  • I thought that you were an accountant, are you also a dietitian?

Pointed Response (be ready with a consequence if the behavior continues)

  • I find that inappropriate and offensive, please don’t comment on my food choices
  • What I eat is none of your business, and your commenting on it is unacceptable to me
  • I have absolutely no interest in discussing my food intake with you

Cathartic (but probably not that useful if you want to create an opportunity for honest dialog)

  • Yes, because dealing with your rudeness is depleting my glycogen stores at an alarming rate
  • If I want to talk to the food police, I’ll call 911
  • Thanks for trying to give me your insecurities, but I was really hoping to get a Wii this year
  • No, but using my fork to eat helps to keep me from stabbing you with it

Guilt is not good for your health. So I hope that if you choose to eat it, you also choose to enjoy it.

Published in: on November 13, 2011 at 7:50 am  Comments (45)  

45 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sad thing is I’m almost GLAD we’re so broke this year that visiting any of my husband’s family is entirely out of the question. Because that absolutely makes me stabby and they do it every dang time… that and the “oh I’m so NAUGHTY… I’m going to have to work out for HOURS to work this off” because they took an extra half a slice of pie and ate two bites.

  2. Great article! These tips could also be used for general life situations for everyone. I agree with your idea about boundaries and consequences. For example, as someone who has always been kind of a doormat, I’ve been used, abused, stepped on, and kicked down. I have been setting my boundaries and figuring my consequences for the people who repeatedly do that and treat me with no respect or little respect. It’s when you start to gain self confidence and you realize that you deserve better treatment, it becomes easier to rid the toxic individuals from your life.

  3. These kinds of questions aren’t just limited to food, y’know. If it’s a family holiday thing, some folks feel it’s open season on your life choices, not just weight.

    “When are you going to give me some grand children?”

    “You look like you’ve put on weight.”

    “Nice haircut. Really hides your double chin.”

    “Gotten a real job yet?”

    “Why don’t you find a nice man and settle down for a while?”

    “There’s a gal at my office with a really sweet nephew/niece…I’d be glad to hook you up…”

    And the variation on your theme…”You really gonna eat all that? Your plate is just loaded!”

    Sometimes I don’t even bother with words. I just start passing gas and let it speak for itself. Honestly.

    • So true… sometimes it seems like the one thing that families are really good at is judgement.

      This is sad but funny… my grandmother has short-term memory loss, so she asks the same questions 20 times a visit. The ones I get are ‘So, do you have a ‘special friend’?’ and ‘You look like you’ve lost weight’ (even if I haven’t). My family members and I come up with more subtly ridiculous responses each time.

      • There are people in my family (namely, my mom and my aunts) who like to comment with, “You look like you’ve lost weight” as well — again, even when I haven’t. Or, a variation — “Are you losing weight?” usually in response to talking about exercise/activity.

        I have to admit, I’ve learned to love giving a cheerful, “Nope!” as a response. It confuses them to no end (confused that I’m not losing weight and confused that I could be happy with this result).

    • “When are you going to get out there and find a new man again? You aren’t getting any younger!”
      Yeah–and I’d get old a lot faster being in (yet another) toxic relationship. No thanks!

      • Oh, and I just remembered this one–this person had the audacity to say to me “you’ve had such bad luck with men, why don’t you try sex with women?”
        Out of the blue and out of nowhere–what the fucking fuck?
        Believe me, if a person could choose their sexual orientation, I would have done so by now, because I really have had terrible luck with men.
        I would never say anything so clueless and invasive to somebody. I don’t know what some people are (not) thinking. One’s sexual orientation is hardwired. That would be as bone-headed insensitive as me going up to a gay person and saying “okay, you’ve had your experimentation phase. Now it’s time for you to behave ‘normal’ and find a partner of the opposite sex.”
        Seriously. Some things you just cannot make up!

  4. “Do you need to eat that?”

    “Well.. no.. I suppose I don’t *need* to. Are we not eating anything we don’t actually need at this moment?” *in a loud voice* “okay everyone! throw all the food in the bin! Stop eating right now! You don’t need to be eating this unless you are currently in clear and present danger of starvation. mom- drop those mashed potatoes!”

    Or- just silently start taking up plates and when asked what you’re doing “well dear Lucy here doesn’t think we should be eating unless we actually *need* to be doing so.. so I’m taking up the plates of everyone who isn’t currently in danger of starvation”

    I don’t get anything like this from my family but possibly because the only part of my family I speak with are my siblings and mom and we’re rarely all together for a holiday.

  5. Another response: “HAHAHAHAHA!!!!” at the ludicrousness of the question.

    I finally snapped and had this response completely naturally one Christmas season when mom came to lurk over me as I was making breakfast, and pronounced, dourly, “The problem with you is that you eat too much oatmeal.” WTF? What’s that even supposed to mean? All I could do is laugh!

    I haven’t been able to respond this way to every slight since then, but it’s helped to try, and to have the memory of that. It just highlights how silly and inconsequential some of these statements are.

    • Too much oatmeal? I’m always getting the “One day you will be old and you will have to eat oatmeal or die of a heart attack, so you had better start learning to like it now” lectures. (Also, the “Wow, you’re having scrambled eggs? You know what eggs do to your cholesterol, right?” Because scrambled eggs cooked with mushrooms, onions and peppers, and a side of home fries is going to kill a person if they eat it a couple of times a month, and can’t possibly be an appropriate “I feel like cooking this weekend!” occasional treat. This is doubly ridiculous coming from my father, who breaks out the Belgian wafflemaker and makes waffles soaked in butter and syrup every bit as often as I make eggs, so I know he’s familiar with the concept of “This is a perfectly reasonable breakfast if you don’t eat it every day.”)

  6. i still remember burning in shame when my aunt pointedly reminded me that “crackers count toward your daily total too hun…try some carrots or broccoli instead” turst me im fat. i know how to fucking diet i promise. At this point, i had been bulimic for 2 years, and proceeded to throw up lunch.

  7. Hilarious, but more important, empowering.

  8. Awesome, just awesome.

  9. I’m lucky enough that my mom’s side of the family, the side I’m usually with, doesn’t engage in much shared food shaming. A person or two is occasionally on a diet, but they don’t try to police other people’s actions. They do occasionally express mild heebie jeebies at things I eat, just because I eat things that are really weird to them, but rather say things like “more for you!”

    Also, we go to Old Country Buffet for holidays. The point is that everyone gets to eat exactly what they want, so usually the only discussion is “I really like the baked fish here, I’m glad I can have fish on Thanksgiving if I want. I’m not the biggest fan of turkey.” and “Seriously I’m going to stop this time before I’m uncomfortably full.” a promise which is usually partially lived up to – eating barely to the point of only mild discomfort. Then we go back to my grandparents’ house (where there are bowls of chocolate everywhere and a stack of Muenster slices and string cheese in the fridge if you need a snack) to hang around, chat, digest, and take naps until the evening when we break out the homemade desserts. It’s pretty awesome, and I love holidays with my mom’s side of the family.

  10. There’s usually only four-five of us in the immediate family who do Thanksgiving together and rarely does diet talk or fat shame come up. Most of the conversation is gossiping about people we know that died, are sick, got in trouble with the law, or if it’s my grandfather and stepdad, Ravens football. ;-)

  11. I rely on Miss Manners to get me through any question like this, by replying with a “Why do you ask?” and a smile.

    And I employ my special, nasty smile. The one where I convey both niceness and the impression that I could easily rip someone to shreds.

    This kind of answer forces the other person to back up, and say something in response. Usually, they have no response.

  12. Love your blog…it’s nice to know that lots of us have the same problem. Wish I were fast-thinking enough to respond to those comments, but my Mom always manages to blind-side me–leaving me gawping and helpless. For instance: during a family dinner she actually slapped my hand away from the bread tray snarling, “You don’t need that!” (I just left the table to cries of “don’t be ridiculous!” and “get back here!” ) or a telephone conversation in which we were discussing the weather and she announced “Well, you’ve got so much blubber hanging off you, no WONDER you like it in the north.” (my response? “CLICK.”) However, I feel guilty cutting off communication even for short times since she’s 96. (She’s also likely to live to 110, and she’s not skinny.)
    Also appreciated your reference to “pulling a Jillian.” To my shame, I watched that show and was sucked in, until the episode where two beautiful women came in as partners and one was shamed, abused, and denigrated–with the whole group jumping on her. (Mainly because she was strong enough to resist and not break down and grovel and cry.) It was a horrifying example of bullying.
    When the two women met months later, the one who’d stayed on at the ranch blithely said, “…but we’re still friends…”
    My Outcast looked coldly at her and said, “No, we’re not.” and then she got up and left.
    That woman pointed out that the real reason for the show was a paean to Bullying) She never broke, she never cried, she never lost her dignity. She was and is a true hero. I’d like to see her recognized. If I knew her name, I’d send her fan letters.
    (No, I don’t watch Biggest Loser anymore–but I understand that their fan base has dropped drastically since Jillian-the-abuser left. That certainly should tell us something important.)
    Thanks,
    Peg

    • Ah, a comment I can identify with. When Mom doesn’t think she got her point across by mere verbal nastiness, she resorts to something physical. I imagine this scenario stitched together with the second part of your comment – you stand up for yourself and NOT ONE other person in the room says something in your favor. They’re more likely to tell you not to be so hard on your mother, after all she’s getting old, she didn’t mean it, you’re too sensitive, why don’t you listen for a change, bla bla bla. My mother’s been dead a couple of decades so this isn’t a problem for me these days, but Ragen or Golda (or anyone else), can you give some tips on handling what feels like a gang attack? Especially if you’re in a situation where you might need some temporary financial help from a parent and you can’t afford to alienate them completely.

  13. My relatives don’t police me or each other, but they are certain to make comments like “I don’t need to eat this” and “I shouldn’t be eating this much.” Now that I have given myself permission to be happy and satisfied, I just feel sorry for them.

  14. My family is kind of erratic about approaching holiday food. Sometimes, people have a really good attitude (“Here is a lot of delicious food, take what you want in whatever portion you want and enjoy!”). If one person goes off about dieting though, they all jump in. And my dad (who is also fat and chronically dieting) tends to be rather “It’d be good of you to lose weight” while my mom pushes vegetables but also worries (to a sometimes pushy extent) about people getting enough food, which means that on a bad day I can get my mom piling things on the plate and my dad seeing the plate and giving me a lecture on portion control.

    I tend to have worse eating habits (both in terms of conventional “good” eating habits and in terms of what’s good for me) when I’m visiting relatives, which doesn’t happen when I’m a guest visiting other people.

  15. How about, as a reply to “Do you need to eat that?” the question, “Do you need to ask that?” And then just stare at them.

    Although I also like the idea of saying “No!” and then eating it with relish.

    I get the question “Have you lost weight?” a lot and also try to cheerfully answer “Nope!” For some reason, since I have a standard-sized body, I apparently sometimes looks skinnier and sometimes look fatter–maybe depending on what I wear?–so people are always saying, thinking they are bestowing a compliment, “Wow,you look like you’ve lost weight!” It’s hard to know what to say, since I know they are (misguidedly) trying to say something nice. It is a huge trigger, since I have always had weight and eating issues, but I don’t want to make them feel awful when they were actually trying to be nice. I usually attempt to slip in the phrase, “I try not to worry my pretty little head about things like weight,” with a smile, which can get them off track but in a pleasant way but still points out that focusing on weight is not necessarily a positive thing.

    I’d also like to find some phrase to say when I hear people going on and on at a festive meal about how they themselves “shouldn’t” be eating this or that, how fattening it is or how decadent they’re being. I want to say, “When I hear you say that, it really spoils my appetite and makes me sad,” but I don’t want to be even worse of a killjoy than they are. I have mentioned at that juncture that I’ve heard that in Europe it is considered an insult to the host to say something like that at a meal, but I’d like to add something new to say to people who have heard that from me already, like my family.

    Any ideas about how to encourage people you’re with to quit the habit of shaming themselves out loud when they’re eating something delicious?

    • “Does guilt make that taste better? No? Then why not just enjoy it?”

    • My problem with the “Oh I shouldn’t be eating this, I’m too fat already, or I’m being so “bad” today, is when it is said in front of children. Namely my nieces and nephew. I don’t want that baggage hurled at them during an impressionable time, or to think that kind of shame talk is “normal”, or that they are “bad” if they eat a cookie. I am very fat, and have already been informed of that information by my nephew. I told him that yes I was and asked if it was OK with him. He said yes, but is still very curious about my body. I think I am the fattest person in the family, and I feel obligated to try and shield them from the stupid comments and “interventions” that my family tried to make me not get fat. The thing is that I wasn’t even really that fat. I think if they just left me alone and let me develop a natural relationship to food that I wouldn’t be where I am today. Sorry, I got a little OT.

  16. I feel sorry for the “food police” types during the holidays, really – the comments they make to others are also an internal litany that starts when the Christmas carols do, and doesn’t stop until January 1. How many articles do you see online or in magazines this time of year about “dodging holiday fat traps” and “avoiding the dreaded holiday pounds”? It’s incredibly sad that people are so obsessed with fat and calories that they can’t just relax and enjoy being with their loved ones. That might not be a bad thing to point out when someone makes an inappropriate comment during a holiday meal – “I thought today was about enjoying each other, not about watching what we put in our mouths.”

    My husband and I will be making a reduced version of Thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us this year. The menu we’ve got planned includes all of our favorites, and the “paring down” has more to do with not wanting to waste food than with counting calories – there’s only two of us to deal with the leftovers. While I’m very thankful to have him, we’re definitely going to be remembering the people who are no longer at the table – we’ve lost a lot of beloved family these past few years. Everyone, please don’t let fat shamers get to you – enjoy the time you have with the people you love while you still have them.

    • I am sorry to hear of your losses.

      When I was “doing” Weight Watchers for the 5th or 5 thousandth time a group leader told us that the holidays are not about the food, they are about the people. Sure, the people are the most important thing, but for a holiday like Thanksgiving, it is absolutely about the food. All throughout history people have been celebrating with “feasts”. I always found that statement moronic.

  17. Ahhhh, the holidays! Love ‘em, hate ‘em for many more reasons that what you mentioned! Now I have a few more comebacks to my usual arsenal when the barrage of questions begin….of course, this year they will also add the questions about what happened to my job and why haven’t I found another one, etc.
    Thank you!! Another awesome post from a truly awesome person doing truly awesome work!!
    PS…great meeting you in Dallas at Uncle Julio’s!! :)

  18. Reminds me of my cousin trying to shame me for eating raw baby carrots (!) before Thanksgiving dinner due to their carb content. I gave her my favorite answer, “I’m glad you found an eating plan that works FOR YOU.”

  19. My family is more self-deprecating than anything else. I have asked them to try to tone it down when we’re around, because I don’t want my daughters to hear that, and I try to put it in perspective when they do.

    Sorry if this is triggering for anyone; I’m not sure what that means, but I don’t want to make anyone feel bad, just tell what happens to me and how I deal with it.

    There are some friends of my step-father-in-law (is that even a thing?) that are pretty bad, though. His best friend has many daughters, all thin, who come to certain gatherings. My DH and I are kind of oddballs anyway, nerds in a sports family. These women have a way of making fun of me while ignoring me at the same time. I eat chips with this awesome avocado dip my MIL makes, and they stand nearby chattering about how much fat is in it and how they’d never eat something so fatty (They are missing out!). They also make fun of me in other ways, repeating things I say (usually things I say to the kids, they’d never do this in front of my in-laws or their father, or my husband) and laughing.

    Rather than stand up for myself (pointless) or complain (makes me the bad guy), I make it clear that I will not go to any gathering if they are there too, and that I will leave if they show up. Why should I go somewhere and deal with that when I can just stay home?

  20. BTW, it is also perfectly okay to have eggs in some form every day, as we do much of the time at my house. I eat what I want, when I want, not necessarily more for a holiday, because I don’t need a once a year treat. I come from an extreme abusive, dysfunctional family & have a great many issues with holidays; the next 7 weeks or so is the hardest time of the year. I end up usually spending major holidays at my son’s house, often with is even more dysfunctional in-laws in attendance, but at least my son’s in-laws never comment on my weight or what I eat, unlike my own brothers in years past.

    And one would think that a woman of 96 would have learned that it is okay to eat whatever you want, to be fat, that it is not evil, & will not cause ‘early’ death, but too often, that is not the cause, because they hear all the tapes from when they were younger & sometimes never learn with age. I have a mother-in-law who is nearly 90 who is still convinced that she ‘needs’ to lose 40-50 pounds; fortunately, I have not shared a meal with her in many years & never intend to do so again. Whatever I eat in her presence & even if it is a food that, mostly for economic reasons or because I don’t want it often, I only eat a few times a year, as far as she is concerned, it is always too much.

    Life is too short to allow people to push your buttons or to make you feel badly about the body in which you live. Of course, it is easier to say that at 62 than it was at 22.

    I wish us all the best holiday season possible &, for those of us for whom it is really difficult, the best survival possible.

  21. Great suggestions. Here’s another… Agree and Distract… “It’s a FEAST for heaven’s-sake, and I’m feasting! Isn’t this delicious! Kudo’s to the cook!”

  22. I definitely agree with Jo that the Miss Manners response of ‘why do you ask?’ is the best way to go.. though I also think O.C. is onto something with the burst of hysterical laughter. And I do love your option of simply saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and then eating as you please, anyway. Refusing to be brought down to a rude, childish level and allowing oneself to be treated like a doormat are two different things.

    There’s one brother who will never sit at my table again, and I don’t think he gets to this day why that is. But I don’t cook for people who berate me about my weight and act as though eating my cooking is the same thing as swallowing poison. I know plenty of people who will happily eat anything I put in front of them and who don’t give a damn how I choose to feed myself.

    I will not spend the holidays with someone who chooses to shame me. Nobody but nobody is allowed to treat me like crap at my own table ever again. In fact, if someone chooses to shame me while I’m at their table, I’m going as quickly as possible and not going back. Just because I don’t own the table doesn’t mean they get to be rude to me. I don’t eat with people who go out of their way to upset my digestion.

  23. What would your reaction be to having a family member refuse to give you a particular food or a certain helping size? Have you ever had a family member or friend try to “parent” you and decide what is right and wrong for you?

    It’s happened to me on several occasions. Mostly at family functions. I’ve been refused to eat desserts several times. Which is why I make myself responsible for bringing desserts to family meals. Nobody can tell me I can’t have a slice of the pie I brought with me.

    • What the … I am so sorry that happened to you. My reaction would not be something like “How DARE you think that you can tell me what I can and can’t eat. I have no interest in eating with you or spending time with you until you can treat me and my choices with respect. I’m leaving right now. Contact me when you’re ready to apologize and change your behavior to treat me with respect.”

      ~Ragen

    • Honestly, that would be a family function dealbreaker for me. While I’ve had family members make food and weight comments on occasion, the only times actually negotiating portions has come into play is when it’s down to the last of a particular food.(And I think it’s totally reasonable to ask if anyone else would like the last portion of pie/potatoes/bread/etc. before taking it, so that never bothered me.) If, however, someone actively made my food choices for me — well, I’m not eating out of the Gerber baby jars anymore, you know?

      • My son has always been a very strong willed person. Even when he was a little fellow, not quite a year old, he refused to eat what came out of the Gerber jars except for pudding! He wanted very finely chopped or mashed versions of “regular” food and he made it known! His favorites included potatoes of any kind smashed up, well-cooked fish of any kind that was soft and flaky, and applesauce. He still has a pretty good innate sense of eating what his body needs. Apparently his body also needs pepperoni, as that has always been his favorite kind of pizza. ;-)

    • My mom sometimes does this lovely number: says something about watching what she eats (read this as: I need to watch what I eat), and making sure my father doesn’t have too much…. and then, if I don’t want dessert, makes a big deal out of it. Um…. what? Yeah…. love how that works.

  24. I read this the other day and found it fascinating but didn’t really feel like it had happened to me recently. Then we went out to eat with my BIL and SIL, to an themed/entertainment restaurant. My DH and I ordered, you know, food because that’s what you do at restaurants. The we proceeded to, you know, EAT our food. BIL sat there (not eating) and said “Whoa! Did you guys skip breakfast or something?” It was SO loaded. I felt it made a commentary on the fact that we were eating, the speed at which we were eating and what we were eating. And as I sat there and just looked at him I realized that BIL a-l-w-a-y-s comments on what ppl are eating. He comments to me, he comments to SIL. Both SIL and I are w/in normal BMI and yet BIL has this strict, rigid, controlling idea that women should not eat and that it’s therefore unfeminine to eat. And he NEVER misses an opportunity to comment on it. It just goes to show that having controlling idiots comment on your food intake has very, very much to do with the person saying it and nothing at all to do with the person it’s being said to!

  25. First time reader and I love this entry. I loved the last cathartic response about the fork. I am 5′ 9″ and 220. I wear an 18 on the bottom and a 14 on the top. For YEARS I focused on losing weight. Now I’m focusing on eating healthy, exercising, and loving myself for who I am and you know what? Life is slowly but surely getting better. And I haven’t lost a pound! Thanks for your blog.

    • Hi Melanie,

      Welcome to the blog! I’m glad to hear that you are finding a path to heath that is working for you. :)

      ~Ragen

  26. I just saw this video, and I think it would make a great response to “do you need to eat that?”

    • That was awesome. Thank you so much for posting this video.

  27. Here’s my problem–I don’t have a problem defending myself (being in med school and being able to quote research out the yinyang helps), but my problem is that this holiday means that I see my cousins, who are both fat, and their kids, one of whom tends toward leanness and the other that tends toward fatness. Sadly, the latter one is a girl who is subject to so much damn food policing (DON”T EAT THAT CRACKER yaddayaddayadda). It just sucks, because I want to sweep her away and let her eat whatever she wants–and because you can see her trying to cram all of the restricted food in her mouth before someone polices her, thus leading to the cycle that everyone reading along probably knows well. Thus far, I’ve been trying to randomly chime in about how such and so is delicious, but damn I don’t know what to do. Is there anything else to do? I don’t really feel like I can have A Talk with the parents (I see them 2x/year, maybe), even more so because I don’t have kids, but damn I want to help my little relative.

    • If you are in a conversation and someone else is being confrontational to another, do you stay around? If it’s your kids, do you correct them by saying, “I don’t want to hear that kind of language.” I feel it’s the same thing here.

      A possibility is to say, “Y’know, I’m eating here, too, and I don’t like to feel guilty about what I eat any more than anyone else here. When you say that, I feel hurt, too, and it spoils my appetite. I think the food is great.”

      Another idea is to say, “I’d rather eat my meal in peace.” And if you have to take your plate into the kitchen or the T.V. room, do it. You might be joined by the others whom you love and don’t want to be hurt, if they decide they want to be with you. I doubt the people who want to be food police would follow you, because now they have control of the table. If they do follow you, then it’s time for a private confrontation and a clear laying of a boundary.

  28. Very good article!

    “I have a way that I insist upon being treated. If you can’t live up to that then you just don’t get to be in my life and it doesn’t matter if you’re the mailman or my father. I give people clear information, and several chances, but I don’t keep anybody in my life who consistently fails to treat to me with the level of respect that I require. That’s how I do it but it’s not for everybody so what I suggest is deciding what your boundaries are, and what the consequences for breaking those boundaries are.”

    I really like your words :)) very well put!!

  29. BRILLIANT!!! Thank you!!


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