By almost overwhelming request in last week's
scientific random poll, you all wanted to know how to deal with dumb, annoying, and triggering comments about food and weight. And because I love you all to bits, here are my thoughts.
1. It's unavoidable. People are going to say something stupid. It's inevitable. You can't prevent it. There's nothing you can do to stop it, so don't waste time trying. Save your energy for figuring out how to cope.
2. Take a deep breath. Before you do anything--before you freak out, before you call someone a douchebag, before you start crying--breathe. Anything you say or do will still be a good idea after you take a few good, deep breaths. It gives you a few seconds, a little time to calm down and let your wise mind get stronger.
3. It's not about you, it's about them. When someone says something about how you look or what you're eating, it says that that's what they're noticing. It doesn't say anything about you. People are going to notice things, they are probably going to look, but bringing it up (unless it's a matter of acute concern) is kind of rude. So don't take it personally.
4. Know your limits. Before you go into a situation, try and get a grip on what you're willing to let slide, what you're going to comment on, and from whom. There are people in my life who have never understood, will never understand, and there's no point in getting them to understand. My response is generally grunting or something similar. I've had other people who have a chance at understanding what's appropriate and helpful and what's not. So I will speak up with them. Knowing the difference can save you a lot of hassle.
5. Don't explain. You don't owe people an explanation for how much you're eating or how much you weigh. You can answer questions and still provide minimal information. If someone comments that you're too thin, you can just say you have trouble keeping weight on. If they comment on your food, you can say that you're working with a doctor and nutritionist to meet your nutritional needs. It's your health and your life, and you don't need to explain it to anyone if you don't want to.
6. There's a time and a place for snark. Despite my having plenty of appetite for snark here on my blog, I generally steer away from it in my real life. I've had complete strangers and random medical professionals tell me idiotic things. Generally, I let it rip to complete strangers and others I won't have to deal with. When it's a person I have to deal with a lot, I keep my answers much more aboveboard.
7. You can choose not to answer. It's not the same as letting people walk all over you. It's not the same as being evasive. It's you being in charge of your life. It might piss some people off. That's okay. Your goal isn't to make everyone happy. And with that, see the next tip.
8. Keep your goals in mind. When dealing with difficult situations, I try to ask myself the goal of this interaction. Sometimes, it may be to educate the person about stupid things they shouldn't say. Sometimes, the goal is to get them to shut the hell up. Others, it might be getting through the interaction without strangling the other person. That goal will help guide how you choose to respond.
9. You always have a choice. Your choices can suck. You might not like any of them. You might wish you had different ones. But you can always choose how you respond. Are you going to choose health, life, and recovery after someone comments on weight gain, or are you going to go back to the eating disorder? The first one may feel more uncomfortable now, but it's more rewarding in the long run. You can choose to walk away from rude, insensitive conversations. You can avoid people. You can surround yourself with supportive people. You can choose to attend a holiday dinner to keep the peace and put up with dumb diet talk.
I hope these ideas help.
Share your suggestions in the comments section!
By almost overwhelming request in last week's
- binge eating disorder
- biology of EDs
- body image
- disordered eating
- eating disorder
- Grand Theory of Eating Disorders
- narrating anorexia
- normal eating
- obesity hysteria
- weight gain
- weight loss
- Carrie Arnold
- I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.
Drop me a line!
nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote
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