You’re going to eat THAT?
How could you possibly manage dessert?
Oh, right, you can’t eat anything because of your allergies.
Well you’d never eat this because you’re so healthy.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? All of the above are things I’ve heard, either directed at me or someone I was with, and all are forms of food shaming. Well, I’m here today with a post/rant of sorts stating that is has to end and sharing 5 ways to stop food shaming.
First, a little background. What exactly is food shaming? Basically, it’s commenting, positively or negatively, on what someone else is eating (or not eating), making the other person feel ashamed or embarrased.
Food shaming can come in many forms. It can be making someone feel bad for eating dessert or making someone feel bad for NOT eating dessert. Here’s an obvious one:
You’re going to eat MORE? But that’s so full of carbs/butter/sugar/whatever-hot-new-food-item-is-the-devil-this-week.
Here’s one that’s a little less obvious:
I don’t think I could possibly fit dessert, but you go ahead. It looks delicious.
In both instances, someone is judging and someone is made to feel guilty. The person in the second scenario probably doesn’t mean any harm by their comment and probably doesn’t know they’re food shaming, but they are.
As someone with food allergies, I get food shamed all the time for my food choices. It’s annoying to here things like, “I’m going to have this delicious cookie, but you go ahead and have that apple.” and “Here’s hamburger buns for everyone except for Nicole who’s being healthy.” and here’s my favorite, “We have someone at the table with a bunch of food allergies, but the rest of us are normal.”
Do you think I want to turn down delicious goodies all the time? Do you think I like always having to double check if a dish at a restaurant is free from 5 different allergens? No, I don’t. But I’ve learned how to make the best of my food allergies and I don’t need you to make me feel bad about choosing foods that won’t make my stomach go on rampage for days. Ok… end rant. Let’s take a look at what we can do to put an end to food shaming.
- Keep your thoughts to yourself. We all know the rule: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If you don’t approve of someone’s food choices, just keep it to yourself. Unless that person has specifically asked you to help them with a diet or keep them on track, mind your beeswax. Even if they have asked you for help, choose your words wisely. Offer constructive, helpful criticism vs. just telling them they shouldn’t have whatever it is they want.
- Announce your choices ahead of time. Say you just got back from a long run or maybe it’s a special occasion. Maybe it’s just Wednesday. Whatever the reason, you decided you’ve earned/simply want a nice big dinner WITH dessert. You’re out to dinner with someone that might be a judger. Before the meal starts, state your meal intentions. “You know what, I’m going to have dessert tonight!” On the flip side, if you’re goal is to be healthy, state that, too! “I’ve been doing really well on my diet, so I’m going to get a nice big salad and maybe make some healthy tweaks to it.” Tell whoever you’re with that you are going to eat what you want and not feel bad about it.
- Call food shamers out. Someone at the table makes a judgment. Call them out! You can be as blunt as, “Don’t food shame me!” or a little more subtle, “You know, this is what I want to eat. You can eat or not eat whatever you’d like, but this is what I” Even if they didn’t mean harm by their comment, calling them out may make them realize that they’ve made you feel bad and will keep them from doing so to you or someone else in the future.
- Be confident in your food choices. The best way to stop someone who is trying to make you feel bad about your choices is to not feel bad about them! Obviously, this is easier said that done, but know that you want to make healthy choices because it will make you feel good and will help you reach your healthy living goals or that you want to try something new or that you just want to treat yourself with dessert. It’s your life. Do what you want. Eat what you want. Who cares what those judgers think. They’re just jealous of your food freedom and happy taste buds.
- Don’t food shame yourself. I don’t know about you, but I am my biggest critic. If I make an unhealthy food choice, a lot of times I make myself feel guilty. Well, from this moment on, I’m going to do everything in my power to not food shame myself. I won’t feel bad about asking a waiter to check that my order doesn’t have soy or wheat or peanuts or corn or lactose. I won’t feel bad about having two bowls of cereal for breakfast if I feel like it. I will not be a food shamer!
Have you been the victim or perhaps been guilty of food shaming?
How will you work to stop food shaming?