5 Ways to Shut Down Body Bashing This Holiday Season
By Pooja Patel--The holidays can be tough! Attempting to juggle the stresses of constantly being surrounded by food and people is A LOT, especially if you struggle with an eating disorder or weight-related issues.
Everything from your mom slyly (in her opinion!) eyeing you from the corner in hopes of seeing your food intake to your grandparents asking why you’re not eating can create an uncomfortable environment. Here at Proud2Bme, we know that the holidays and their subsequent interactions can be stressful! So to help you out, here are some uncomfortable questions and statements you might hear and responses to help you combat them!
All responses are broken up into two parts: a scenario in which the people around you already know about your ED struggle and you don’t mind divulging (Do Divulge), and a scenario in which many people around you may not know your struggle and you don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing (Don’t Divulge).
1. Is that all you are going to eat?
Do Divulge: Person X, I know that you may be trying to encourage me to eat more and challenge myself to make progress in my recovery, but when you ask a question like that I cannot help but feel targeted and self-conscious about my food intake. Thank you so much for your support and concern, but let’s try to use better, more encouraging lingo!
Don’t Divulge: Person X, thanks for your concern! Yet, this is what I feel comfortable eating right now. Let’s focus on the holiday cheer instead. What’s your favorite holiday movie?
2. Goodness—you have so much self-control, don’t you? I wish I had that!
Do Divulge: Unfortunately, it is not really self-control, but actually a disorder. I know that media is often centered around dieting so my struggle may just seem like a part of that; however, it is important to understand that it is not something to be praised, but something to be worked on.
Don’t Divulge: I don’t think it’s necessarily an issue of self-control. Let’s just enjoy the company, and enjoy being with each other! How is work going?
3. Are you eating more?
Do Divulge: Person X, I know that you may be trying to make a joke or keep an eye on my recovery, but when you ask a question like that I cannot help but feel targeted and self-conscious about my food intake. Thank you so much for your support and concern, but let’s try to use better, more encouraging lingo! [Yes, this is the same as the response to question one—when someone uses negative language to question you about eating too much or too little, you don’t need to engage with their judgments; let them know you’ll only respond to responsible, empathetic language.]
Don’t Divulge: The more the merrier is what I always say! I hear you got into graduate school. How is that going?
4. Make sure to watch the holiday weight gain!
Do Divulge: I actually try to avoid talking about triggering things like weight gain in order to focus on my overall health and happiness! I find those things in reading and listening to holiday music. What about you?
Don’t Divulge: Oh, perhaps we shouldn’t worry about that, but rather enjoy the company and focus on our health and happiness!
5. Why don’t you just eat?
Do Divulge: Actually, my struggle with ED doesn’t just revolve around food. It also revolves around control, body image, habit and compulsions, among other things. So just eating doesn’t really solve the problem. I understand it can be hard to understand for those not experiencing it, but it’s important to realize that eating disorders aren’t just about food, much like gambling addiction isn’t just about money, or alcoholism isn’t just about being drunk.
Don’t Divulge: Person X, I realize that you are simply trying to fix a problem that you see, but it is not as easy as that. Thank you for your concern though! I was meaning to ask Person Y about something so I’m going to go and try and find them. See you later!
About the blogger: Pooja Patel studies neuroscience and philosophy at Barnard College, Columbia University. She does research at a CU neurobiology laboratory, which emphasizes anticipation behaviors, circadian rhythms and biology. She has interned off and on at the National Eating Disorders Association for about two years. Pooja enjoys reading, dancing, watching mindless TV and keeping up with fashion trends.
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