Food is ingrained into so much of our culture. As a dietitian, I talk about food all day, everyday…sometimes even when I’m not at work. But you know what? The way we talk about food matters. A side comment made in passing can create a whirlwind of internal turmoil for one who is or has been sensitive about their body or the way they eat. Somewhere along the way- in the past thousand years- it has become acceptable to make unsolicited comments about what others are eating. Well I’m here to tell you, it’s not.
Here are 5 things not to say about food during this holiday season…
1. Avoid commenting about the food or lack of food on another’s plate. A lackadaisical comment about a roll or extra scoop of green bean casserole will achieve nothing in that moment. But such a remark can create an obsessive thought process about eating in public- how much is okay to eat in front of people and is this a socially acceptable food? Specific phrases to avoid: Are you sure you should eat that? I thought you weren’t eating that food anymore?
2. Avoid commenting on how much someone is eating. I don’t know about you but my body tells me when I’m full, not Joe Shmoe over there. If I eat a fourth of what is on my plate or if I eat three plates- it is not a place for commentary. Specific phrases to avoid: I can’t believe you can eat all of that. Are you sure you want to go back for seconds? Is that all you are eating? You eat like a bird! That’s a really big piece of pie- someone will be on the treadmill for awhile tomorrow.
3. Peer pressure is not okay. Avoid commentary that encourages someone to eat a food they do not want. If someone does not want a piece of your pecan pie or the homemade hot rolls- they will survive, I promise! Do not continually ask/pester/question why they are not eating the pie. Specific phrases to avoid: Just one piece won’t hurt you. You have to have _____ , it’s the holidays! This is the best pie, you sure are missing out.
4. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. Not pie. Thanksgiving is still Thanksgiving if I don’t get to eat my granny’s apple pie. I still get to see my family. I still get to spend an uninterrupted day with my husband and new puppy. I still get to have a warm place to eat a great meal. Specific phrases to avoid: It’s not Thanksgiving without _______.
5. Avoid negative self talk and guilt associated with food choices. Food is food- that’s it. Your food choices do not own you or determine your self worth. You will not be a better or worse person based on the food on your plate. Make your choices and own it.
This post was adapted from https://www.buzzfeed.com/ariannarebolini/what-not-to-say-about-food-at-thanksgiving