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How You Talk About Food Matters

I came across two really great articles this week that I wanted to share with you, as we enter into Thanksgiving, AKA "the day with all the food". Both articles are about people who undermine your health goals - whether it's intentional or not.

How To Deal With People Who Undermine Your Health

This article offers some great responses when you chided for making the healthy choice. Whether it's Thanksgiving, or a random Tuesday, this can be a helpful way to think tactfully through a response. It's the "what you want to say" vs "what you should say" response to the jokesters and naysayers.

For example, has this ever happened to you?

The situation: While the rest of the table starts with fries and mozzarella sticks, you opt for a salad. Your friends are immediately annoyed:
“Of course, you always get the rabbit food."
"Are you on a diet or something?”
“Ugh, I can’t imagine eating just a salad for dinner.”

Or maybe this one strikes close to home.

The situation: Seeing family means you’re instantly fair game for unsolicited commentary on everything from love life to career choices. But today's hot topic is your body:
“You must work out all the time—you've lost so much weight!"
“You’re so thin! How much do you weigh?”
“Looks like someone could stand to eat a cheeseburger!”

While you might be able to consider new friends - those who don't mock you for ordering a salad - you can't pick a new family. So thinking through a helpful response before you find yourself in the hot seat can be really helpful. Hint: many of the answers involve a short, polite answer that segues into new conversation. Read the whole thing here.

7 Ways to Host A Thanksgiving Dinner That Supports Eating Disorder Recovery

Unfortunately, eating disorders affect many Americans - not all of them women or girls. For a holiday that is all about food, this can be a situation wrought with anxiety and fear. As in the other article, it can be so easy to undermine someone's progress, or add to their stress and anxiety about the day.

"If you're hosting Thanksgiving for a guest with a history of food-related issues, you can't eliminate every single trigger from your table. But there are some small things you can do that will have a huge impact -- for them, and for all your guests."

For instance, my favorite one is tip #1 - stop asking people if they've lost or gained weight. It can be really easy to make comments on appearances when it's been awhile since we've seen someone. But the message that it sends is "weight is the very first thing we notice in this house". I'm going to assume you (want to) believe that you have value aside from how much you weigh. And I'm assuming that if you stop and think about it for half a second, you want everyone who walks into your home to know that they are more than a number on a scale. Stop making the weight comments - you are more interesting than that.

Another great suggestion is to have some activity before and after the meal. The negative self-talk and negative thoughts can get carried away in anticipation of the meal, or after it is eaten. Thankfully, Thanksgiving requires a lot of work. Whether it's setting the table before or doing dishes after, enlist in the help of those around you can provide a welcome distraction from all the food.

If you're magical and don't need help prepping or cleaning, consider a group walk around the neighborhood or playing a game of cards.

For the other five suggestions, check out the article here.

Ultimately, remember that how you talk about food and your own body matters. Off-handedly commenting on the eating habits of others is rarely helpful, and often hurtful. Health takes on many different forms, and how we speak to ourselves and one another is a big part of it.