Many of us have been there. We're eating a scrumptious meal - when someone nearby suddenly says to us, "You're still hungry?!" Or how about, "You're so good. Your meal is so healthy!" Or, maybe someone doesn't say anything, but gives that look of disgust which sends the message that what you're eating or the amount of food that you're eating is bad, gross, or wrong. None of which is acceptable. Yep. Being surrounded by diet culture frequently results in judging others based on their food choices and body size - or being on the receiving end of this judgement.
I should know. While I wasn't living with an eating disorder, I previously dieted off and on for decades. I remember being in my 30's when someone criticized me for "eating too much." This was right after I ate an extra slice of tomato after finishing my meal. I also remember when I was more thin-bodied because I had lost some weight, and people were telling me that I looked so "healthy" and would typically smile in amazement when they saw me eat larger meals.
Here's the thing. Making comments about someone's plate of food may cause that person to feel anxiety, anger, and embarrassment - and may result in implementing harmful behaviors around food and the body. In other words, it can be damaging. No one is less or more of a person based on food choices, the amounts of food eaten, or body size - and ALL bodies are good bodies. If you're on the receiving end of these comments, I'm really sorry. You have my empathy. If you're looking for some ways to address diet talk, you can find some of my tips in my blog post, "Obtaining Support During Your Intuitive Eating Journey."
As we work to develop a healthier relationship with food and our bodies, it's important to tune into our food preferences, thoughts, emotions, and our bodies' internal cues. Not someone else's. When we go out to eat with people, it really shouldn't matter if they're eating a salad while we're eating a burger with French fries. You also don't deserve to receive the comment "Oh, you're ordering pasta?! There are so many carbohydrates in that? I'm trying to be good!" There's no being "good," or "bad," here. By the way, carbohydrates are the gold standard for energy! You should be able to feel completely comfortable and confident around food - including when the people you're eating with decide to stop eating and you continue to eat because you're honoring your hunger/fullness cues - or you simply want to eat more!
What sounds good to you in the moment? Give yourself permission to think about what flavors, textures, and temperatures will be the most appealing in that moment. When you're tuning into your hunger and fullness cues, remember that we all have different energy needs. No one body is alike! This means that we all have different appetites - which is a good thing - because our bodies need different amounts of nourishment from one another.
Your degree of hunger can vary from day to day. It's important to honor your hunger - even when you think you shouldn't be hungry - in addition to exploring which food combinations help you feel both mentally and physically satisfied. Before I began working with Intuitive Eating, I sometimes questioned how I could possibly be hungry a couple of hours after eating a meal. As it turns out, my body thought it was starving as a result of having restricted my food intake. I wasn't eating enough food. After working wtih Intuitive eating and doing some internal housekeeping, I now honor my hunger on a regular basis - and help others do the same as a virtual non-diet dietiian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.
So we've talked about why it can be damaging to make food plate comparisons with one another - and be on the receiving end of those comments. We've also discussed how in Intuitive Eating, it's important to tune into our food preferences, thoughts, emotions, our bodies' internal cues, and really honor our hunger. If you find yourself being criticized for your food choices or the amount of food that you eat, please try to remember the things that I discussed earlier. I would encourage you to read my blog post, "Obtaining Support During Your Intuitive Eating Journey," where I share some talking points to help you deal with diet talk that might be directed at you.
The bottom line is that there will always be people around us who consume more or less food - and different foods. You are worth so much more than what you eat or your body size. You are worth so much NOW. As you work on becoming an Intuitive Eater, it's critical to tune into your needs. Not someone else's. You deserve to receive the same amount of respect from those around you - and to live a life well-nourished.
If you would like to work with me to develop a healthier relationship with food and your body, or address general wellness concerns, click here to learn more about my virtual one-on-one sessions. Happy eating!