Dealing with Food & Weight Comments at Holidays

Madeline Myers
MSW Intern

Dealing with Food & Weight Comments at Holidays

With holidays coming up, from Thanksgiving to Haunnakah to Christmas, family and food are a big theme these coming months. While this can be a wonderful time of year, it can also be stressful or hurtful with comments about food and eating. While you may be on your journey toward body positivity or body neutrality, your family may still be stuck in body shaming and sizeism (discriminating against people based on size or weight). Here are some ways to deal with these unwelcome comments at your next family gathering:

Have responses ready to go

There are many ways you can respond to unwelcome comments about your size, weight or plate! Try thinking of a few and practicing them on your own before the holiday. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • “I’d rather not discuss that today.”
  • “I’m not concerned about my size/weight.”
  • “I hear your concern, but it’s healthy for me to nourish my body.”
  • “I like my body.”
  • “My (doctor, nutritionist, therapist, etc.) and I have discussed my eating, and I’m following those instructions.”
  • “That comment makes me feel bad.”

Practice setting boundaries

Sometimes instead of using phrases specific to a situation, we want to set overall boundaries with people. These are ways to let someone know how you want to be treated. Here are some examples of boundaries you can set:

  • “It makes me feel bad when you talk about my weight. Can we talk about something else?”
  • “Please don’t make comments about what I’m eating or how much I’m eating.”
  • “I work hard to have a healthy relationship with my body, and I’d rather not hear your opinions about me.”
  • “That’s not an appropriate thing to say to me.

Find an ally for your holiday

Do you have a cousin, aunt, uncle, or any other family member you feel comfortable talking to about eating, size and weight? If you do, it can be helpful to talk to them about your worries for the holidays and ask them to support you the day-of. This could be texting to check in, backing you up when you deal with unkind comments or situations, or however else would make you feel supported. If you don’t feel comfortable with members of your family, try contacting a friend you can check in with to provide support and encouragement.

Question their comment

Sometimes asking a question about someone’s comments can take them off guard, while feeling less confrontational for those of us who struggle with that. Here are some questions you could ask:

  • “I’m not sure what you’re trying to say to me.”
  • “Did you know that talking about my appetite makes me feel uncomfortable?”
  • “What do you mean by that?”
  • “Are you saying that I shouldn’t eat today? I’m not sure why I shouldn’t.”

Walk away from the situation

Sometimes talking isn’t an option, and that’s ok! You have many ways to deal with this on your own. You can walk away from the person or situation. You can also practice other coping skills to distract yourself, encourage yourself, or stay calm. Having a list of coping strategies can be really helpful for uncomfortable situations like this!

If you find yourself struggling this week, reach out to us on the chat. We can help you make a plan or just navigate your feelings about eating, self-image, family, and the holidays. 


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