How to deal with food shaming

Have you ever been shamed for your food choices?

You have if anyone has ever said anything like this to you…

“Hey, haven’t you had enough to eat already?”
“Shouldn’t you stop eating now?”

If so, I’m sorry this has happened to you, because these comments are examples of food shaming.

These comments aren’t acceptable, not least because what YOU eat is nobody’s business but yours!

So if you’re on the receiving end of this kind of shaming, what can you do?

Well, in this post, I’ve got three strategies for you to try to deal with the food shamers, no matter WHO they are.

Watch or read below:

What is food shaming?

Food shaming is when someone judges your meal choices, commenting on them and making you feel ashamed of them.

Sadly, I frequently get emails and comments on my blog from people who have been victims of food shaming.

The food shamers are often family members who say things like…

“Haven’t you had enough already?”
“You’re not going to eat that are you?”
“You’re not eating again, are you?”

Dealing with food shamers

If you’ve been food shamed, I know it’s not nice. It can leave you feeling embarrassed, ashamed and unworthy.

So what can you do to address food shaming and boost your body image after an attack?

Well, I’ve got three strategies for you to try.

First of all, remember that food has no morals

You’re not a ‘bad’ person if you eat cake and you’re not a saint if you enjoy kale. So right now, affirm to yourself that what you eat DOES NOT define your worth.

Secondly, food shaming says more about the person doing the shaming than it does YOU

Any negative or unkind comments about your body or the way you eat reveal more about the person making them.

Food shaming is about the other person’s insecurities and fears around food, eating and weight.

It’s more than likely that the person doing the shaming is scared to eat certain foods, or restricts their food intake because of fear of weight gain.

Thirdly, it’s okay to call someone out on food shaming

You don’t have to put up with comments about what or how much you’re eating.

Your food choices aren’t anyone else’s concern.

How you deal with a shamer depends on who they are and if the shaming is persistent or not, but here are a couple of approaches to try:

Be clear about your right to be hungry or crave certain foods

Say the shaming is a one off and from someone you don’t know well (maybe a work colleague) and they comment on what or how often you’re eating.

You might say, “I know right? I’m really hungry right now”or “I’ve got such a craving for X.”

Leave it at that. Don’t try to justify your choices beyond simply responding to the natural hunger and craving signals your body is giving you.

Assertively ask persistent food shamers to stop. 

If you’ve been on the receiving end of food shaming by a serial offender, now is the time to ask them to stop.

Do so assertively by saying something like, “When you make comments about what or how much I eat, I feel uncomfortable. I don’t need to justify my food choices to anyone and I’m politely asking that you stop making these comments.”

If the offender refuses to see your point of view and/or doesn’t stop, you then have to decide if you want to stop seeing that person or restrict the amount of time you spend around them.

Food shaming is definitely NOT okay, so don’t stand for it. AND, if we want to create a culture that isn’t diet obsessed and fat phobic we need to call others out when we see food shaming happening.

Plus, don’t forget to examine your own behaviour to make sure that you’re not engaging in food shaming!

I’d love to hear if you’ve ever been food shamed, how it impacted you, and what you did about it.  Please leave me a comment below.

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