Diet culture is everywhere, and what’s most frustrating is that almost everyone makes it their duty to pay attention to how we eat and how much we weigh.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to protect ourselves, especially if we receive such comments from loved ones. Relatives often say without a second thought the phrases “I’m worried about your health” or “I think you will be much happier if you start exercising regularly.” So they try to motivate us, but they don’t even suspect that they give rise to new complexes.

It is important to remember that we live in a society that routinely hammers into our heads that being thin means being happy. It takes a long time to get rid of this stereotype. Fat shaming is still thriving, and people draw certain conclusions about us just by looking at our figure. Moreover, this can come from anyone: the attending physician or Aunt Nadia, who came to visit on the wedding anniversary of her parents.

In each of these cases, you must learn to confidently define and defend your boundaries. And in different situations, this can be done in different ways.

How to behave when it comes to diets

Situation #1

In a company or at a party, someone starts talking about their diet and exercise routine. You don’t want to talk about it.

In such a situation, you can leave under the pretext that you need to say hello to someone. Or be honest and change the subject, like “Don’t you think we talk too much about diets? Let’s talk about books. What interesting things have you been reading lately?

Diet culture has become so ingrained in our lives that for many, talking about food has become a way to get closer. By changing the subject, you show that there are other ways to find common ground. Well, if you decide to just leave, you will save your nerves and time.

Situation #2

At a family celebration, one of the relatives looks at your plate and says: “If I ate all this, I would gain so many kilograms.”

In your response to such remarks, it is better to concentrate on yourself. For example: “I used to be too hard on myself when it came to my menu. But it only increased my obsession with food. Now I try to listen to my body and eat what I like and cheer up.

No one will argue with what is right for you. Your relative, of course, can try to do this, after all, no one has canceled rudeness. However, this approach will help to effectively fight off all attacks. If you do not want to spend energy on this, just say that you do not want to discuss this topic, and move to a more pleasant conversationalist. It doesn’t matter if your relative understands your reaction or not. The main thing is that you are comfortable.

How to behave when food is divided into “good” and “bad”

Situation #1

You buy or eat candy or fast food, and a friend makes a remark in the style of: “Did you decide to eat something bad?”

In response, try asking directly what is so bad about candy. You can also point out that you don’t eat exclusively sweets and burgers, or respond with such a phrase: “There is nothing terrible in having something delicious to snack on sometimes.”

Another possible strategy is to go all in and say frankly that you don’t like these lines. So you emphasize the absurdity of dividing food into “bad” and “good”. We all have the right to eat what we want. And if the body asks for a chocolate bar from time to time, there is nothing reprehensible in listening to it.

Situation #2

After a week-long vacation, a loved one offers to eat “cleanly” and properly.

In this case, the reaction might be: “I don’t fully understand what is ‘clean and right’ food, otherwise it turns out that there is ‘dirty and wrong’, but it’s not. In addition, when we consciously avoid certain products, we, on the contrary, only obsess over them more.”

You can also clarify what caused the partner’s desire to change the diet. Perhaps he wants a clearer menu after the holidays, when you went out to restaurants all the time and had spontaneous snacks.

In a situation like this, it’s important to explain to a loved one who wants to maintain a healthier diet that there are other ways to do so.

Situation #3

You are sitting on a bench in the gym, taking a breath, and someone next to you says: “Trying to shed pounds after the belly feast?”

Exercise doesn’t have to be the balance of what you eat. After all, physical activity has many benefits beyond weight loss. Thinking that you definitely need to go in for sports in order to “make amends” after a delicious dinner only leads to nutritional problems.

Besides, such a remark is simply rude. And you don’t have to answer. Ignore the impolite comment and keep practicing. Or say, “I don’t want anyone else’s opinion about my body or how I exercise.”

If your friend or buddy made a remark about kilograms, explain in response that everything does not work that way. You go to the gym because you enjoy exercising and it has nothing to do with your menu. This will make it clear that your body and what you eat should not be the subject of conversation.

How to behave when professionals talk about food

For example, your doctor mentions that you’ve put on a couple of pounds and need to “watch your diet.” No matter how you feel about your weight, such a comment hurts, especially if you have already tried to lose weight. And such a remark can make you feel that your progress is not noticeable at all and means nothing.

If you feel uncomfortable having to weigh yourself in the doctor’s office, be open about it. You can clarify that you feel much better physically and mentally when you don’t follow the numbers, and remind you that the stress caused by beauty standards provokes even more health problems. Note that you are ready to stand on the scale only when it is really necessary. As a patient, you have every right to express your wishes. With this approach, you no longer have to wait in horror for an appointment with a doctor and stand on the scales with a sinking heart. All this will help you feel more in control of the situation.

The truth is simple: your body belongs only to you. You have every right to set clear boundaries if such situations spoil your mood or lead to eating problems. Of course, it is not always possible to formulate an “ideal” answer to other people’s claims, and this is normal. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything at all, especially if you don’t feel like doing it.

Do not forget that listening to your body and reckoning with its desires is the best way to take care of yourself. This is the only way to form a healthy and positive relationship with food and with yourself.