How to Respond to Food Shaming

It can be hard to extract yourself from unhealthy narratives about food, especially since so many people struggle with their own issues with food.

What I know for sure, is that you can’t control what other people say or do, BUT you can control how you react. And as you heal your own relationship with food and discover eating intuitively, you’ll be sure to trigger your diet loving counterparts.

Food shaming is when someone criticizes your food choices because it doesn’t align with their personal preferences or opinions of what they deem to be “good”.

If you’ve ever been the recipient of “I thought you were on a diet?” or “are you really gonna eat that?” monologue than you know what I mean. Food shaming runs deep into our diet culture veins. And here’s why: a (very) large percentage of our society has a distorted relationship with food.



So what can you do?

First of all, Breathe! Not only does this work for food shaming but for other triggers too. Remember to breathe and focus on the breath coming in and out of your nose for at least 30 seconds (the food shamers can wait a hot minute). I do recommend practicing this so you can remember to grab this tool when you need it most.

Get curious. Is this really even about you? Or is this about their own insecurities of their food choices? Relationships with food are not black and white, their grey. So, can you see the underlying cause of their food shaming comments?

Then there’s the old classic subject change. It’s okay for topics to be off-limits. And you’re allowed to decide which topics those are and when you want to engage in them. It's called boundaries. Let the food shamer know politely that the topic is off-limits and you’re not open to discussing it with something like, "I don't want to talk about it." There is really no need to explain further unless you want to.

Respond WITHOUT judgement. Judging someone for their judgemental remarks is a vicious cycle. Responding with something like: “You know, I used to feel that way too. But lately, I’ve been eating intuitively and it has really allowed me to feel more comfortable in my body and with food.

Get vulnerable. Sharing your struggles with food may open up an entirely different narrative. This depends entirely on your audience, so read the room. Vulnerable needs to be met with empathy and understanding, so if the person speaking to you is incapable of either of those – use another approach.



What to do next...

  1. Any questions? Leave me a comment below.

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© 2020 by Jenna Lessner

Calgary, Alberta

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