When I was a little girl, my grandparents commented on what I ate.
All the time.
I can remember being six-years-old at a family brunch, and my grandparents saying, “ Wow, you are a big eater. What an eater. So much food.”
To say that this impacted me would be an understatement: I ultimately developed a very complex relationship with food. Not because of grandparents commenting on it – that couldn’t have been the sole reason – but it certainly didn’t do any good to a vulnerable little girl.
As a nutritionist and someone who is very interested in helping women heal their relationship with food, I really think it is DANGEROUS to comment on a child or teenager’s plate of food – whether the opinion is positive or negative.
Of course we need to give our children guidance and be good role models when it comes to eating healthy food, but I worry that commenting and criticizing a young person on his or her food choices can quickly become problematic.
In fact, I think it is also dangerous when friends comment, judge or criticize what you are eating. (Note: they usually comment when they are insecure about their own eating habits anyway.)
DO teach yourself to have a conversation with your family and friends. You can be assertive without being aggressive and simply let them know how you feel.
DO stand up for yourself. Politely let the commenter know you do not need their opinion or blessing when it comes to your food choices.
DO help your parents understand what you are feeling in a gracious way.
DO explain your food passion and passion for healthy living to your parents.
DO let go and give people space to have their judgments. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but you don’t have to agree.
DO be honest about your legitimate dietary requirements. Most people will respect it and want to be sure you are taken care of.
DO learn to say no thanks and stick up for what you want – because that empowers other people around you to do the same.
DO figure out what makes you feel good on your own. It may not necessarily be what you have been told.
DON’T listen to what the magazines or Instagram tell you. That requires some experimentation and listening to your body!
And if you have children?
DON’T put your food and weight insecurities onto your child.
DON’T comment on weight and food at family functions or in front of young people. I recently heard a little five-year-old say “I don’t like carbs.” How does a five-year-old even know what carbs are?! This child has heard it from someone who fears carbs and probably says it all day. Children pick up on what we’re doing. Let’s set positive examples for them!