It’s Thanksgiving. Cue the over-exaggerated and unnecessary talk from friends and family about how they consumed over a gazillion calories, or how they’ll never eat again. Oh shut up. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. We must take into consideration that it can be a triggering and stressful day for those who’ve had or presently have eating disorders — especially as new faces gather around the table who may be unaware of one’s broken relationship with food.
While mindful dialogue around food is a goal that should be worked for at every meal, it’s especially important as we approach these food-centric holidays. In other words, DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR DIET OR HOW ‘FAT’ YOU FEEL, Aunt Barbara.
Here are 7 things that might just seem like harmless conversation, but are actually very triggering.
1. “I’m trying to be good so I’ll pass on the stuffing.”
Just say NO THANKS. By making a statement like that, you make others at the table feel that if they eat the stuffing, they’re being “bad.” Don’t label foods as good or bad — it’s common sense which foods are healthy and unhealthy; no one needs to be reminded. Hearing that may make one feel guilty/judged, or persuade them to also pass on the stuffing.
2. “What’s wrong with me? I can’t stop eating these sweet potatoes.”
While there is a good chance that you’ll overindulge at Thanksgiving dinner, and even engage in binge eating, don’t make a big commotion about it. For those who struggle with binge eating and portion control, you’re only making them feel guilty for a type of eating they may do more frequently than just on Thanksgiving.
3. “C’mon just try some…”
….after person has already said “no thanks”
Don’t force feed people. If someone refuses food once, don’t keep pushing them to try something. While it can be rude to pass food up if a family member worked hours to prepare it, I promise that the person is not doing it to be a d*ck. They’re probably battling something internally and right now that food is the enemy.
4. “I didn’t eat breakfast so I’d be ready for this meal.”
Don’t advertise your meal skipping. Don’t make people feel guilty for eating breakfast — breakfast should have been eaten! Don’t make it seem like this one meal is going to be soooo destructive to your diet that you have to cut calories elsewhere.
5. “Gotta hit the gym tomorrow to work this meal off.”
Good for you! But don’t emphasize to everyone how this meal needs to be worked off or how you worked out vigorously this week to prep for this meal. You’re only making everyone without a workout plan feel bad about themselves.
6. “You look like you’ve lost/gained weight.”
Refrain from commenting on another’s weight/body. If they do have an unhealthy relationship with food, commenting on their appearance may make them feel insecure, and incite them to eat a certain way at the dinner table.
7. “Wow, you must really love green bean casserole.” OR “Wow, you must really not have liked the green bean casserole.”
This pertains to commenting how much someone is currently eating at the table. Maybe they wanted an extra helping, or maybe they only took a spoonful and couldn’t finish. Don’t point it out. Trust me, someone with an ED is well aware of how much or how little they ate.