Transcript of Podcast – Coping With Unwanted Feedback

food-police

Here’s the transcript for the podcast Coping With Unwanted Feedback – How To Deal With The Food Police And Food Pushers

Hi there….this is Penny. I want to welcome you to Remake my plate where I post about life after weight loss surgery. After spending the majority of my life overweight and trying just about everything to lose it I chose to have weight loss surgery in November of 2004. For the past 9 years I have maintained a 130 lb weight loss but it hasn’t been without its ups and down.

When people know you have had weight loss surgery they suddenly pay extra special attention to every bit of what you are or aren’t eating. And, if you’ve ever tried to lose weight before, no matter what the method you have chosen, the holidays seem to be when these people come out in full force to watch, comment and criticize every little morsel of food that goes into your mouth. If this has happened to you I’d like to offer a few tips that I’ve found helpful over the years when it comes to dealing with these people.

First it seems that those who offer unwanted feedback seem to break down into two different groups – the food police and the food pushers.

The easiest people to deal with are the food pushers. These are the people who keep offering you more to eat. Most of the time, when they keep offering food, they really mean well. Maybe they’ve noticed that you’re not eating your favorite dish and offer you some. Or they might have made something special for you and want to make sure you have a bit. If this hasn’t already happened to you then be prepared. Sooner or later it will. Rather than take what they’re offering and eat it when you really don’t want to here’s a few ways I’ve found that seems to help with the food pushers.

       *  Offer a simple no thank you. Yes sometimes it’s that easy. Simply smile and tell them no thank you.

* You can say something like “oh that looks delicious but I’m full right now and I’ll try a bit later”. If the food pusher keeps coming back to tell you to try a particular dish you may even want to tell a white lie and say “I already had a bit and it was quite good”. Most of the time people just want to make sure you’re enjoying the food and if they see that you don’t have much on your plate it’s natural for them to offer you something.

       * Another technique that might work is to accept whatever it is that they are offering. Just put a little on your plate but don’t eat it. Or, if it is something that you do want to eat, try just a bit or two. That’s usually enough to make the food pusher happy. You don’t have to finish all of it.

       * Another great idea is to ask for it to go. Sometimes accepting the food is the only way to make the person happy and keep the peace during a family gathering. Why not tell them you’re full from eating all of their delicious food right now but you would love to take some home. Now you’ve complimented them, which always make people happy, and you haven’t turned their offer of food down. Once you’ve left the party there’s nothing that says you have to actually eat what you’ve taken home. While I grew up being constantly told that there were kids in other countries who were starving and would love to eat what I was about to throw out I’ve moved past that parenting guilt trip. If I don’t want to eat it I toss it out.

The second type of person I’d like to talk about is the food police. These are the people who seem very intent on monitoring what we put on our plates. They often pass judgment on what we are eating. Sometimes they are simply people who mean well and think that they are offering helpful advice on healthy eating. Other times they are being less then helpful and seem intent to keeping a watchful eye so they can point out a situation where they feel you are breaking the rules. While I’d like to think everyone has your best interests at heart when they are playing food police I will warn you that some do not. Eventually you will come across someone who is quite happy to point out the fact that they think you are eating something “wrong” or “bad”. They might even toss out a snappy comment saying that they just KNEW you would fail and eat things you weren’t suppose to. This type of person is the hardest to deal with because they usually criticize you in front of others, shaming you for your choices, knowing that you might not have the confidence to defend yourself.

For the food police who mean well here’s how I’ve handled them:

       * Acknowledge what they are saying, tell them you appreciate their concern and educate them. If they say something like “Are you allowed to eat that?” You can respond with a simple yes. If you choose to offer more information you can say yes my dietitian or doctor said these are things I can eat. And then drop the subject.

* Dealing with the food police who are intent on trying to hurt you is a bit tougher. Sometimes they can be redirected and other times it might require calling them on what they are actually trying to do.    

       * You can say to them “I appreciate your concern” and then ignore them or walk away. Sometimes the food police who are in the process of trying to publically shame you are expecting you to offer up and explanation. I’ve found that trying to explain my food choices to them just keeps them coming back with more things to say.

       * Change the whole dynamics of the conversation by saying something like “I know you mean well but this really isn’t helpful” and then walk away.

I find that dealing with this type of food police is the hardest and my actual response is usually based on who’s making the comment.

In the end I find that having a few planned responses help with putting a stop to the food police as well as the food pushers. Just remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for what you do or don’t put on your plate and you certainly don’t need to eat something just to make someone else happy.

How about you? Have you ever encountered a food pusher or, even worse, the food police? How you have handled them? Why not leave a comment and tell others what ways you’ve found work best when dealing with these types of people.

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