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With Thanksgiving approaching and Christmas around the corner many people around the world find themselves spending prolonged periods of time with immediate family and relatives from near and far to celebrate the holidays. This can be a time of joy, tradition, thankfulness and also anxiety, overwhelm, grief and heightened tension.

Oftentimes disagreements can arise from differences in political/religious beliefs, to which sports team you root for, to the best pizza topping. Chances are you don’t see eye to eye with everyone gathered around your holiday table. And as such, there may be family members or loved ones that are still steeped in diet culture, and make it difficult to be fully present in the holiday season (and great food that comes with it!). 

We’ve pulled together some of the most common “diet culture” remarks heard throughout the holiday season as well as helpful options for how to respond to these comments if you encounter them. These suggestions are intended to help you find a sense of peace and set boundaries in what may be an emotional time for many! And they’re just that – suggestions – so feel free to adapt to your personal preferences and context. 

1. “I didn’t eat all day to save up for this meal” 

  • I’m sorry to hear that. You must be really hungry and not feeling too great!
  • Not eating isn’t a badge of honor. 
  • I had breakfast, lunch and snacks and am also equally excited and ready for this meal! 

2. “I’m going to need to work all of this off tomorrow”

  • Why? You just ate a holiday meal. You did nothing wrong and it’s nothing your body can’t handle.
  • The food was so delicious, right? Want to know why? Because guilt wasn’t an ingredient
  • Or you could just relax and join us for X,Y,Z activity tomorrow? It’s okay to rest. 

3. “Calories don’t count for Christmas!”

  • Calories actually don’t need to be counted ever – holiday or not. 
  • Spending Christmas worrying about how many calories are in that cookie/treat/meal etc. sounds very exhausting! 
  • Have you heard of intuitive eating? It involves giving yourself permission to have foods at any time, so you don’t only have to eat these items only during Christmas and takes away the “forbidden fruit” appeal. I’d love to chat more about IE if you’re interested! 

4. “Have you thought about trying XYZ diet or workout regime?” 

  • I actually choose to eat and move my body in ways that respect and honor it rather than trying to change it. 
  • Diets and weight-loss workouts aren’t my thing! I’m really interested in intuitive eating and health at every size approaches. If you’d like to learn more, I’d love to share about it. 
  • Nope. And walk away. (Yes, it can be that simple!) 

5. “My New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and get healthy – what about you?”

  • That seems to be a common one! But I actually choose to focus more on what I can add (e.g. a new hobby, routine, perspective, practice etc.) rather than what I can take away from my life.
  • It’s kind of a bummer that when answering the big, exciting question of what we want out of the fresh year ahead, people usually just focus on their weight and appearance. We were meant for so much more than that! 
  • I also am focusing on being healthy – but that actually isn’t related to my weight – I’m focusing on treating myself with compassion and nourishing my body with what it needs. 

These just scratch the surface, and holiday-related diet culture comments come in a variety of different shades. Take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Sending so much compassion if the holiday diet culture, and those around you stuck in it, feels like an uphill climb in these coming weeks. You’ve got this and I’m so proud of you.