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How I Confronted Those Who Were Food Shaming Me

Creator:
Published:
May 27, 2024
May 27, 2024
Read this article to find out how to confront those who are food shaming you.

Writer’s note: TW — there is mention of an eating disorder in this article. 

I used to keep a secret stash of food in my room. It was the one place I could eat it guilt-free, with no comments from others — except my inner voice, which I had become good at blocking out.

I have been on the receiving end of food shaming since I can remember. It first happened in the modeling industry: “Here’s a list of drinks and food groups you need to give up so we can get you down to the proper size.” (For reference, that was a size 2.)

Or when an ex-boyfriend insulted me: “Do you really think you should have that? You’ve been eating a lot of junk food lately, so I don’t think you need that pizza slice.”

I also experienced it from a past doctor: “Your BMI indicates you’re morbidly obese. Have you considered going on a diet or seeing a dietician?” I haven’t weighed myself in over 10 years thanks to her “professional advice.”

And then the steady flow of remarks from others: “How many calories are in that?” “That’s all you’re going to eat?” “You never finish your plate.”  These were often followed by sighs and words mumbled under their breath when I’d order certain things at restaurants.

Because of these comments, I looked at food as a delicacy, something I had to be worthy of to consume. I’d eat one meal a day, convincing myself that I was full (cue the stomach growling) or that I had to earn each bite. If I did an intense HIIT workout, that would make up for the calories, right? These narratives ruled my thinking.

After years of experiencing food shaming and the harmful mindset that resulted, I confronted those who quite possibly didn’t recognize that they were hurting me. If you’re in a similar situation, here’s what helped me face the elephant in the room.

Attend therapy regularly

Therapy is what has helped me most on this journey. It has taught me to sit down and have those much-needed conversations. To know I can wear clothes I thought I couldn’t due to body dysmorphia. To believe that I can have dessert after dinner. To recognize that it’s okay if I don’t finish my meal because I really am full. 

Other than my dear therapist, “my people” have checked in on me, asking if I have eaten a sustainable amount of food, or if they can bring something over and have heart-to-heart conversations. As someone who is still dealing with this, it’s nice to receive a simple message like, “Have you eaten today?” 

Speak up

I used to hate confrontation and avoid it at all costs. But I’ve realized it’s better to relieve your emotions than to bottle them up and overthink them.

So I sat down with people individually and addressed my concerns with them. I shared how their words have damaged me and stayed in my mind. How I was on the brink of developing an ED. Thinking twice before eating or drinking something. Exercising ‘til exhaustion. Experiencing brain fog and fatigue. Letting my body be starved of nutrients it deserves and needs. Physically shaking because I was deprived of nourishment. 

These conversations were difficult to have, but I’m grateful I had them. One thing to remember if you’re in this situation: these are your feelings. Nobody can tell you they didn’t hurt you. Maybe it wasn’t their intention, but they need to know how their words made you feel. 

Enough is enough — break the cycle

Dr. Ninoska Peterson from Cleveland Clinic has explained the possible causes behind people food shaming others:

“These judgments could come from your own experience or the culture you grew up in. They could also be generational and framed by the trends of the time. Currently, it seems like a lot of these thoughts are influenced by social media. But family history, your relationship with food or even childhood eating patterns can play a role in food shaming.”

Two big parts of our daily lives are family and social media. Although we can control our social media intake, we cannot control what someone says to us. We can control how we talk about food to others, though. And that’s where we find an opportunity to break the cycle. 

We are not going to pass our trauma along to the next generation. Our children and grandchildren will know what it’s like to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies. They will love themselves wholeheartedly because food does not determine their worth.

Do what’s best for you

You know yourself best — better than your family, better than your peers, better than your doctor. Nobody else knows your body like you do. You’re the one living in it for heaven’s sake!

If there’s anything to learn from this article, it’s this, “You will be remembered for the way that you are, not the way that you look.”

Eat the damn cake. Drink your favorite handcrafted coffee. Indulge in chocolate or pasta. Feast on those holiday meals (no, you don’t need to exercise in order to earn them). As long as you’re eating in moderation, feel no shame.

And if someone asks, “Are you really gonna eat that?” You can respond with, “Hell yes, I am!”

* * * 

To tell you the truth, I’m still healing. It has taken years of therapy to start repairing this draining part of my life. But it’s an improvement from where I started. The inner child in me is coping with words and actions that trigger her. But deep down, she knows she’s safe now, and she can have whatever she’s hungry for.

Creators:
Anonymous
Published:
May 27, 2024
May 27, 2024
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