I can't ever decide if my favorite part of the holidays is trying to navigate a meal while dieting or fielding all the questions and inappropriate remarks from friends and family in regard to my diet. Both are just so damn fun to deal with, you know? I've spent the better part of my 31 years watching what I eat in some capacity, and I've also dealt with a lot of comments when it comes to food. Frankly, 99 percent of them are things that should just not be shared.
A weight-loss journey is something that's very tough to go through in general, and it's never something I've enjoyed, but have accepted as part of my life. I will always need to be careful with what I'm eating, and I think that sucks. I wish I could eat what I want, when I want, but I know that's not realistic for me, and it should be up to me how I talk about it with other people as well. Snide or flippant comments from the peanut gallery are not cute or funny, so here's my advice for those of you who might be sharing a meal this holiday season — or literally at any point in your life — with someone who's making an effort to watch what they're eating. All of the following questions or comments are off-limits.
"It's just one meal. Eat what you want."
I hear this pretty much every holiday or special meal. Sure, I might often plan ahead for a special meal and make sure I can eat a little more freely than a normal meal, but that doesn't mean I want to go off the rails and stuff every last bit of bread in my face. It's a slippery slope to let one meal go, because then that turns into two or three, and I know how I operate. I'll convince myself that any meal can be a "special meal." Oh, I got really good feedback at work today — special meal. I hit a goal I set for myself — special meal. I hit snooze 13 times this morning instead of 14 — special meal. I actually brushed my hair today — special f*cking meal. You see? I will do this. So don't try to convince me to eat off my plan just because someone dubbed this day special. Let me decide.
"But you don't need to lose weight."
OK, first of all, thank you for that compliment. I do appreciate it. However, that's not up to you. Maybe I'm not trying to lose weight. Maybe there's another underlying issue that you can't see but that my doctor and I are dealing with. You can't pretend to know everything about the person across the table, so even though you think you're saying something nice, you actually have no idea what's going on.
"Are you sure you want to eat that?"
Repeat after me: I have no say in what other people eat and therefore should keep my mouth shut. I usually have a tough-love friend (or oftentimes my mom) who knows their role in my weight-loss journey is to make me rethink things I'm deciding to eat. If one of them asks me if I'm sure I want to eat something, they get a pass, because I've asked them to do that and they know that when I inevitably snap at them, I don't mean it.
As for the rest of the people around the table, they have no business asking me if I'm sure I want to eat something. That decision is up to me, and even if you know I'm dieting and you think you're helping, all you're really doing is making me feel bad about myself. Maybe I planned ahead so I could have dessert after the meal. You don't know. Don't question me.
"That diet didn't work for me, so you shouldn't bother."
Did you know that no diet is one-size-fits-all for every human who tries it? Guess what? No diet is fail-proof for everyone. Just because something didn't work for you doesn't mean it won't work for me. Let me figure it out on my own.
"I'm so glad I don't have to watch what I eat."
You know what, I'm really glad you don't have to watch what you eat either, because it's pretty not fun. But please don't rub your fast metabolism or superior genetics in anyone's face. I don't resent you for being built different than I am, so please don't think I hate you because you're skinny. I may sometimes be envious that you don't have to work as hard, but I also feel really fulfilled when I'm successful with my hard work and healthy eating.
"You were more fun when you were fat."
Believe it or not, someone said this to me once after I'd lost a considerable amount of weight and started eating much healthier meals during get-togethers. I no longer wanted to share the greasy appetizers or fried desserts, but I was still me. It was just me eating a salad instead. My personality has never changed, despite all my weight fluctuations, so even though you think it's a joke to say someone is more fun when they're fat because they would eat a lot more, it's not funny at all.
If you feel the urge to say any of those things to a friend or family member, rethink it and keep it to yourself. The only time it may be warranted to mention what someone's eating is if you've noticed a huge change in someone's behavior, like if they've stopped eating completely and are rapidly dropping weight. That could be a sign of something deeper than just a healthy weight-loss journey, and if that's the case, you should bring it up to someone. But in any other situation, tuck into your meal and enjoy your company around you, no matter what they're eating.