How-To Deal With Family Members at the Dinner Table This Holiday Season

by in Family, Holidays November 25, 2019

How to avoid the “D” word during the holidays

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a family member or friend make a big deal out of your diet or wellness regime!

(I know I’m raising mine.)

With Thanksgiving later this week, many of us will be spending time with family and friends. And while we absolutely love them, sometimes they have strong opinions about what we eat, what what do, and basically everything going on in our lives! It can be challenging not to fall back into old dynamics that leave you feeling like you did when you sat at the children’s table.

Today I’m dropping some knowledge and I’m going to give you some actionable tactics to help avoid that stress, enjoy the holidays, AND stay focused on your goals. 

Nowadays, “diet” has become a lot like politics/religion – a topic that’s sure to ignite strong debate.

Some people have very strong opinions about what’s “right,” whether it’s vegan, paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, etc., etc., etc.

And as luck would (not) have it, those same people also seem to notice when you’ve made changes in your diet … and start making recommendations or throwing in their “two cents.” 

They might think they’re being helpful, but sometimes it can come off as pressure you just don’t need. Especially when they’re egging you on to eat something you don’t want (or can’t eat)!

Here are some ways to avoid the unwanted and annoying pressure:

1) Have a plan. If you have an idea that the topic will come up, think about how you’ll handle it ahead of time, so any old reactionary “buttons” don’t get pushed.

Some additional suggestions are below, but the safest (and easiest) route is to respect the boundaries you’ve set … but also respect their feelings.

Remember – it’s always OK to say “no thank you” with gratitude. You might even help them see that moderation is not deprivation!

2) Change the subject. If Aunt Mabel starts to grill you about what you’re doing differently, just say you’re “eating healthy and feel amazing.” And then change the subject to something she’s interested in. “How was your garden this year?” Right now is not the time to try and preach about Monsanto, gluten, Keto, or whatever else gets you up on your soapbox. Just leave it be for the time being.

3) Evade. If someone is trying to guilt you into eating something you don’t want, tell them, “Thank you.” And then say the meal was delicious and you’re feeling full … and maybe you’ll have a slice of that pie later.

4) Don’t bring it up. If food/diet is a sensitive topic, just don’t mention it. Be proactive and keep the conversation flowing about other topics.

5) Talk about politics. JUST KIDDING! Don’t do this!

Many times our loved ones  – especially older family members who grew up in a different generation – view food as a way of expressing love.

Their words can feel like pressure, but when you understand their good intentions behind them, it can help put things into perspective.

Basically, the bottom line is to be prepared, have your “go-to” responses ready, and guide the conversation to areas where everyone (including you!) will feel comfortable.

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