Human beings are most connected to one another through sharing food.
Our religious holidays are celebrated with food.Family gatherings are centered around food.Going to a restaurant for food is a great way to get to know potential romantic partners.We eat at office parties.Food is served at a block party.Gathering around food brings to an end the Rite of Passage.The mother who breastfeeds her baby is the first time we form a bond with another human being.Food can be a source of conflict. This is partly due to our strong attachments to one another.
There is the family conflict.
The unspoken friendship conflict is: “If I don’t feel uncomfortable, you will continue eating the same food that we have been eating together.”There’s also the silent vampy conflict. “I don’t like her thinking that she’s better than I with all the healthy food choices she makes.”
Food is social and can make it difficult to choose from different options than those around you.
You might find support from others when you make the important change from unhealthy eating habits to healthier ones. Others might be inspired by your choices, and choose to follow in your footsteps.Others might view your choices as personal. Others might react as though healthier food choices are a reflection of their choices.Food as a social bonding medium has a dark side. It is loaded with social judgments. People judge each other and themselves based on what they eat.
It’s more than “healthy or unhealthy” types of judgments.You might not be saying “no” to a person who offers you a meal that symbolizes love or friendship. They may assume that you are not saying no to the symbolism of the food to you.
It is complicated to handle, especially considering the fact that it is already difficult to make the switch to healthy eating habits.You don’t have to deal with social issues around food. You don’t need to give in to social pressure or isolate yourself from those with unhealthy eating habits.It is important to be aware of how complicated the topic of food can be for some people and to prepare in advance.
It is usually enough to have a few explanations of your food choices.
You can navigate a social minefield easily by having a ready explanation for your “no” to certain food items. This will minimize the tendency of some people to view your choices as personal.
Let’s take, for example, the scenario where you visit your parents who believe that refined sugar is a great invention of the modern age and Dad is selling pie.
Dad: “You don’t want a piece from your mother’s pie?” It took her all afternoon to make it!
You: “It looks so delicious. But, I was so full from her delicious meal. “I’m so full!” (Slightly lied – it was not so delicious and you aren’t that full.
Dad: “Well, here’s a little bit.”
You say: “Well, I want it to taste good when I am able to appreciate it. You should take some with you. Anyway, dad, I heard you got a new… !”
You don’t have to tell a polite lie if you are uncomfortable with it. Then find your little bit of truth. It’s important to frame the story in a way that makes people feel comfortable and safe. They will be less likely think you are judging them.They shouldn’t take it personal, of course. Reality isn’t always what it “should”. It is what it is.
People are who they are. It’s important to have a strategy that works for all social situations.
If you are sticking to the carrots and hummus at the office party because everything else is loaded with sugar and chemicals, you could briefly explain to anyone who asks you why you aren’t trying the amazing hydrogynated-oil-high-fructose-corn-syrup delight, that you’ve noticed sugar makes you feel tired, and you want to see if you start feeling better if you cut back on it.
This explanation keeps the problem and solution about you. It’s not about your weight. It’s not about willpower. It’s not about “good food” or “bad food.” It’s not about “good food” and “bad food.”
Food can be very emotional, especially in these times of junk food and obesity.
If you don’t want to interact with others about your “strange”, healthy food choices, please prepare a short, personal explanation of why you are refusing certain foods. This will both respect your choices and deflect intrusive reactions.