Around this time of year with the holidays of Passover and Easter just around the corner, it is a good time to talk about a category of people I like to call “food pushers.” These people mean well, but they have a tendency to start interfering with the hunger and fullness cues you have been working to develop. To help explain, I am going to tell you a story one of my previous employees who has been on her own mindful eating journey told me recently.
Lucy* had struggled with cyclic weight gain throughout college and it wasn’t until she started studying nutrition that she began to realize it is not about diets, but about living a healthy lifestyle. The more she started practicing intuitive eating principles, the more she stopped worrying about her weight, and was happy with her health. The problem was, Lucy’s mom had her own hang-ups when it came to body image that she would sometimes project on her. If Lucy appeared thinner to her mom, her mom would be more agreeable to offering her dessert, or encouraging her to take seconds at meals. But when she felt like Lucy was going back to her “heavier” weight, she would make comments like “Are you really that hungry? Do you need to eat more?”
While this frustrated Lucy, the more she listened to her own intuitive eating voice the less she cared about what other people thought about the quality and quantity of the foods she decided to eat. Recently she was shopping with her mom and sister and they spotted a candy that is only around during holiday time. Lucy and her sister purchased one and split it. Her mom said, “Did you need to eat that candy?” As she began to reply she realized there was no need for justification. There was nothing wrong with her eating that candy, it was not mindless nor was it in excess so she simply said, “yes” and everyone moved on. No food pushing (or pulling) away—just Lucy “trusting her gut” (pun intended!)
You might find that these people in your family, especially those you see only during the holidays, are the first to comment about your appearance and your eating habits. They typically have a tendency to comment if they feel you did not eat enough and try to guilt you into taking more food. There is no justification required for how much or how little you choose to eat. You know what will satisfy you and you are in charge. If you are afraid of hurting a family members feeling for not trying something special they made, simply ask for the recipe and say “thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to make it!”
Family members sometimes have no filter. Usually the things they say to you regarding your personal eating habits occur because they are unhappy with their own. Perhaps this holiday season will be a time when food pushers turn into mindful eating converts when they see how well it is working for you. And hey! If they need some guidance you know where to find me.
Your turn to take action: Recall a time a food pusher got involved in your decision about what and how much to eat. What are some ways you could have stayed true to your own mindful eating needs instead of being swayed by them?