How to manage awkward food conversations at Christmas

manage awkward food conversations at christmas

How to manage awkward food conversations at Christmas

Let’s look at how to manage awkward food conversations this time of year.

You can watch the video I made of this below or keep scrolling to read the full blog post.

This is for you if you struggle with people who push food on you. Especially this time of year when you’re visiting family. Sometimes it’s really hard to stand up to people you’re close to. Or when you’re in big family groups or at the work Christmas do.

It’s their issue, not yours!

If you find eating situations awkward, because people around you seem to be uncomfortable with you making changes. Remember human beings are creatures of habit; we don’t like change. If people are uncomfortable with you changing, it’s only natural. They often don’t realise what they’re doing or saying, or recognise that they’re uncomfortable with you changing. If people are uncomfortable with you making changes, it’s their issue not yours.

What will help you in these situations is asserting your boundaries. If you can stand up for your own boundaries and be assertive then people will get used to it. It takes time and perseverance, but they will adjust to your change eventually.

Being assertive is finding that balance between being passive and being aggressive.

Being passive is when you let people do what they want, act how they want and speak to you how they want without any consideration for your feelings. On the other side, being aggressive is when you’re doing what you want, saying what you want and acting how you want without considering other people’s needs and feelings. Whereas being assertive is getting that balance between being passive and being aggressive. You’re basically aiming for a ‘win-win’ situation, where your needs are being met, other people’s needs are being met and everybody’s feelings are being considered. It can be tricky, but it’s about reaching a compromise where everybody’s happy.

How to be assertive to manage those awkward food conversations

Awkward food conversations may pop up a lot for you this time of year. Whether it’s with family at your main Christmas meal, or it’s at parties with work. You may find people try to persuade you to have food that you don’t want. Or maybe they’re making a big deal about you making changes and you’re rather not focus on it. Maybe you get people talking about how you should ‘try this diet’ or question whether you’re allowed to eat something.

Check out my tips to manage those awkward food conversations here:

1. Flip the conversation

Try making a side step and just avoid the conversation completely. Be prepared in advance for the kind of conversations you might have. Think about a topic that you could bring up to try and change the conversation. If you’re a fan of Denise Duffield-Thomas, she talks about this and calls it ‘bean-dipping’. The idea is that you have a phrase ready to change the conversation. For example you’re at a party and someone brings up a conversation you don’t want to talk about. You can answer them briefly, then say “have you tried the bean dip?”

Think about who’s likely to be there and what kind of things could you ask them. What kind of conversations do you want to have? What could you talk about with them to flip the conversation? Asking people questions is always a really good idea, because people like to talk about themselves. If they ask you a question and you’re not keen on answering, how could you side step it by bringing up a different topic?

2. Plan a brief reply in advance

Prepare your response to people who keep trying to push food on you. This is really useful if you have a recurring situation with the same person saying the same things. Maybe they keep saying things like “go on have another cake or mince pie”. Plan your response ready, have it in your head, practise it in the toilet or in the bathroom before you go to the party.

Make sure your reply short, clear and concise, so it’s easy to say. Practise it in your head so you’re ready with it and you won’t waffle, then just say it. For example when that person says “go on have another mince pie” rather than feeling the pressure and ending up eating something you don’t want to. All you need to say is “no thank you, I’ve had enough.” It sounds too simple, but it’s effective when you take the time to prepare and give it a go. What short, clear and concise response could you have ready for the food pushers in your life?

3. Use the ‘broken record technique’

So you have your short, clear concise reply ready in your head. You’ve practised it and when the time comes you just take a deep breath and say it. But you may need to keep saying it a few times if the other person is persistant! The ‘broken record technique’ is simply repeating the same phrase. Smile, stop talking and leave it at that. Don’t be tempted to babble or say more. It’s really hard to do this the first time, but it helps to have that clear concise response in your head ready.

Don’t be tempted to go off track or say something different because then that’s when they can come back with other arguments. Just keep saying that same phrase back to them and eventually they will get the message. They might not like it, but take a deep breath and smile and remember only you can assert your own boundaries. So say it again – I promise, although it’s hard when you first do it, it does get easier with practise.

Which one or more are you going to have a go at this festive season?

  • Flip the conversation to take back control of the conversation and avoid topics you’d rather not talk about.
  • Prepare your short, clear response to those food pusher who try to push the food on you.
  • Use the ‘broken record technique’ to repeat your response until they get the message.

Get in touch if you need more help with this. Building assertiveness to manage ‘food pushers’ is an important skill to help you break-free from yo-yo dieting. And let me know how you get on trying these tips.

Ditch dieting forever. You deserve better.

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My Weekly Round-up! AKA; what I’ve been up to recently…

  • Tea of the week has been Lady Grey again, it’s just a classic!
  • I’ve kept up the daily walks down by the brook even though it’s been sooo cold! It’s also been really frosty and pretty too – check out the photo below. I’ve just about managed to do at least a little of my exercise routine most days too. Not as much as I’d like, but better than nothing!
  • I had a bit of a panic when I realised we’re pretty busy next week and then Christmas is the weekend after that! So I’ve actually made a start on buying a few prezzies and I’m feeling better now, just a few more bits to go.
  • Are you playing Whamageddon? I was doing well, until I heard it on the radio while I was watching Genevieve at her gymnastics club – 14th Dec – not too bad! Remember a few months ago I discovered ‘bardcore’ music? Well there’s an instrumental version of ‘Last Christmas’ – ha! Don’t worry covers don’t count if you’re still in the game.
  • It was the school Nativity performance this week. We were able to go and watch it at the local church for the first time in a few years! Genevieve nailed her part as a dancing camel, we were so proud. There was also a brilliant narrator who kept messing up “Oh no not that bit!” She was hilarious as she gave zero shits, laughed, then carried on – we can learn so much from kids. What a legend!
  • Woohoo I finished my little reading challenge ’22 New Books in 2022′. The final book was a beautiful little story called ‘The Phone Box at the Edge of the World’ by Laura Imai Messina. It was about a real phone box that a guy installed in his garden by the sea in one of the worst hit areas by the 2011 Tsunami in Japan. People make pilgrimages there to speak into the (disconnected) phone and send messages ‘on the wind’ to their lost loved ones. The story was about a small collection of people bereaved in various ways who met and connected there. Well worth a read.
  • Bird Nerd Report: It’s been sooo cold yet again. I love the sparkly frost, but it means there aren’t many birds about. Although I’ve seen jays a few times and there was also a black cap in our garden, which was exciting as we’ve never seen any in here before.
winter frost on plants down by the brook
Frosty pom-poms and sparkles down by the brook this last week or two.

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