“Should you be eating that?”
“Is that good for you?”
“Won’t that make your blood sugar worse?”
“Uh oh, someone’s off the wagon…”
“Oh come on, you can have just a little!”
Surprise! Another comment about what you choose to eat! What is it about human beings that makes us so interested in what other people choose to eat? And feel so free to share our opinions about those choices?
That constant barrage of unsolicited, often ill-informed opinions can really take a toll on us. Especially when we’re trying our darndest to make healthy food choices to manage our blood sugar.
And when you combine that with a lack of accurate information and understanding about prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, it can often lead to frustration and even anger after one too many remarks – however accurate or ill-informed or kindly they were meant. After all, it’s really nobody’s business but you’re own what you decide to eat.
So how do you handle the emotional impact of friends and family feeling free to weigh in on what you choose to eat?
Here are 3 things to keep in mind when someone drops a “Should you be eating that?” in your lap:
They’re probably genuinely concerned
Most of the time, people just want to help. But they might not know how or feel like they can. Offering a “helpful tip” can be seen as a way of supporting you, when in reality what it may be doing is just the opposite.
So before you see red at yet another unsolicited quip, pause and remember, they’re probably just trying to help, but don’t really know how.
Often, if we can remember that people are coming from a place of care and concern, it can help ease the sting of yet another round of “You should really eat Keto!”
And if you really want to go for it, instead of just thanking them for their concern, tell them how they can be of help to you. Give them something positive to focus on so that they can feel like they’re being useful and that you’re feeling supported.
For example, you could say, “I know you’re trying to be helpful in asking about what I’m eating, but that’s actually not where I need help. Would you be willing to help me with (fill in the blank: healthy snack ideas, going for a walk after lunch, et cetera)? Sometimes that’s all that people really want to do!
They may be genuinely afraid
When it comes to the people closest to us, constant comments about what you choose to eat can actually be an expression of fear. And that fear can stem from both ignorance and experience in some cases.
There are some serious complications that can arise from having high blood sugars over time with prediabetes and any type of diabetes. Luckily, most of these are preventable, but not everyone knows that. And if they’ve seen others they care for struggle with those complications that could be fueling their fears for you which in turn might be making them hyper-vigilant around you.
So if you find yourself under surveillance by the Plate Police, how do you shake them? First of all, try acknowledging their concerns and thanking them. Then gently explain that what you’re eating is allowed or that you’ve accounted for a special treat – if that’s the case. That may spark a good discussion about the most misunderstood aspect of managing diabetes which is that there’s no one size fits all right way of eating!
They may have a point
This might not be what you want to hear, but before you get your hackles up, just take a moment to consider if they do actually have a point? Should you be eating that? It might be a valid question if this is your third Klondike ice cream bar in one night (ahem, old Theresa)!
If the comment is hitting home, what’s going on?
Are you stress eating? Are you tired? What’s behind the food choices you’re making and what do you need to do to put yourself into a healthier mode?
Or maybe you’re just having a moment and are eating something that’s obviously not so healthy. Why is it that people with prediabetes and diabetes are expected to be perfect with food choices when most others aren’t?
Managing your prediabetes or type 2 diabetes is literally an all-day job. It can be overwhelming sometimes and it’s not uncommon to experience burnout. When others choose to comment on what we’re eating that can be an opportunity for us to check in with how we’re feeling and how well we’re meeting our own healthy eating goals.
If you’re truly overwhelmed or experiencing burnout, don’t be afraid to ask those closest to you for more support if that would be helpful. Talk to your doctor or primary care provider, or hop online and join one of the many support groups. The important thing is to recognize that you’re struggling and change direction.
And remember, just because you put it on your plate, doesn’t mean you have to eat it or eat it all – yeah, I am talking to all the members of the Clean Plate Club out there!
How to put this to work
So the next time you hear, “Are you allowed to eat that?” take a breath and remember to assume that the person has a positive intent in asking the question or making the comment.
Remind yourself that the person is probably just concerned and may even be afraid for you. And then ask yourself if their question is valid. Chances are if you’re able to take a moment to consider these 3 things first, you’re less likely to feel frustrated or angered by the comment and more able to enjoy your food in good company.
And that’s all you probably wanted to begin with!