What to Say When People Annoyingly Undermine Your Healthy Choices
Ever asked for salad dressing on the side at a restaurant and been scoffed at by friends at the table? Teased by your family for willingly waking up early on vacation to fit in a run? Or maybe you’re the one who “ruins it for everyone” by saying no to another round of drinks?
Yeah. We’ve been there.
Sticking to healthy habits can be hard, so it definitely doesn’t help when your commitment is met with jabs from your own personal peanut gallery. And while we all have sassy comebacks up our sleeves, responding to negativity with negativity is not the smartest tactic. Not only will it get you and your naysayers nowhere, but it could end up causing more resentment, even damaging relationships. And it’ll definitely kill the vibe at brunch.
It’s important to remember that most of these critiques are a result of people who are misinformed but well intentioned—or feeling insecure or disappointed about their own health-related decisions. First, pause to consider whether they could have a point. All healthy lifestyles need balance. But assuming your choices are sound, you should stick to your guns with grace.
With the help of our trusty network of experts, we’re offering up some alternative, sensible, and much more productive ways to fend off that unwelcome flak in almost any situation.
1. The situation: Thanksgiving dinner. Although your family is well aware of your healthy-eating style, they remain hell-bent on pushing food on you: “Just eat it, it’s not going to kill you!” “You could afford to have some.” “But I made this just for you!” The final straw is when pushy Aunt Agnes simply plops a generous heap of her congealed sausage stuffing onto your plate without asking.
What you’re tempted to say: You made this just for me? Really? Clearly you don’t know me as well as I thought you did!
Do this instead: It’s tricky when you’re dealing with an older family member you don’t want to disrespect, but you don’t need to just give in either, says Sherry Pagoto, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “Aunt Agnes is of a different generation, where expressing love for people means cooking for them,” Pagoto says. “There’s no point in trying to change the way she thinks.”
The quickest way to end this interaction is to say ‘thank you” with a smile and eat what you originally planned to. If Aunt Agnes (or anyone) actually insists on seeing you finish the portion, make an excuse about feeling uncomfortably full and ask if you can take it home. You’re free to do with the food what you wish later. (Read: chuck it.) Auntie feels appreciated; you eat what you like—everyone’s happy.
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