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Stop food policing, now and forever

No one should have to deal with food shaming during the holidays. Here's how to stand up to food policing and keep your sanity.

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With the holidays on the way, people with diabetes often have to endure food policing and food shame from friends and family.

Food policing isn’t ok. And it causes a lot of stress and uncertainty at the table.

If you struggle with negative emotions around food, eating, and diabetes, reach out to the Diabulimia Helpline for support. A 24-hour hotline is available 365 days a year. (425) 985-3635

Food policing is a way of shaming people for their food choices

graphic with moving items for a thanksgiving feast

Food policing is a way of shaming people for their food choices. It’s a way of judging people for what they eat and making them feel bad about it.

Food policing can be subtle or overt, but it always has the same effect: making people feel negativity toward food.

Food policing often happens when someone sees someone else eating something they disapprove of. They might comment on how unhealthy it is or how they can’t believe someone would eat that.

Food policing can also happen when someone is trying to eat healthily, and someone else comments about not enjoying themselves.

Food policing is harmful because it can make people feel guilty or ashamed of their food choices while also assigning food a moral value to food.

It can also make people less likely to listen to advice about healthy eating because they’ll think you’re just judging them. If you’re concerned about someone’s food intake, the best thing you can do is to stop. Treat them like a human being, and allow them to make the best choices for themselves.

Shaming them will make them defensive and less likely to listen to you.

It’s especially harmful during the holidays when people are already feeling stressed and guilty

The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and celebrating what we are grateful for. However, the holidays can also be stressful and anxious for many people.

From buying the perfect gifts to attending holiday parties, there always seems to be something to worry about. And while a little bit of stress can be normal during the holidays, too much can harm your health.

When we’re constantly feeling stressed, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, which can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, this can put us at risk for developing heart disease or other health problems.

Those conditions can worsen when combined with diabetes.

That’s why it’s important to take some time for yourself during the holidays and focus on relaxation and self-care.

Whether taking a yoga class or going for a walk in nature, find something that helps you unwind and stick to it. Your body will thank you for it, but you don’t have to accept anyone policing your food.

There are better ways to deal with food guilt and shame

If you’ve ever finished a bag of potato chips or a pint of ice cream only to feel guilty and ashamed, you’re not alone.

Food guilt and shame are common experiences, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy or helpful. Beating yourself up over food can lead to unhealthy eating habits and emotional distress. If you’re struggling with food guilt or shame, here are a few tips that may help.

First, try to be more mindful of your eating. When you’re mindlessly munching on junk food, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re eating and end up eating more than you intended. Paying attention to what you’re eating can help you to be more mindful of your portion sizes and make better choices overall.

Next, try to focus on the pleasure of eating rather than the guilt. When you’re enjoying a delicious meal or snack, take a moment to savor the flavor and texture. Appreciating the food you eat can help you feel more positive about it, reducing the risk of developing restrictive or binge eating habits.

Finally, remember that no food is off-limits. Guilt and shame often come from feeling like we “shouldn’t” be eating certain foods. But the truth is all foods can be part of a healthy diet. Restricting yourself from specific foods can lead to cravings and overeating, so it’s important to permit yourself to enjoy all types of foods in moderation.

If you’re struggling with food guilt or shame, know you’re not alone. These tips may help you to develop a healthier relationship with food and improve your overall wellness.

Instead of policing each other’s food, let’s focus on enjoying our holiday meals together

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and, of course, food.

For many of us, the winter holidays are the only time of year when we get to see our extended family and catch up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives. Amid all the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to forget that not everyone celebrates the holidays in the same way – or even celebrates them at all.

This is why respecting each other’s food choices is important during this time of year.

Whether someone is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or has any other dietary restriction, it’s important to remember that we all have different needs when it comes to food. So instead of policing each other’s food choices, let’s focus on enjoying our holiday meals together.

You don’t always have to say what you’re thinking out loud – especially when it comes to the way someone chooses to enjoy a meal.

Let’s remember that everyone has different dietary needs and preferences, and that’s okay

It can be easy to forget that everyone has different dietary needs and preferences.

We all have our unique circumstances, whether it’s a medical condition, religious restrictions, or personal preference. And that’s okay! We should all feel confident and comfortable in our food choices without judgment from others.

The important thing is to be respectful of other people’s needs and preferences. There’s no need to comment on what someone can or can’t eat after they’ve fixed their plate.

Chances are, they’ll share with you if they want to. Creating a safe and supportive environment around food means we can help everyone feel included and respected.

Food policing is nothing but a waste of time and energy

If you’ve ever been food policed, you know how frustrating it can be. You’re minding your own business, enjoying a meal or snack, when someone else decides to step in and tell you that you’re eating too much/too little, or that you’re choosing the wrong foods.

It can feel like a personal attack, and it’s not conducive to a healthy relationship with food.

Fortunately, there are ways to put an end to food policing. First and foremost, we must be more mindful of our words and actions around others. If we wouldn’t want someone to police our food choices, we shouldn’t do it to others.

Secondly, we need to stand up for ourselves and others when we see food policing happening. Politely but firmly let the offender know that their comments are not welcome.

Finally, we can lead by example by modeling healthy relationships with food. When we take care of ourselves and make choices that work for us, we can show others that it’s possible to have a healthy relationship with food without being restrictive or judgmental.

Remember that everyone has different dietary needs and preferences, and that’s okay. Food policing is nothing but a waste of time and energy – let’s put an end to it!

About Mila

Hi! I'm Mila.

I’m earning my Master’s degree in Applied nutrition.

I’m a journalist and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach living with  LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, a slow-progressing form of autoimmune Type 1 diabetes) I love food, travel, and my kitchen, and teaching you about diabetes self-management.

I’m here to help you live your best life possible diabetes by showing you how to create simple, blood-sugar friendly and delicious meals and tips on diabetes self-care.

Be sure to download my FREE Diabetes Community App Glucose Guide, or reach out for FREE 1:1 diabetes health and habit coaching.

How can I help with your diabetes management?

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