There are a ton of situations in our worlds that we can't control. If you're anything like me (read: a pretty particular human when it comes to things going as planned), this can be uber frustrating. When it comes to food, especially when we've set intentions to treat our bodies in particular ways, situations beyond our control can be extra problematic.
Well and Good NYC recently published an article on "diet dilemmas": situations that detail our goals. I thought it was an interesting piece and in light of this month of big intentions, new commitments, and holiday detoxing, I wanted to weigh in on their thoughts, especially the second point. “My boss is making me fat.”
Swap in “my family”, “my partner”, “my friends”, or whomever you’d like to credit for your eating derailments. Let’s break this down and see where some we can find some opportunities to feel empowered with food.
I hear time and again that work commitments and social plans interrupt our great eating plans. Client dinners, buffet style parties, and team building outings are often the toughest to navigate, followed by family gatherings, as there is a pile of external expectation that we participate in the food. (How could to possibly bond with your team, otherwise?) Many of my clients have expressed feelings of being judged if they don't partake - which ends in them having the pizza/beer/steak etc they would have otherwise avoided. They've identified that eating these things doesn't make them feel awesome, and yet in these social situations, eating them seems like the only option. "They might question my work ethic". "It'll make it seem like I don't fit in at work and they'll question their decision to hire me." "I might be fired." (Again, swap in “My mother won’t think I love her.” “Grandma will be offended.” “My husband won’t eat the healthy stuff if I cook it, and I want to be providing for him.” Whatever speaks to you.)
Whoa. This is some intense stuff. Is it true?
When we get right down to it, no, it’s probably not. (And does it sound like an excuse? It might be. Here’s where we get to the action… the part where you get to feel empowered and in the driver’s seat when it comes to your eating, not victim to food circumstance.)
I would hazard that no one was hired because of an uncanny ability to eat four pieces of pizza in ten minutes. Nor has a client ever questioned the capacity of a consultant because they didn't have a steak. (Unless I'm missing something, ones ability to provide great advertising consulting or quality goods is not dependent on steak consumption.) Rather, I'd guess that when people choose to associate with us - or love us - it's more about our personality, what we contribute, our energy, the quality of the work we do, etc.
Aren't these all things supported by treating our body well and prioritizing feeling awesome? I've definitely had the experience of trying to work while under-fueled (or fueled with garbage), and the results aren't nearly as good when I'm taking care of myself. The same is true for mood: if you eat foods that bring you down, how can you maintain those positive work/family interactions? It's like shooting yourself in the foot twice: eating something that doesn't feel great AND damaging relationships. Rough.
In these situations where we fear ostracizing for what we eat (or don't eat), we have a couple of choices:
1. Politely decline. "I'm not hungry" is a perfectly acceptable thing to say.
2. "I've discovered that eating x doesn't make me feel awesome." Make it about how you feel, not some grand judgment of how others are eating.
3. Swap in something else. Take a survey of what's available and see what will be the best option for you. You're not missing out on the junk, you're treating yourself to something awesome.
4. The writer’s suggestion to toss out a little white lie is also valuable (one white lie is better than an entire white food meal). Plead allergies, digestive stuff, or intolerances if you feel it'll help.
Also, get clear on what you’re fearing here and whether it’s justified. Is the fear of being judged moving you forward, or could you gain more from feeling confident and assured that your choices support you?
When we make awesome healthful choices, it’s not about offending the people around us by declining and putting ourselves on the “outside”; it’s about making choices that are in line with our big-picture intentions, that are going to leave us feeling strong and well, and even more confident!
The next time pizza shows up in the office - and you know it’s not going to support you - turn it down. You can bring your own food or eat beforehand, and always know that you can eat afterwards… we won’t starve if we miss one pizza party. Yeah?
In the end, you're taking an empowered stance for you. For feeling awesome. For being energized and without food guilt. For your intentions. Allow that to guide you - not the fear that others are imposing their judgment on you.
What kinds of situations like this arise in your world?