This is Part II in our Diet Mentality series. If you’re new to our community you can just start here or you can hop back two weeks to the discussion of The Diet Mentality and statistics and then look at last week’s key Diet Mentality point to make sure you’re up to speed. Either approach will be helpful. Just do what you can.
Another key indicator that you’ve got some Diet Mentality going on is if you feel obligated to eat what is placed in front of you – whether or not you like it and whether or not it is too much.
This might not seem like it has anything at all to do with dieting. But it has everything to do with the co-dependent mindset and all or nothing thinking that under pin The Diet Mentality.
You see, if you are so concerned with what other people think or what they would feel that you would compromise your body’s needs and not be authentic about what you like or what you need it is highly likely that you do this in other areas of your life too.
This is very dangerous as this way of being in the world creates great anxiety and insecurity because you really don’t trust yourself to take care of yourself and put your own needs first. This is, ironically, often why we start dieting, binging, purging or engaging in full blown eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder in the first place.
This implies a very childlike, all or nothing thinking perspective where we believe that only one person’s needs can get met and yours are less important so you have to suck it up and make the other person happy. Otherwise, the old story goes, you will be rejected or seen as rude. And if anyone judges you as anything other than ‘nice’ you’re a bad person. It may seem silly when you see it written like that but if you use food to cope and you take a moment to monitor your thoughts you’ll hear something very much like that. And you’ll hear it a lot. No wonder you’re so unsettled and need to numb out with food so often.
In truth, any person who is able to be a healthy relationship for you (friend, romantic partner or family member) would not want you to eat something you didn’t like and would not want you to overeat.
If you like the food but are full, you can simply say, “That was delicious, I’ve had my fill thanks.” Or “I am too full to eat more but it’s delicious, may I take some home?” That is not rude. That is great self-care. It is also a great way to let the other person know that you will set boundaries, that you will not be overrun by guilt or pressure or food, which generates greater respect and trust from the other person to you.
The only case where this is not true is when the other person is not capable of a 50/50, healthy relationship. The kind where you are not responsible for them but you care for them. There is a big difference.
If you don’t like the food feel free to say so, respectfully. “I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you, I really don’t like oysters.” The natural consequence of eating at someone else’s home and not specifying what you like or don’t like is that you might be offered something you don’t like. No one is bad; no one is wrong or stupid; and no one needs to compromise themselves. You’ll just not eat. Or you’ll have a pb&j sandwich!
If you don’t want to experience that, speak up and let someone know if you have sensitivities or real no-no’s when it comes to certain foods. Take care of yourself, that’s your job, not anyone else’s and it’s not a selfish or rude or bitchy thing to do.
If you buy in to the Diet Mentality indicator above it is important for you to begin to let it be okay to say no, or at least “enough for now.” How can you expect to feel confident and secure in yourself and trust yourself around food if you cave and compromise yourself for others? You can’t.
If you’re out at a restaurant and concerned about eating everything or not sending food back you’ve got some work to do. You don’t even have a relationship with these people and you’re caretaking for their feelings and what they’d think of you if you sent food back? That’s a sure sign that you’ve been raised in a very co-dependent fashion where you were taught to feel responsible for everyone’s feelings – and I mean everyone!
It is perfectly appropriate if something is well done when you asked for medium rare to say so to the server. You may truly be okay with eating it anyway but you should still say something. If you won’t enjoy it then tell the server. You can say, “just take it off my bill and I’ll have something else.” Or, “Yes please, ask the chef to make me another one.”
You don’t need to be rude or bitchy or put him or the restaurant down in order to get what you need. You can just let him know that what you asked for is not what you got. If you ordered a blue coat and they tried to make you take home a red one would you accept that too? It’s the same thing. It’s healthy, normal, and perfectly appropriate to hold people accountable to their agreements with you. In this case you had an agreement to get a medium rare steak. It’s reasonable to expect one and to hold the restaurant accountable for that. You are equal to every other human on the planet; not better, worse, more or less important; equal.
You have a responsibility to be respectful and to have integrity with people in your life. You do not have a responsibility for their feelings or to make sure their needs get met. That’s their job, just like it is your job to do that for yourself.
See if you can start to be a little more honest and care for yourself a little bit more in these situations and you’ll start to feel a lot more confident.
Have a great week.