3 Tips to Navigate Nosey Family Members and the Food Police During the Holidays

For people like me with type 2 diabetes, holiday gatherings can bring a certain amount of stress. In addition to trying to figure out what you can and cannot eat (or rather should or shouldn’t eat), you have well-meaning friends and family who can’t help but tell you what to put in your body. It’s like they can’t help themselves. Some of them do it because they are truly concerned about your health. Others, well, we’ll let God deal with them.

Christmas dinner at fireplace and decorated Xmas tree. Dish with roasted turkey, salad and baked potato served for festive family meal. Wine bottle with Santa hat. Open fire in stone oven.

Whatever their justification for playing food police at your family gathering, it’s important for you to be prepared to rebuff the disapproving glances and be able to answer questions like, “Are you supposed to be eating that?”

Here are my favorite tips for dealing with family gatherings.

  1. Practice compassion – As I said, most people just have your best interest at heart so they don’t mean to come off as rude or insulting. They do anyway but let it roll off of you like water off a duck’s back. You don’t have time for this because you have to worry about your own health. 

So when a relative asks, “Are you supposed to be eating that?” you can choose one of many responses:

  • I have a plan with my care team and I know exactly what’s on my eating plan. Thank you for your concern.
  • Thank you for asking but I have a plan for the holidays.
  • I appreciate your concern but I have an eating plan for the holidays.

That’s it. You don’t have to explain anything. You don’t have to educate them if you don’t feel up to it. Just respond kindly and move on.

  1. Bring a dish or two of your own – I know I say this a lot but it can really go a long way to show people you are taking your health seriously and are making changes. By bringing a couple of healthy dishes you can also show your family that it’s possible to be healthy and have good food. This is especially true if you’re eating more plant-based food and animal protein. 

Check out the resources page for books and websites to get healthy recipes.

  1. Limit your time at the gathering – You don’t have to eat with your family. If you know it’s going to be triggering for you or there are too many food police officers lurking about, then show up after the meal and stay for a respectable amount of time. By limiting your time around people who just want to tell you what to do, you are less likely to be stressed and feel shame and guilt about your diabetes. Managing diabetes is hard enough on its own, you don’t have to suffer through ignorance and manipulative behaviors as well.

Those are my top three tips for dealing with family gatherings this time of year. I know it’s tough but you will be so much better for taking this time to take care of yourself rather than putting yourself in the line of fire. 

Have a great holiday season and take care of yourself!

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