How To Stay True To Yourself At Mealtime

Focusing on your own food peace journey can sometimes be a struggle. Comparison, judgments, and relationships can distract from your true intentions and goals for meeting your own nutritional needs. “How can I focus on my own food when my partner/coworker/roommate does or says _____?” This question comes up quite often and we have some common situations and strategies for staying true to yourself at mealtime.

Situation: fear of judgment

Have you ever been around people who make it their job to comment on your food or talk about what they are/aren’t eating? Comments like “Are you really going to eat that?” or “I’m being good tonight, so no dessert for me” can be (unfortunately) commonplace at the dinner table. Although the person may not mean any harm, it can be awkward and hard to ignore when you have your own goals. But are you choosing foods that you really want to eat, or are you making decisions out of fear of judgment? The truth is, many people make judgments because of their own insecurities around food. Don’t let their relationship with food harm yours. The best thing you can do is practice saying “yes” to your needs, and caring less about what they have to say about theirs.

Situation: multitasking

We all have a million commitments and tasks on our plate each day, so multitasking is sometimes a way of life. Research shows that multitasking actually leads to less productivity and less mindfulness, which can certainly interfere with the ability to tune into what your body and brain need, nutritionally and emotionally. Distractions disconnect mind and body and thus, you may feel unsatisfied after you eat since you weren’t even tasting the food and start digging through the pantry for something else. Or, distractions could lead you to eat past the point of fullness and feeling physically uncomfortable. To stay true to your meal intentions, start by setting one (“I’d like to sloowww down and take at least 20 minutes to eat my meal before getting back to studying”) and take a timeout to focus on just yourself.

Situation: cooking for others

Is mealtime stressful because your partner doesn’t have the same eating habits? Do you cook for others, but have different food preferences and goals? If you are focusing on eating a balanced and healthful dinner, but your partner is a selective eater or doesn’t like vegetables for instance, it can be tempting to cater to their wants and needs. But that only leaves you feeling frustrated and even resentful. Having an open conversation and sharing your concerns may be helpful, and sitting down and meal planning together to find commonalities and troubleshoot differences -just because someone doesn’t 100% like the food you do, doesn’t mean you can’t find common ground. Creating meals like grain bowls with mix-and-match ingredients like different dressings, veggies, and grains can make mealtime easier. Talk to your dietitian for more ideas!

Situation: your roomie influences your food choices

Have you ever felt like you have been doing well honoring your needs only to have your roommate say “Let’s order takeout for dinner” or brings home a box of cookies to leave on the counter to share? You weren’t planning on that happening, but now you have to make a decision if you are going to participate or eat foods that you hadn’t planned for, or perhaps you haven’t totally made peace with. Solution? Choose what is important to YOU!  Can your roommate order takeout without you? Totally, plus you already have something in fridge. Do you really like your roomie’s mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies? Have one with her and thank her for sharing. Or maybe you don’t have to decide tonight. Whatever you choose, its important to ask yourself “What do I really want?” and own your decision.

These are just some suggestions for navigating your food peace journey, but remember that it is just that – YOURS! For more tips, talk to your nourishED dietitian.