Do you ever dread eating out with other people?
Because you know deep down it will derail your healthy eating progress?
I see this with my clients all the time.
They’ll be well on their way to healthy eating success.
Only to self-sabotage when they eat in social gatherings.
This doesn’t have to be the case.
In this episode, I’m sharing exactly why you feel compelled to sabotage when eating with other people.
And how you can begin taking full responsibility for your eating choices today.
Hello, my friend. Welcome back to the podcast. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas. I cannot believe we are almost finished with 2020. So crazy. And today I’m really excited to talk to you about today’s topic. But first, I wanted to let you all know that I will have openings for 1:1 consultations at the beginning of January. So this is how you apply for coaching with me.. And as of right now this is the only way to work with me.. So, if you’re looking to make healthier choices with food, end emotional eating, or change your eating habits in any way in the upcoming year, be sure to apply. I find for my clients, the beginning of the year is such an amazing time to start doing this work and to begin creating those new results with food. Because there’s just this air of new beginnings when January rolls around. So, you can go to katrentas.com/coaching to learn more about my program and how you can apply. But anyways, today, I want to talk about eating with other people. I thought this was an absolutely perfect time for this episode, since it’s the holidays and many of you might attend family gatherings or get togethers with friends. Maybe in a much smaller capacity since it’s 2020. But regardless, we need to talk about what can happen when you eat around other people. Whether that’s in a group setting for the holidays, maybe at a work party, or even when you’re just hanging out home eating with your family. There is something very specific that tends to happen when we eat around other people. And what happens is when other people are around, we tend to give up control over our eating choices. We tend to give up any control. And I know, for me in the past and for my clients, that trying to eat healthy when other people are around can feel like the most stressful, helpless thing ever. Like, seriously. I remember back in the day, I was just trying so hard to control what I ate. I really, really wanted change with my body. I wanted so badly to achieve that version of myself that just made healthy choices with food no matter what. So, I tried harnessing all the willpower in the world. And, I remember that I always felt like I could keep it together and eat healthy, until I went to social gatherings. Whether that was with friends or family. I felt like every time other people were involved, I lost all control with food. Like, when other people were around, I had no agency. And whether I ate healthy or unhealthy was totally outside of myself. And, unsurprisingly, these were the times when I would sabotage all of my healthy eating progress.
Now, there were a lot of problems with the way I ate in the past. Which I talk about on this podcast often. But here, I really just want to focus on what was going wrong in terms of eating around other people. Because I know so many of you are struggling with this. You’ll feel so out of control with food when it comes to social gatherings. Or maybe when you’re eating with your family. And like always, II want you to know that feeling this way is normal. Nothing has gone wrong. But you don’t need to feel out of control when it comes to eating with other people. So, first I want to talk about what’s really occurring when this happens for you.
It’s no secret that when other people are involved, we feel a natural tendency to give up control with food. We will completely stop focusing on ourselves and our eating habits. And we’ll start focusing on other people. And then after a while, it will seem like other people are in control of our eating habits. Or like our environment is in control of our eating habits. And the reality is that you are the only person in control of your eating habits.
So, I used to do this quite a bit. But I’ll notice with women I work with that they’ll talk about the “toxic” eating behaviors of others. And how other people’s eating choices are harmful or toxic to them. And they sabotage their progress with food. So, common examples are what your husband, partner, friends, or children choose to eat around you. I’ll have women say to me that they struggled to eat what was on their food plan, because their husband opted for pizza at dinner instead. Or they’ll struggle to eat what they intended to, because their children want sweets in the house. And they’ll say this to me in such a way where I can tell they feel totally helpless. And they feel like a victim of other people’s “toxic” eating habits. Which of course they feel helpless, right? They’re totally stepping away from the wheel of the car and having someone else drive for them. They are giving up that responsibility completely. And even just labeling someone’s eating behaviors as “toxic” isn’t useful. Because here’s the thing. And this just needs to be said. There is no such thing as toxic eating habits. Someone else’s eating habits cannot possibly be toxic to your own. Because no one outside of yourself can affect your eating choices. There is no way that someone can place their own food choices into your body. Absolutely no one’s eating habits are contagious. And when you think someone else’s eating habits are toxic, it’s because you’re having expectations for how other people should eat around you. And this may not be entirely obvious that you’re doing this. But it’s there. When you want your husband, partner, or friends to eat differently around you it’s because you’re placing expectations for how they should eat. When in reality, they have agency as adults and humans. And they get to decide what foods they want to eat. Based on what works for them and your body. And you get to decide the same things. But if you’re expecting other people in your life to change their eating habits based on how you want to eat, this is because you’re living with the belief that other people’s food actions affect your own. And you’re not taking full responsibility for your eating choices. And let’s be real right? It may feel easier when you’re trying to make healthier eating choices and you convince the husband to eat the same way you do. This may feel easier. To keep certain things out of the house and control his actions. But, I promise you, take it from me, this does nothing for you long-term. It does absolutely nothing. Because what you’re doing is you’re giving up responsibility for your eating choices. You have the belief that the way your husband eats, or the way your children eat, or what foods are in your environment ultimately determine how you will eat as a result. This manner of thinking is you giving up responsibility for your eating habits. You don’t want to take responsibility. And because you don’t want to take responsibility, you’re trying to control everything outside you, rather than owning the actions you decide to take with food. So, it may seem easier if you convince your family and friends to eat differently around you. And it may seem easier to keep certain foods away from you. But the results of doing this are always temporary. Because you will always eventually find yourself in social environments with other people who eat differently than you’re trying to eat. My goal for you is to not feel the need to change other people’s actions with food. Or to change your surrounding food environment. I want you to gain the ability to make empowered eating choices that serve you regardless of what’s going on outside of you. This is true power and fulfillment with food.
And what’s funny, is as I’m here telling you this, that you are the only person in control of your eating habits, a few of you are probably like, “Well, duh. I know I’m in control of my eating habits. I’m the one who determines what I eat”. But, I promise you, it’s really not so obvious to your brain if this is something you struggle with. Because your brain finds it really easy to place blame outside of you for the way you eat. Because your primitive brain likes to operate from emotional childhood. Where it blames everyone and everything for your own results. Whether that’s with food or anything else in your life. Because your primitive brain likes to save energy. It seeks comfort. And what’s really comfortable for your brain. Blaming others for your eating choices. Now, this is natural for your brain to want to trick you and convince you that you have no control at that dinner party. Or like you will have no agency over your eating choices during the holidays. And like you’re a victim of your husband’s unhealthy eating. But your brain acting from this place of helplessness and emotional childhood will not serve you. And it’s entirely not necessary for you to listen to that part of your brain. You need to learn to parent this part of your brain, like you would a toddler, that wants to blame other people outside of you for your eating choices. So, let’s talk about that.
First, we want to clarify that any energy you spend trying to control the food actions of others is wasted. It’s just wasted energy. So that is not what you want to be focusing on. Instead, you want to focus on taking full responsibility for your own food behavior. No matter the setting. And here’s how you do that. The next time you’re surrounded by other people eating certain foods, or you’re in a specific environment where you feel tempted to sabotage your progress, I want you to notice what you are feeling. I want you to uncover what negative emotion at that moment you are experiencing. So, this may happen for you in a number of ways. Maybe you go to your holiday get together and everyone’s eating foods that you feel like you’re addicted to. Or maybe you come home after a long day at work and you notice the husband is eating your favorite fast food. When all you’re trying to do is just eat what you meal prepped for the week, right? So, in these exact moments where you feel your control with food slipping away, I want you to notice exactly the emotion you’re feeling. Because here’s the big thing. This is what’s happening. You don’t feel compelled to eat food because of what other people are eating. Or because of the environment you’re in. Those are things outside of you. Why you feel compelled to overeat at the holiday party or eat the fast food your husband brings home, is because you’re trying to escape an emotion that you’re experiencing. This is all that’s happening here. And here’s what you do have control over. It’s not other people’s actions with food. It’s how you respond to your negative emotions. And the urges your brain has to escape them. This is what you do have control over. So, really, when you blame the holiday party or your husband or your friend for eating unhealthy foods around you. And you’re saying that’s what compels you to overeat. What you’re actually doing is saying “Hey. I’m unwilling to experience my negative emotions. And you’re just giving me a really good excuse to keep doing that”. Right? Let’s be so honest. And I was this way too. No shame. The reason we get mad at other people for eating unhealthy, is because we’re not taking responsibility for how we’re managing our emotions outside of food. This is just the truth. But this is actually great news. Because it means, these situations where we’re eating around other people don’t make us helpless. You are never helpless when it comes to the way you eat. You do have control. But control isn’t gained by focusing on what other people are doing. It comes by taking responsibility for your own eating choices and your own emotional management. So, let’s take it back for a second. You want to focus on uncovering the negative emotion you’re experiencing in the moment. When you see other people eating food. Or you’re in an environment where you feel like you have no control. Notice the emotion that comes up. And then you’re going to decide very intentionally how you’re going to respond to that emotion. Right now, if you feel helpless in these situations, it’s likely you’re responding to that emotion through food. And overeating in social settings. But, another option is available. Which is just acknowledging the negative emotion that comes up. Accepting it’s presence. And breathing deeply as you commit to feeling it. Because the truth is, negative emotions don’t have to be a problem. They only become a problem when you react to them through food. Negative emotions can just be there. Negative thoughts can just be there. Other people can just eat what they want. Those holiday parties can just have all of the foods that you think should be restricted in your presence. Because all of those things are neutral. You get to decide how you think about all of it. You can decide today that your negative emotions aren’t a problem and that they’re not personal to you. You can decide that feeling negative emotions sucks, but you’re going to have compassion for yourself and let yourself feel anyway. And you can decide to take full responsibility with your thoughts, feelings, and actions with food. This is everything.
When you really get to this place, where you’re willing to feel all of it and you’re taking complete responsibility, everything becomes so much easier. There’s no chatter or overwhelm with food when it comes to other people. Because you gain the belief that you are always in control. It’s honestly one of the best feelings in the world. Especially when you’ve been struggling with food. To be in a room with all of the foods that once tempted you. To be surrounded by people eating things that you’ve overrated in the past. And to know, “Hey, I’ve got this. Because everything I eat is my choice”. This is what makes this work so worth it. I cannot even tell you.
So, moving on with this knowledge, I want you to know that taking responsibility with food in social settings is a practice. It is a skill that you will need to develop. And a way to start building this skill now, as you enter the holidays especially, is to say to yourself every time there’s food, “Everything I eat is my choice”. And then before you eat anything you say to yourself, “I am choosing to eat this”. This will do so much for you. And I want you to also keep in mind that there are no good or bad foods. Especially during the holidays. Good or bad foods do not exist. There’s just the foods you decide to eat and the foods you don’t. And you get to decide how much food you eat that’s functional. And that provides nutritional benefits. And you get to decide how much food you eat that’s just for play. And feels enjoyable to you. It’s always your choice. The only time any food becomes negative is when you give up responsibility for eating that food. So, just know. You’ve got this. Don’t strive for perfection because it doesn’t exist. Always strive for intentional enjoyment of food. This will serve you so well.
Alright my friends. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. And I’ll talk to you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified life and health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.