Oh, the holiday bells are ringing! The lights are going up, the stores are blaring Christmas songs and dressing their staff in hideous Christmas jumpers, determined to spread some “joy” (debatable) into a year that has been particularly miserable for most.
With the holiday season around the corner, the conversation will inevitably turn to what you’re having for Christmas dinner, and, for many, this actually tugs at a much deeper worry that we carry with us all throughout the year: eating in front of other people.
Being conscious about eating in front of other people is actually a fairly common issue that pops up in the lives of most people at some point in their lives. While it is a common issue, it’s important not to get too fixated on it.
When people are in treatment for binge eating or other eating disorders, one of the things that often comes up is that there was a key moment which had a large impact. Either a comment was made or perhaps there was a food mishap – there is usually a trigger point that has started the issue and a trigger that isn’t dealt with can grow into a much bigger problem.
It’s not just the food itself either that can be the issue. The holidays are a time for gatherings and special traditions, all of this means an interruption to the daily routine and that can really knock many people off-kilter, leading to even more intense feelings of stress and anxiety that could manifest in a sense of worry over food and eating.
Time To Talk
One of the best methods of combatting concerns about eating in front of others is to talk about the issue. Let your family and friends know that you’re not fond of it – you’ll probably hear that others feel the same way and are also feeling a bit self-conscious. Just that shared sense of tribe can make a big difference.
While you’re speaking with your family and friends about the worries you’re having, it might also be worth finding out who will be at the table and adjusting the seating plan accordingly.
Your crazy Uncle Mike might like to make a comment about “loving a girl who likes her food” but if that’s triggering for you, ask to be seated away from him. The same with your overly critical mother who is worried about you getting enough carrots – be seated away from the negative influences and preferably opposite and next to people who will be a more positive influence on your eating experience.
Get Out Of Jail Free Card
You’ve played Monopoly? Do you remember that free pass get out of jail free card?
Now is the time to test that theory to the max. Confide in a close family member or friend and agree on a signal that you can use for a little extra support. Perhaps dabbing a napkin or a small cough that will alert your ally to change the topic or at least rescue you.