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Establishing Healthy Boundaries this Christmas to Navigate Social Events & Divert Diet Culture Talk

We all know that Christmas is a time for being with friends and family, but it can also be a difficult time.

Boundaries are important to establish so that we don't have to hear about diets, weight loss or how someone's body has changed.

Boundaries create an atmosphere of respect and understanding which will allow you to enjoy your social events without feeling judged by what you eat or how you look.

These boundaries should not be set in stone; they should change depending on the event and people involved.

Boundaries should be thought about at least a week or two before the event so that you can prepare for them and put them in place if they are necessary.

Boundaries don't have to mean completely shutting down your friend, just making it clear what is OK with you and what isn't.

How to establish a boundary with a loved one or friend

If you are struggling to set boundaries with a loved one or friend, it might be helpful to start by explaining why you need the boundary.

For example, if you don't want to talk about dieting and weight loss at Christmas, explain that these topics make you feel uncomfortable and stressed.

This will help your loved one understand why you need the boundary and they might be more likely to respect it.

You could also try setting a strike limit for conversations which appear to be trending towards these topics or conversations which you find continue to revert back to them; for example, allowing for 3 strikes (with a strike referring to a gentle intervention on your part either discussing how you'd rather not discuss this topic or trying to divert the conversation in a different direction) before changing the subject more firmly or walking away from the conversation.

Boundaries can seem like a scary thing but they can really help us protect our mental health, especially during the Christmas season when we can be inundated with diet talk and body shaming.

Boundaries aren't about being rude or unapproachable, they are about establishing what is and isn't comfortable for us so that we can have a more enjoyable time.

What boundaries will you put in place this Christmas?

It can be hard to navigate conversations around diet culture and body shaming at Christmas, especially when they seem to crop up everywhere.

However, by setting some boundaries for ourselves – such as not discussing our own or others' bodies, diets or weight loss – we can make it easier to stay happy and healthy during the festive period.

You might want to consider boundaries related to your recovery journey that can help protect yourself from body shaming comments or conversations about diets and weight loss at this time of year:

  • Boundaries around the amount of food you eat

  • Boundaries which foods you eat

  • Boundaries around your body and how it may or may not have changed

  • Boundaries around your exercise and how you may be exercising presently

We don't need to participate in every conversation just because it's happening; choose to put your health and your recovery journey first so you can make the most of the festivities.

Concluding remarks

You're supposed to enjoy the festive season, not feel guilty or ashamed about the choices you make.

So be sure to establish some boundaries for yourself and stick to them – it'll help keep you happy and healthy this Christmas!

Balance is Northern Ireland's leading nutritionist and dietician coaching team.

We work with everyone from Olympians to office workers to help them achieve their nutrition and diet related goals.

Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you;

- Beat binge eating

- Lose weight and keep it off

- Take your sports performance to the next level and reach your full potential

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