Holiday Tip: Ditch the Appearance and Food Based Compliments and Commentary

Holidays gatherings usually involve seeing people you haven't seen for a while at meal based functions. This can be fun, but for people in recovery from eating disorders, it can be terrifying. It's normal in this culture to make comments on someone's appearance or weight or their food choices, but even well-meaning comments can be triggering. So, I made a list of a few options for what to say to someone that could be better. 

Non-appearance based compliments:

  • You light up the room

  • You're so smart

  • You're so kind

  • I love your laugh

  • You're so inspiring

  • You're such a good friend

  • You're so thoughtful

  • You are so brave

  • Your eyes are sparkling

  • You're so helpful 

  • It's so good to see you

  • I've missed you

  • I've been thinking about you

  • You are so special

Instead of commenting on someone's meal choice or amount they eat, ask other questions to connect to life outside of the meal: 

  • What have you been up to? 

  • Tell me what you think about (fill in the blank). 

  • What have you been grateful for this year? 

  • What's your favorite holiday tradition? 

  • What are you excited for these days? 

  • What are some books/music/movies/podcasts/TV shows/etc. you're loving right now?

While I intended this for people with eating disorders and their loved ones, let's not stop there. Parents should pay attention too. Even if your kid doesn't have an eating disorder, why focus on their weight or food!? Kids just want to please parents and may start to internalize messages about their body and appetite that can lead them down a painful path later on. Kids are lovable and interesting for so much more than their body or food. 

But why stop there!? Soapbox alert!

Why would we want to highlight ANYONE'S weight or food choices!?!? Especially during the holidays, but in most instances, I stand by editing out appearance and food based comments. Our culture does enough to mess with our heads and send conflicting and judgmental messages already. And you may never know who is struggling. Do better! Be more creative! I know you can do it!