Setting Boundaries with Family During the Holidays 

Setting Boundaries with Family During the Holidays 

Alex Brecher

How are your holidays looking? You are on the right track if you are thinking about which foods to eat because that will help you stay on your weight loss plan, such as a low-carb, keto, or high-protein bariatric surgery diet. The BariatricPal Store can help with getting delicious foods to enjoy during these times.

But in many families, there is another concern besides what you are going to eat. Some family members may make comments on your eating habits, weight, or appearance. And these comments are not always useful. They can be downright harmful. These are some examples.

  • “You are looking awfully skinny. Are you healthy?”
  • “That bariatric surgery must not have worked so well for you. What are you going to try next?”
  • “You’re not eating much. Are you feeling okay?”
  • “Wow, you are still eating so much. Is that why you have not lost much weight?”

Setting boundaries with family during the holidays can help protect you from hurtful comments. These are some tips on how to keep the holidays positive.

Change the Subject.

If the conversation goes somewhere that you are prepared to go, change the subject. You can do so explicitly, such as by saying, “I think that’s enough talk about my diet. I’d really like to hear how your new home decorating project has been going!” Or you can be more abrupt, such as saying, “Let’s talk about how your job is going!”

Blame an Authority Figure.

If you do not feel like defending yourself, you can always blame your surgeon or doctor. “My surgeon says I cannot eat foods like this.” “My doctor says I am right on track with my weight loss.” “My nutritionist gave me a meal plan that says to eat certain amounts of certain foods.” That way, you can tell your family what the instructions are without actually feeling like you are defending yourself. It is harder for them to argue with a medical professional who is not present than with you.

Make a Direct Request.

You might say, “My body is not up for discussion,” or, “I would prefer not to discuss diets today.” You might even explain that, “It is hurtful when you make comments on my body or diet, and I would prefer to have a pleasant day today. Can we agree on that for the day?”

Say “No.”

If a family member refuses to live by your rules, feel free to avoid them. You have absolutely no obligation to spend time with someone who insists on saying things that have the potential to hurt you. Gently explain why you are refusing their invitation or are not inviting them, and always give them at least one second chance. But after that, if you know they will hurt you if you are with them, do not be with them.

Seeing family should be a highlight of the holidays, but you may want to think ahead to some trouble spots. It may be wise to set boundaries around talk of weight and body. That way, you can stay focused on your own health without needing to worry about what others think. The occasion can be more pleasant for everyone!