Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Stress, Wellness

Beware the “Nutri-Bully”

boxing gloves with apple

Imagine the following: You’re eating a salad. But, this isn’t just any salad. This is your first salad on the first day of your new nutrition plan after years of yo-yo dieting, fast food drive-thrus and late-night snacking. You feel a sense of accomplishment in choosing this salad over the drive-thru or vending machine. That is until a well-meaning friend comments on the high fructose corn syrup in your salad dressing and the carbohydrates in your croutons. You feel … deflated. Maybe you simply brush this comment off, or maybe this is the comment that makes you want to throw in the towel on healthy eating again. Either way, you have just been nutri-bullied.

All too often we receive, or perhaps even dish out, unsolicited nutrition advice. I have been guilty of the “dishing out” portion firsthand, but it’s something that I’m paying much more attention to in 2018. It can be tough to keep comments to ourselves, particularly if we’re passionate about nutrition and we genuinely care about the person to whom we’re giving advice. Just remember that there is a fine line between comments that are helpful and those that are off-putting. Try to skip the “shoulds.” When we tell other people what they “should” do, we presume to know what’s best for them, when in fact, we might know very little about them and their personal struggles.

At TOPS, we are encouraged to “Walk the Talk.” What better way to do so than by setting an example? By modeling healthy habits, we may potentially influence those around us to start some healthy habits of their own. For example, if you have a go-to restaurant buddy, and you know she is having a hard time counting carbs, don’t suggest a bagel shop for your morning coffee date. Or if you have a friend who is always saying she needs to get in more steps, offer to go on a walk with her. That way, you are encouraging her to keep up with her step count, and you’re getting some exercise too!

Sometimes, food itself may seem like a bully. For me, the ever-changing dessert display case at my favorite grocery store is already a big enough bully; I don’t need a nutri-bully making me feel bad when I do decide to split a piece of cheesecake.

Food choices are personal. You may have prevented your friend from eating that highly caloric treat, but at what cost? Being passive aggressive on nutrition or being condescending toward a salad dressing choice is not the way to set an example. So the next time you find yourself ready to critique someone else’s lunch—just don’t.

6 thoughts on “Beware the “Nutri-Bully”

  1. I have just reached my KOPS status by losing 52 pounds. My husband has been a wonderful support. Except, that he complains about his weight ALL the time. And then he eats a HUGE bowl of ice cream, or has 3 servings at dinner when I had planned for leftovers, or pours 1/3 cup cream in his coffee, yes, whipping cream. I have caught myself yelping at him and have had to consciously bite my tongue. Just as I had to make my own choices, he has to make his. Yes, he might stand to lose 15-20 pounds, but I love him the way he is. And he loved me the way I was. But, if you haven’t made the choice to change your food style, don’t complain about your weight. Thanks for letting me vent.

  2. I completely agree! We should support our friends and empower one another to improve our health, not criticize or denigrate another person’s small steps. Excellent post.

  3. I live with one. This one phrase I hear quite often, “You’re eating again? You just ate.” (which could have been 4-5 hours before) or, “Are you supposed to be eating that on your diet?” OR pushing sweets in my face trying to get me to take a bite. It is a battle that I am winning. Thanks for the support from my local chapter.

  4. Hi,
    Please be aware that you address members as she, her etc.
    I have a degree in applied psychology and counseled over 20 years ago. I know it’s a hard habit to break and even in my local tops group I’m continually referred to as she, girls,gals excetera.
    Thank you,

  5. One of my group’s leaders was actually monitoring what people were eating during our recent Xmas party and making comments. Total turn off. Doubt I will attend any further pot luck parties.

  6. A great article and a great reminder. Sometimes as a KOPS, I get so excited about how I lost. As TOPS says, “take off pounds sensibly”…making and eating healthy choices, portion control and exercise. I share sometimes when it may not really be appreciated. I too have decided to be more careful in the way I share. Encourage, but not offer any unsolicited advice. Share what works for me, but remind them we are all different and our bodies are different.

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