One of the very common questions I get is how to deal with negative comments and judgemental people in eating disorder recovery? “I feel everyone is judging me because of my weight gain…“, “I bet they wonder why I eat so much when before I was this athletic healthy fit girl…”, “They must think I am fat and have let myself go…”, “Someone asked me if I’m pregnant”, “She was so surprised of my weight gain and told me to ‘not go too far with this’…” UGHHH!!! These are just a view examples.
Dealing with triggering people and triggering comments in recovery is hard and can make many people relapse back to restriction. Today’s culture is soaked with diet messages and everybody seems to have this diet mindset so no wonder we get so frustrated when nobody seems to understand we are just trying to get out of this brainwash! To get truly healthy again, for our physical and mental wellbeing.
To help you deal with this I want to give you my 10 thoughts on this subject. What is a more helpful way to look at it. To keep going despite all the judgemental comments, triggering people and the diet messages all around us.
1. We all want to feel accepted
We all want to feel a sense of connection and belonging, being understood by others and to feel validated. It’s a basic human need and it’s healthy. But it can become very unhealthy when we rather choose to follow an unhealthy behavior just to get that validation and approval from others but, at the same time, putting our own true needs aside. With eating disorder recovery we must keep on recovering despite the fact that many people won’t understand us or even accept our change. We need to recover because of our own health and well-being, not for others. People who really love you will stay by your side no matter what.
2. Most people have no idea what recovery is like
Most people have no idea what eating disorders really are, how recovering from it looks like or what it takes. Even close family members or friends who maybe know that you are recovering still might be clueless what you are actually going through. Talking about it and letting them know will help but if they make triggering comments then just know that they likely have no idea what you are going through, or exactly what to say or not to say. Try to put yourself in their shoes to understand where they are coming from. They might mean well but just don’t know what is the best way to express it. So if someone says a triggering comment you can’t take it like it’s from a person who knows what is right for you. It’s very likely they actually have no idea about recovery and the reality of it. So you must stay true to what you know is best for you.
3. People have skewed beliefs about food and weight
It’s unfortunate that so many people in today’s world have the diet mindset. The idea that weight gain is always something bad and weight loss means a person is getting “healthy”. Also, they might have the “good and bad” food mindset and comment on your food not because they know whats right for you, but just because their belief system is soaked with diet messages. Many people are brainwashed by diets and believe its messages whether consciously or unconsciously. It comes from their own messed up belief and the diet mindset. Even normal people who have never dieted themselves can still have diet mindset -skewed ideas about food, eating, and weight. They want to push their belief system on to you but you don’t have to take it. Just because someone is commenting on something does not mean they are right and you should listen. Most of it is just someone’s opinion. So don’t confuse facts with opinion.
4. Many people are brainwashed by diets
Many people are dieting themselves. It can be your co-workers, family members, your friends or even your partner. People who are dieting will be triggered by YOU if they see you are stepping away from diets. And they can make negative or triggering comments because they need to validate what THEY are doing to make themselves feel better about their own beliefs. We all want to be right so if someone is dieting and makes negative comments about you it’s THEIR problem, not yours. You don’t need to approve what they are doing by accepting the negative comment as the truth. Know that it’s their own diet brainwash. And one thing for sure in life is this: there are very few facts.
5. Nobody is thinking about you as much as you do
People are generally the most focused on their own lives. In reality, nobody is going around and thinking about you all day or the way you look or eat. The news flash is that you are not that important or special to anybody, most people are rather worried about their own lives! And even if someone comments or thinks about your weight or eating for a few seconds of their day is it really worth it to spend your WHOLE life in an eating disorder? Just to make sure those ignorant people can’t comment on what you do? It’s like you are living for THEM, not for yourself.
6. By needing everybody’s approval you give your power away
If you keep needing validation from others and needing to hear everybody’s positive comments about you, then you will forever keep on waiting! If you live for others approval and always try to please everybody then you will give away your power. You literally make your happiness dependant on other people and it’s a very unhealthy place to be. If someone’s comment can either make you or break you in a blink of an eye and decide if you gonna feel great or not that day you give your happiness to someone else. It’s a trap, a trap of lifelong unhappiness. But the key is to let go of that validation and focus on whats best for YOU! Focus on the people who truly love you and work on accepting yourself just as you are. Stop trying to get approval from everybody because it’s never gonna happen.
7. Accept yourself as you are
Even if someone is an evil person who wants to bring you down with their negative comments, just to make you feel bad, then why you want to please them by accepting their comments like it’s the truth? If someone wants to intentionally hurt you then you only feed that fire by trying to endlessly explain yourself, seek their approval and needing their validation. It’s best to get to a point when you realize that you don’t need to be liked or even approved by everybody. I’m sure you don’t like everybody on this planet so everybody does not have to like you as well! And that’s ok! If someone just doesn’t like you or support you then it’s totally ok and fine! Let go the need for being liked and approved by everybody. It’s not realistic. Instead, accept YOURSELF as you are, with all your “flaws” and “mistakes” and rather focus on being true to you! People who truly love you will support you.
“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
8. Their negative comments about you are a reflection of themselves
If someone is making negative comments about your appearance or weight then it’s a reflection of their own messed up relationship towards their own body. They need to make negative comments about someone else just so they can feel better about themselves! Most judgemental people are also very judgemental of themselves. So instead of feeling hurt, feel compassion towards them because who knows what they have been through to become this bitter person who wastes their life thinking negatively about others. It’s a miserable life.
We all get old and nobody is immune to that. We might gain weight as we get older and experience increasing “imperfections” of our body: cellulite, wrinkles, age spots, injuries, health problems – welcome to the human body! If one can’t accept that then I feel sorry for them because they will forever live in self-hatred, feeling unworthy, not good enough, not accepting THEMSELVES. If their value system is based on weight and appearance then it’s very short-lasting. That’s a whole lot of misery for them! And if they waste their energy by focusing negativity on you, it’s THEIR WASTE of energy, they are poisoning their own body and brain with this toxic negativity. If anybody is making a negative comment about someone else then they might as well look in the mirror because this is the only person they are really hurting.
9. Have you ever thought that these are actually YOUR thoughts?
Sometimes we think that people spend all day judging us and secretly commenting on our weight and eating, but actually, have you ever thought that these are actually YOUR thoughts? You really don’t hear what they think about, so how can you know for sure? These are most likely your own fears about your own weight and eating. Just because you think this way DOES NOT mean everybody else must think about you the same way. And also, eating disorder will magnify your fears, eating disorder mind will notice any comment about weight or food and take it in the most negative way. It will take maybe otherwise well-meant comment and twist it into the biggest trigger in the world. Eating disorder likes to catastrophize every scenario, take it personally, become a victim so it can keep on feeding on that blame-game so you never take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions.
10. Put your true self out there and practice!
Many people in recovery are worried about being judged by others. Whether it’s about their weight or way of eating. We can talk about it endlessly and discuss how to change your mindset, but you never actually overcome it unless you start practicing it in your daily life and facing the uncomfortable situations – eating out with others, attending family gatherings, going to clothes shopping, going to the beach, meeting a friend you have not seen for a long time, changing your OWN MINDSET. Starting with yourself first, not waiting until other people will change and stop commenting or judging you. The world we have today is, unfortunately, full of diet messages and unhealthy beliefs about food, eating, and our body. But you don’t need to become a victim and focus on how it stops you from recovery but take the responsibility to your own hands and give yourself the approval, validation, and support you need in recovery first and foremost!
“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” – Dr. Seuss
Hope you found this video and information helpful!