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Boundaries Around Food and Other People

Relationships with other people can be the most comfortable and most deeply rewarding of the experiences of our lives. They can also be the most difficult, time-consuming, desperate struggles of our lives. Especially around food, eating, and body weight.

Can you hear those people whispering? “Why do you think she eats like that?” “She could use a little more willpower” Why does she need all that special food? ““O just have a slice of cake one piece won’t hurt “

Now there are different kinds of boundaries in our lives. And the way we handle people and their responses to our food, eating and body weight should be different based on our relationships with these people.

Many years ago, Anne Katherine divided boundaries into four areas: Acquaintance, Neighbor, Comrade, Intimate, and wrote about how we need to change our responses and our behavior around different types of people and different situations. The degree and depth of your relationship, she said, defines its context. And what you share with someone close to you ought to be very much dependent on how close they are to you.  There are different levels of relationships. Try to keep the relationship where it belongs in your feelings about the person, without allowing yourself to be criticized or walked over.

What you tell someone who has known and loved you for a long time is different from what you tell someone you barely know. And consider the context of the relationship.

This means you do not regale your boss with a story of the argument you had with your mother-in-law. It won’t help your career. And your dentist is really not likely to be able to help with your tax problems. Choose to discuss what is in the normal scope of your relationships. So, asking the dentist about the effects of your purging on your teeth may get you much needed help.

In recovery, other people’s reactions to your food choices can become an issue. Change is threatening to everyone sometimes, and others may be curious, annoyed, or upset by the food changes you are making.

A few suggestions for when you are entering a difficult situation:

Plan ahead and make sure you have the right food available. Before you go.

Eat a snack in case the meal is delayed. Before you go.

When someone asks you an awkward question, just ask them a question. Or ask, “Why do you ask?”

Say the truth; but you do not need to say the whole truth.

Understand that others may feel threatened by your food changes. Especially if they know they should be doing the same!

Make a joke:  “I’m following this weird allergy dietitian I found on the internet; it is strange but it is helping my itchy skin (or headaches or anger level) a lot.”

And one thing that was not included earlier: Among your friends and contacts, create a relationship with a few people you can be really honest with and say the whole truth to. Now you can manage these situations better, by having time to plan ahead and make good choices.

Blessings to you,


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