February 18, 2016

A strong belief in a particular eating pattern can cause some people to become blunt and loud – even rude – in expressing their opinions. Viewers of Channel 7’s My Kitchen Rules can’t help but notice the way Jessica, in particular, is drawing ire over the way she talks about her preference for healthy eating. While we should applaud her for ‘sticking to her guns’, expressing her opinions more gently may result in her views being better accepted.

It needs to be acknowledged that Jessica is part of a TV show; a show that records many hours of footage and then cuts that footage for maximum viewer appeal. What we see may not, in fact, be the reality of what has happened. Jessica appears to be judgmental of other contestants (and judge Manu) and their ‘unhealthy’ choices. Naturally, this has not made her any friends. In My Kitchen Rules, Jessica is not really in a position to refuse food graciously. She went into the show knowing what to expect and, just as importantly, the show accepted her knowing what to expect. They knew her brashness would make good TV.

So how could we learn from Jessica’s ‘mistakes’ and express our own views more gently?

For a start, it’s essential to accept that everyone has different ideas about health and healthy eating. A Paleo eater thinks their food choices are healthy while a vegetarian thinks theirs are healthy. Surely there’s room for health in a variety of eating styles.

Secondly, people have different goals. If your goal is to lose weight you might follow one eating pattern while your athlete friend is eating in preparation for a competition. Both may be healthy.

Finally, food is just food. It does not have a morality. Following a healthy eating pattern does not make one person ‘better’ than another. Sure, it might make them feel better, but this is vastly different than being morally better.

Remember that you don’t owe anyone any explanations about your food choices. Simply saying “No, thanks” should suffice.

For many people, though, this simple statement doesn’t feel like it’s enough. There are loads of tricks and strategies that you can use to help you stick to your food preferences:

  1. “I’m testing for food intolerances and that food is not part of my plan at this stage. I’m really sorry.”
  2. “It’s really important to me that I lose this extra weight and my program doesn’t allow for that food at this stage.”
  3. “As much as I love it, that food upsets my tummy (or gives me headaches, makes my skin itch, affects my mood) and I find that I suffer if I eat it.”
  4. “I’m sorry, that food is something I really don’t like. Would you mind terribly if I say no?”
  5. “I’m just too full to eat another bite. Thanks for such a lovely meal.”
  6. “I prefer to limit my intake of that food as it makes me feel pretty awful.”
  7. “If I eat that food, it sets me up to eat far too much of it. I find it’s easier to not eat it at all, rather than relying on my will power to stop.”
  8. “That food reminds me of a time when I had a bad reaction, so it’s just not worth eating it now.”
  9. “I had a really big lunch, so could I have just a tiny serve. If I’m still hungry I can fill up on vegies.”
  10. “I’m following a plan to break some eating habits that were doing me no favours, so I’ll need to pass on that food.”

Do you have any other tried and true strategies for sticking to your food goals? If so, share them in the comments below.