How to find empowerment by saying “no”

As humans, we are capable of forming countless relationships.

Whether that relationship be friendship, familial or romantic, it is constantly up to us as individuals to make sure that we are being treated the way we desire to be. If seeing too much of your friend made you sick to your stomach, but you couldn’t control how often you saw them, how would you handle that situation? If you felt guilty not seeing your partner every single time you thought of them,  but seeing them induced just as much guilt, what would you do? In these unhealthy personal relationships, you might just leave your friend or your partner in search of more suitable companions.

Now, what if you were literally unable to live without these people, if not being with them for prolonged periods of time induced light-headedness, fatigue, and the shrinking of your vital organs?

Welcome to an unhealthy relationship with food.

Food is supposed to be the friend that fuels your fire, supports your actions, and makes you feel like you can achieve anything, yet it can sometimes feel like an abusive partner who you can never leave.

You feel guilty when you overeat, but when people offer you food you feel like you are insulting them by not accepting. It is hard to go out to dinner with friends when you have already eaten, only to find ourselves considering if it’s worth missing out on the social affair.

Much like getting out of a romantic partnership or friendship that makes you unhappy, learning to have a healthy relationship can inevitably hurt and confuse the people around you.

“I thought you loved macaroni and cheese, why won’t you have some?”

“You’re on a diet? But I made these brownies just for you.”

Food consumption can be a very personal, yet very social thing.

Many friends and families enjoy eating together, but this can make it difficult to break up with overeating.

It is important to keep in mind that your friends, family, and all of the people in your life should want you to be healthy. If the people in your life love when your partner is around, but your partner isn’t making you happy, and you don’t love their presence nearly as much, it’s time to make a change. Your friends and family are not the ones that have to deal with the consequences of an obligatory diet. They won’t feel the judgment of others, and they definitely won’t feel the extra bulge around their stomach. You will have to face that alone. So it worth diminishing your values just for that extra moment of social engagement? Your relationship with food should enhance your life, like every other relationship that you have.

So, when faced with a situation where you feel you’ll slip back into your old ways, remember that by refusing food when you have had enough, you are refusing the revival of an old unhealthy cycle.

Being honest about your relationship with food and finding social interactions that do not revolve around it can be empowering and it can even strengthen your other relationships. Instead of simply saying “no thanks” to a dinner invite, try saying things such as, “I already ate and am trying to regulate my meals, would you like to grab some coffee tomorrow afternoon instead?”.

Being honest with the people in your life, and with yourself about your food consumption, can truly enhance every relationship you have. Most importantly, when all of your relationships are healthy and contribute to your well-being, a better relationship with yourself is sure to follow.  

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