What Are Food Shamers

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Last updated on July 20th, 2023 at 03:24 am

We are constantly receiving messages about what we should and shouldn’t eat.   Food shamers are the people with big ideas about good foods and bad foods they openly express to everyone else. 

 If you’re being bullied by food shamers it can cause you to feel: 

We might be left feeling like nothing sounds good to eat at all because a food shamer sent us a message that said we should feel shame if we’ve eaten certain foods. 

This is especially true if the person doing the food shaming was: 

  • A parent
  • A partner
  • An authority figure
  • A close friend

Let’s explore how to handle a food shamer, the difficult emotions that food shaming can bring up, and healthy ways to think about food. 

What Is Food Shaming

Food shaming is when a person expresses concern, disgust, fear, or anxiety as a response to the food that you’re eating. 

It’s critical that we remember that food shaming: 

  • Is not your fault 
  • Isn’t actually about the food that we’re eating at all 
  • Has nothing to do with our value as a person

Food shaming is typically a direct reflection of the insecurities and/or disordered eating habits of the food shamer. 

Food Shaming Examples 

Here are some common phrases food shamers may say to you: 

  • I would never eat that crap.
  • Do you know how many calories are in that?
  • Sugar is just like cocaine.
  • Fried foods are so bad for you.
  • I respect my body too much to put junk like that in it.
  • Are you going to exercise after you eat that?
  • I guess some of us just don’t care about the way we look. 
  • That’s not healthy.
  • Are you really going to feed that to your kid?
  • All that sugar is what causes your kids adhd
  • That gluten is going to make you fat
  • You don’t need that big of a piece 
  • You should stop and ask yourself if you’re hungry
  • That looks so gross 
  • I only try to eat zero or low-calorie foods

These comments can not only create a barrier in relationships, but it can leave the receiver feeling inadequate, undisciplined, unworthy, and unlovable.  

Why You Shouldn’t Comment On What People Eat

Most of us have deeply engrained rules of diet culture. These diet expectations can lead food shamers to push their views on health, and/or obsession with thinness onto others.  

However, food shaming can cause internal conflict and anxiety for someone that can last a lifetime. 

Food shaming can lead to: 

Food shaming is never helpful.  It can lead to an obsession with food or a complete avoidance of it. It can decrease your mood and increase anxiety.

If someone has an eating disorder or disordered eating, food shaming can make it extremely difficult to get normal hunger cues back. Food shame is detrimental for someone in binge eating recovery working to normalize meal times and all food choices.

infographic with food shaming messages

How Can Food Shaming Effect A Child

Many parents might feel like it is their responsibility to point out good foods and bad foods when it comes to feeding their children.  

Food shaming as a parent can include: 

  • Forcing your child to try new foods
  • Not allowing any sweets or treats in the house
  • Rationing out certain types of foods
  • Only allowing certain foods on special occasions
  • Making comments about a child’s body weight (especially as it relates to food)
  • Putting locks on the refrigerator or pantry 
  • Praising a child for eating certain foods over others

These behaviors will likely cause your child to have a distrust of their body when it comes to food.  

Some approaches to try instead that will help your child develop a healthy relationship with food include: 

Food shaming can be a child’s earliest experience with bullying. It’s important we teach kids to respect their bodies and honor their hunger for all food types. 

its just a potato eating disorder recovery pdf

How Do You Deal With Food Pushers

Sometimes, those that push food onto us can be just as damaging as the people ridiculing us for what we eat.  

Food pushers can say things like: 

  • Eat your vegetables
  • No dessert until after dinner
  • I can’t believe you’re not even going to try that pie Barb made
  • Eat another serving
  • If you won’t take that cake home, it’s going to go to waste 

These signals make it difficult for us to follow our own intuitive eating cues. Food pushers are also food shamers in the sense that they make you feel guilty if you don’t meet their expectations.  If food shame does. not cause us to stop eating certain foods, it might cause us to mentally restrict the food which can be just as harmful.

Ironically, many of these people are pushing food while simultaneously making unsolicited comments about weight.  This makes the expectations of what to eat feel impossible and can lead to anxiety, guilt, and shame around food.