Let’s set the scene. You are eating a sandwich in the kitchen. Your spouse strolls in and says, “Are you supposed to eat that?” “I’m just looking out for you because you said you didn’t want to eat things like that.” You can react in three ways. You either shrink under their microscope and take the shaming to heart which could lead to resentment. Or you can give him an angry look that burns with the intensity of a thousand suns and shut down communication. Finally, you can confront unhelpful language from friends and family so they understand where you’re coming from, how their criticism affects you and how they can communicate in a way that meets both of your needs. 

In this blog, we advocate for anyone who has been on the receiving end of “But I’m just trying to be helpful” remarks to utilize a twist on the compliment sandwich we like to call the hamburger and bun conversation. This method has helped many of our patients whose friends and family are either unsupportive or don’t know the best way to cheer on their loved one. 

Start with The Bun 

Similar to the criticism sandwich, you need to start out with a positive message to encourage receptivity. Try, “I appreciate he concern you have for my health.” Keep it short and to the point. “Your concern for my well-being means a lot to me.” You’ve acknowledged the emotion of concern or love that prompted them to make a comment. Even if you have a suspicion that their comments were not made from a positive place, it’s important that you carefully craft your words so they will hear what is coming next.

Next is the Burger

You really need to get to the meaty part of the conversation – how they can support you. Remember AND is GRAND and you need to transition to your next sentence using that word. “I understand that you’re concerned about my health AND when you say, “Are you really sure you should eat that?” it isn’t helpful because it makes me feel [judged, ashamed, hurt]. You’ve repeated what they said not only to show that you are listening but so they can also hear those words out loud from the person who was subjected to them. By telling them it’s not helpful, you’re letting them know that their words have an effect on you and that shaming someone is never effective.

Finally, Another Bun 

Many people end their reply after the Burger but they’re forgetting to lay the foundation or what will keep the entire meal together: What you would like going forward. 

 “I understand that you’re concerned about my health AND when you say, “Are you really sure you should eat that?” it isn’t helpful because I know what works for my body. What I would like is for you to not make those comments, recognize that I know what is right for my body, and not bring chips and dip into the kitchen as those are temptations for me.” 

You’ve addressed the behavior at hand and given them a small, actionable, and simple task. You may need to add on a few suggestions such as “If you keep them out of my sight where I won’t find them or maybe you could eat them at work, etc.” this may help the particularly unimaginative among us. 

What About Mindless, Hurtful Comments People Make?

The scene: A friend and you are clothes shopping. She, a size 8, tall and willowy, slowly emerges from the dressing room and asks, “Does this make me look fat?” her comment, just like the earlier, “Are you sure you want to eat that?” feels like a dig at you if you don’t share the same body type. Until you reply back with a hamburger meal like, “I really enjoy spending time with you and shopping, AND when you ask about your weight in that way, I feel very self-conscious about my own body.  What I would like is if you could ask for a more general opinion like, What do you think? Rather than talking about weight in a negative way.”  You have expressed to your friend that you enjoy the experience of shopping, and that her words have an impact on you she may not have intended. You have offered her an alternative way to be together that will make your friendship stronger.

Healthful Life MD Teaches Behavioral Tools to Build the Life You Want

Our 12 and 15 week programs include sessions with a psychologist who is certified in eating disorders and whose body positive approach combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, sets you up for successfully navigating the shame or lack of support you may be experiencing. Establishing new behaviors and responses with the help of a professional is one way we are different from other weight loss programs. To begin a conversation, or learn about our Food, Feelings and Freeing Yourself Program, give us a call at 720 336-5681 or visit https://calendly.com/healthfullifemd/phone?month=2021-02 to schedule your complimentary consultation with Dr. Abby Bleistein.