How to Defend Against Diet Bullies

Whether it’s splitting a pizza over episodes of “The Bachelor,” going on late night fro-yo runs after a long day, or nursing a hangover together at your favorite brunch spot, food plays a huge part in our friendships. The operative word being huge, since new research suggests your friends are making you fat.

The Diet Shamer

06-totalbeauty-logo-food-bulliesCool girls don’t diet. Cool girls eat greasy cheeseburgers chased with fries covered in gravy, all washed down with a giant soda. Cool girls don’t care about Weight Watchers, lean protein or Nutribullets. Or so your diet-shaming friend will have you thinking when she rolls her eyes after you turn down her chili dog. This friend makes you feel bad for even thinking about switching out your Cheetos for celery, and makes it known that it’s totally uncool to be concerned with food choices.

The Diet Shamer: How to Defend

07-totalbeauty-logo-food-bulliesThe next time your friend smirks at your salad order, try your hardest not to punch her in her naturally skinny throat. Instead, nutritionist Paula Simpson, RNCP, and Alexis Conason, a licensed psychologist specializing in body image, suggest switching out the word “diet,” which most people associate negatively, for “mindful eating.” Which is all well and good … if Gwyneth Paltrow is your BFF. The Diet Shamer will never let you live that one down. Try this: Instead of meeting up with her for meals, make her your go-to friend for another activity, like manicures, movies or even hiking — you’ll be the one smirking when her sodas and Snickers can’t get her through a few miles on the trail.

The Unsolicited Dessert Pusher

02-totalbeauty-logo-food-bulliesThis diet bully is often disguised as a benevolent baker. She’s always sending out an office email with the subject, “Treats in the Kitchen.” In her spare time, she trolls Pinterest for new, impossibly difficult confectionary challenges, and she never misses a chance to unload 24 cupcakes on you for your birthday. Or Valentine’s Day. Or Friday.


The Unsolicited Dessert Pusher: How to Defend

This person’s heart is probably in the right place — food is often a way to communicate or find common ground, so it could be her way of forging a friendship, explains Conason. If it’s a coworker, leave the treats in the break room and ask her to go on an after-lunch walk instead (research shows a 15-minute walk can curb cravings, meaning you won’t make a beeline for the treats when you get back to the office). If it’s a friend, make sure she’s aware that you’re watching what you eat. Mentioning something about how much easier it is to resist sweets when they’re out of sight will keep her from loading you down with sweets. Plus, if she knows you’re eating healthier, she may try to do the same, which will make your goal that much easier. Researchers call it positive peer pressure — when friends mirror each other’s eating habits. Just make sure you’re the one setting the trend.

The Partier With a Penchant for Pub Grub

04-totalbeauty-logo-food-bulliesYou know the drill. Your 5 p.m. Friday happy hour turns in to a three-day bender when you’re hanging out with this party lady. A hefty amount of two-for-one margs, 3 a.m. Taco Bell runs and a couple of day-drinking episodes later, the details are hazy, but one thing is clear: Your diet is as completely wrecked as you were.

The Foodie Friend

08-totalbeauty-logo-food-bulliesYou haven’t lived until you’ve tried this new restaurant, she says, at least once a month. She waxes poetic on crookies, cronuts, wonuts and $30 gourmet ramen burgers, and she’ll be damned if you die before you try them all with her. Your foodie friend drags you to restaurant openings on the reg, and her foodie nature insists that experiencing the finer (read: fatter) things in life is way more important than watching what you eat.

The Foodie Friend:

09-totalbeauty-logo-food-bullies_01How to Defend Set boundaries with your foodie friend, suggests Conason. Make it clear what you’re willing to eat and what you’re not willing to eat. Simpson says preparing for your night out by snacking healthily on things like nuts and fruit beforehand can help you resist whatever of-the-minute concoction the foodie is pushing your way.

Alternatively, try bartering your activities with your friend. For every restaurant opening you attend with her, she has to go to a workout class or raw restaurant with you. When she’s huffing and puffing her way through cardio barre for the third time in a week, or choking down cold green pea soup, she’ll get the picture that not everyone has to love the same things.

The Over-Orderer

10-totalbeauty-logo-food-bullies10-totalbeauty-logo-food-bullies A close cousin to the foodie, the over-orderer thinks of eating out as the perfect time to indulge. Buttered biscuits, spinach-artichoke dip and oysters with three kinds of dipping sauces to start, red wine all around, and multiple courses before you polish things off with a few samples from the decadent dessert menu is just a standard night out with this buddy. Before you know it, your stomach is beyond full (and your wallet is pretty empty after splitting the check).

The Over-Orderer: How to Defend

11-totalbeauty-logo-food-bullies“A social environment increases the likelihood of eating less mindfully,” says Simpson. She suggests planning ahead for your big night out (i.e., restricting your diet in the days before), so that you feel comfortable enjoying it. In fact, according to Conason, indulging occasionally will help your diet stay on track. “A night out of eating shouldn’t trigger a panic attack. Instead of white-knuckling your way through a meal with others, tune in to your body and allow yourself to have what you want,” says Conason.

As for the 15 appetizers you could do without …

If you’re not in the mood to eat multiple courses, just say at the beginning that you brought cash and you’ll be ordering your own food,” says Conason. Try suggesting vegetarian restaurants, which are likely to have healthier options. Or invite everyone over for a potluck style supper club — they’re less likely to harp on your healthy choices if you’re not announcing them from the menu as you put in your order.