Episode 54: Being A Role Model Through Your Relationship With Food

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Thanks for joining us for episode 54 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show!

Today we are answering the following question from a listener:

“My question is about being a role model for kids. I’m 21 and eat mostly Paleo. I used to struggle with body image issues and mildly restrictive eating in my teens, but I’ve overcome this and now I have a healthy relationship to food and my body. I have my fair share of treats, enjoy dining with others, and love my curvier female figure. I spend lots of time with my cousins, 10 and 12 year old girls. I’m wondering how to best be a balanced and good example when it comes to food and appearance. We have a lot of big family dinners. Most of them eat a lot of cakes and ice creams, etc. and sometimes I feel like the odd one since I choose different things, and I feel very responsible to be a good influence. What do you think about special diets and being a role model for kids?”

How we approach and talk about food has a large impact on how we and those around us view food. Specifically, the way children and teens think about and choose foods is largely impacted by the adults in their lives and their relationship to food.

In a culture that is fixated on weight as being the important factor in food choice, it’s almost ingrained in our psyche that a diet is a means to improve body image. This makes taking the spotlight off of appearance difficult when talking to others about our food choices based on a desire for health and just wanting to feel good.

How can we be positive role models to the younger generation concerning food choices and a healthy body image regardless of weight? Listen today as we discuss ways to talk about food and demonstrate positive choices to promote confidence in having a healthy relationship with food.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • How your actions influence and educate the younger generation on how they think about their body and food choices
  • Why it’s importatnt for you to understand the real reasons why you eat a certain way
  • How to effectively communicate the reasons why you make certain food choices
  • Why the way you talk about food in front of children should be the way you talk about food in general
  • How to have confidence in your decisions about food choices regardless of how people are going to react
  • How to respond to negative comments or questions regarding your food choices
  • The importance of focusing on the positive aspects of choosing healthy food versus the negative consequences of choosing not so healthy foods
  • The importance of offering young girls genuine compliments in building their self-confidence

Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi everyone. Welcome to episode 54 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Kelsey Marksteiner and with me as always is Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hey guys.

Kelsey: So how are you doing, Laura?

Laura: I’m good. I feel like the last couple weeks of my life have been a little crazy, but good crazy.

Kelsey: Good.

Laura: So just trying to keep everything balanced and focused on some big changes that I have coming with my business, and also still trying to balance that with socialization and relationships. I feel like that’s the story of my life is trying to run a successful business while not losing the important relationships in my life. So just cutting out time in my schedule to talk to people, and to spend time with my friends, and to not work too hard. It can be really tempting to overload my schedule.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: So being more clear about my boundaries with working with clients, and taking on projects, and doing things for other people. It’s been an effort in learning to say no, essentially.

Kelsey: It can be hard sometimes, for sure. It’s easy to get excited about every little opportunity that comes your way a lot of times. Once you get to a certain point, you do sort of have to start thinking about saying no, which can be really tough.

Laura: Right. I’m at the point where I’m saying no a lot, not just thinking about it. But something that Steph Gaudreau said one time that I really liked was she was only going to say yes to things that were one hundred percent yeses.

I think that’s a really good thing, at least as a business owner, but I think in general in life, maybe it doesn’t have to be one hundred percent yes. But if you’re running a business or if you’re making a tough decision about how to spend your time, if you have doubts about whether or not you really want to do something, I think generally you should listen to those because most of the time if you do something you don’t really want to do, you’re going to regret it. Especially in business, there’s so many opportunities that will come up that if you said yes to everything, you’d probably just burn out and not be able to actually do your job.

Kelsey: Right. Definitely.

Laura: So I feel like saying no is really essential to running business and also just having a life that is really aligned with your values and that you’re not giving up your particular ideas about what your life should look like just because you feel bad saying no.

Kelsey: Right. I think that, like you said, that’s a great lesson to lean just for life general. It’s something that can take some time to cultivate being comfortable with saying no to a lot of things because for a lot of people we’re kind of people pleasers by nature. We want people to like us and all of that good stuff.

It kind of can take a little bit of getting used to saying no to things. And you just have to learn how to do it gracefully and just make people know that you are saying no not because of them, or of what they’re offering, or anything like that, but just because you are aligning kind of with different things at the moment.

I think that’s a great lesson for people to think about if you’re just trying to feel more content with life, you should definitely think about saying no to the things that, like you said, are not one hundred percent yesses.

Laura: Yeah. Actually it’s something we talk about in our Paleo Rehab program. There’s a book called When The Body Says No and its basically about how people who don’t say no to people and just run themselves ragged doing things for other people all the time…and I’m not saying be selfish. I’m just saying having boundaries is important. The people that don’t set boundaries with other people, or their bosses, or their relationships, that kind of thing, they actually end up being at higher risk for things like autoimmune disease and other chronic illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome, or ALS, that kind of stuff.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: It’s just crazy because it’s like I think people really in this culture feel like saying no is rude, or not considerate, or just it’s not a good way to build healthy relationships. But I actually think saying no to things is basically crucial for building healthy relationships. Because if you just saying yes to everything, you’re really not prioritizing anybody, and you’re not prioritizing yourself, and you’re running yourself ragged, and then you have nothing to offer other people.

This is something that definitely comes up in our Paleo Rehab program, and I definitely struggled with it in the past. Like you said, I have been a people pleaser for sure. I think I still have that tendency. But the more I mature, and the more I learn about myself and what my values are, the less I am prone to doing that.

So it’s a work in progress. But I think the last couple months for our joint businesses, and I know our private businesses, has gotten a little crazy as far as the scheduling is concerned.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Which is good, but also that’s when this saying no situation has to really be prioritized. That’s been my last couple of weeks trying to set boundaries and make my values very clear so that way when I’m making decisions, I don’t have any guilt about anything because I know why I’ve made the decision.

Kelsey: Yeah. Well cool.

Laura: But anyway, but you just got back from some fun traveling, right?

Kelsey: Yeah. Well speaking of one hundred percent yesses, there were two things that I did. I went to a retreat that one of Chris’ prior patients, she kind of made this healing farm retreat business where she’s going to run a bunch of retreats and then hopefully someday have an actual retreat location versus renting out different retreat centers. It’s just really just a space to focus on healing, and relaxation, and eating good food, and getting sunshine and nature, and all that good stuff. So it was a really, really great retreat and I was really lucky to be asked to do it.

For me, she’s like telling me all about it and I’m like yes! Yes! One hundred percent yes! She asked me it must have been a year or maybe more ago at this point to do it, and it was one of those things that I just got really excited about when she asked me. That was definitely one hundred percent yes. I had a great time. I had a bunch of private clients that I did there. Then I gave two talks, both of which went really well. And I was actually a little bit nervous about them going into it, but I was really, really happy with how they went. It’s actually given me a little bit of a confidence boost to maybe do more of that in the future.

Laura: Awesome!

Kelsey: Yeah. That was really exciting, both on a personal and professional level. Then from there, my fiancé and I went straight to Tokyo, which was crazy amazing. I’m one of those people that I really like to travel and I have been a lot of places so far. Usually I’m like okay, I wouldn’t go back there until I’ve kind of done these few things on my list, these other places that I want to go to first. But Japan is one of those places that after being there for a week, I was like I could definitely come back here.

Laura: Yeah.

Kelsey: Yeah. There’s just so much to do. We are non-stop travelers. My step mom calls us the ninja tourists because we just go, go, go. It is definitely not a vacation, it’s a trip. We did a ton in seven days and literally felt like we had done nothing because there was so many other things we wanted to do while we were there. That was a really, really fun trip and it was super crazy because I’m still not back to the right time zone yet.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: We both did really well going there. We had a red eye flight and so we arrived at like 5:00 am Japan time, which we did pretty good that first day and we acclimated pretty easily. But oh my God, coming home, I’ve been going to bed at 9:00 pm every night and waking up at anywhere from like 3:30 to 6:30.

Laura: Oh no.

Kelsey: It’s gotten closer to 6:30 now.

Laura: Yeah.

Kelsey: But the first couple of days I was definitely up at like 3:00 am everyday which was not fun.

Laura: Yeah.

Kelsey: But I’ll get there. They say it takes one day for each hour of time difference, or something like that.

Laura: Oh, okay.

Kelsey: It was a thirteen hour.

Laura: I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. When I went to Australia, it took a couple days for me to feel normal again, but it didn’t take like sixteen days.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: I think it probably just depends on how much effort you’re putting in to re-acclimating.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I think a lot of people don’t take their circadian rhythms very seriously and then when they change them it doesn’t go back to normal very fast. I think you’ll be fine.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: It kind of stinks, but definitely worth it I’m sure.

Kelsey: Oh yeah.

Laura: Any major highlight you want to share?

Kelsey: Oh my God, that’s so hard. I mean, honestly just being in some of the neighborhoods in Tokyo itself, like they’re totally overwhelming in a really fun way. There’s this neighborhood called Akihabara, which is just this neighborhood full of arcades, and comic stores, and all this stuff. It’s just like this colorful explosion which is just really cool to look at and walk around in and experience.

It’s not one of those places that you go to and you go to museums and you do all this sort of “culture” stuff. You can just throw yourself into the city and it’s amazing. It’s an amazing experience. But, yeah.  It was very, very cool. I would say just walking around pretty much any neighborhood, but specifically that one was favorite, was amazing.

Kelsey: Then we went to the Ghibli Museum. Laura, do you know any of those anime movies like Spirited Away?

Laura: I’ve heard of that. Probably don’t know too many of them, but I know that movie.

Kelsey: Okay. Yeah. So it’s this pretty famous anime studio and the guy, I forget his name. Oh, Miyazaki is his name who runs it. He’s been saying he’s going to retire for a million years at this point and “This is my last movie, I swear.” But then he keeps making more movies.

They have this incredible museum in Tokyo and that was a really cool experience. I thought one of the coolest things that they do is on the brochure for the museum, they tell you that there’s no photos in the museum. And it’s more because they want you to actually experience the museum through your own eyes versus a viewfinder on your camera or your phone, which I thought was such a good way to think about not only visiting a place, but just life in general. You know?

Laura: Right. Yeah. I think Japan probably has a problem with cameras.

Kelsey: Yes.

Laura: I remember when we would see a lot of Japanese tourists in Australia, a lot of them would always have their cameras just totally glued to their faces. I think there’s nice things about taking photos when you’re on vacation, but also if you’re too attached to it, you’re going to miss out on the experience.

So I’m not surprised that you would see that in Japan because I feel like…and I’m not trying to be racist, I promise. All of the Japanese people on the trips with us that we were on would be literally attached to their camera. There’s things that Americans do that are terrible, so I’m not going to pretend like we’re awesome tourists, or something. But I definitely think that’s very unsurprising that that would be in a museum in Japan.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: But that’s cool. I think it’s funny because you and I take such different trips.

Kelsey: Yes.

Laura: I had that same feeling when I was in Costa Rica, that oh my gosh, I can’t wait to go back. Literally I thought about going back to the exact same eco lodge that I was in because it was just so relaxing and back to nature. It’s funny because a lot of times like you said, you go somewhere and you’re like okay that was cool, but what’s next?

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But sometimes you go to a place and you’re like I want to come back here! That’s awesome and I’m glad you got to do that and must have been nice kind of get away from the computer.

Kelsey: Yes.

Laura: And not be working for a bit.

Kelsey: For sure. I think it’s necessary to do that every once and while, even though it’s tough.

Laura: Yeah. I mean it can definitely be tough coming home and having a thousand emails to get through.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: But I think it’s definitely important especially when you’re in an industry where you’re really very involved with other people, and their health, and their mindset, and their progress, and their lives, and stuff. Even though I love doing what I do, I also feel like sometimes I need some of my own space and my own enjoyment time. When you get to travel it’s almost like a big reset of your energy.

Kelsey: Definitely.

Laura: Or your happiness. Yeah, that’s really cool. I feel like I’m not sure I would go to Japan, but I think maybe. I don’t know. I really like Japanese food.

Kelsey: Yeah. The food was amazing. I will say that. I can’t believe I didn’t even mention that part. But yeah, the food is awesome there.

Laura: Yes, well I know we’ve talked before about how you like to eat traditional foods while you’re traveling.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: I feel like I saw a photo on Instagram of some really weird stuff. Do you have any really weird food that you ate?

Kelsey: It’s funny because my fiancé’s uncle, his wife is Japanese. They live in California and her sister lives in Tokyo. So we stayed in a guest house that is part of her apartment building I guess, which was amazing. Then she took us out for dinner a couple times. She doesn’t speak very good English so we would barely communicate, basically just tell her order whatever. So I’m sure we tried weird stuff, but I honestly don’t know what it was!

Laura: Oh you don’t even know what it was?

Kelsey:  I don’t know what it was. Yeah, because she couldn’t really tell me.

Laura: Yeah. It’s better off you don’t know what you were eating.

Kelsey: Exactly, yeah. So yeah, weird stuff, but couldn’t really tell you.

Laura: Yeah, well again, if you knew what you were eating, you might have decided to not eat it.

Kelsey: Exactly.

Laura: I’m glad you made it back alive.

Kelsey: Defiantly.

Laura: Anyway, well that’s a super fun update. We won’t always have those kind of updates unfortunately. You and I don’t go on vacations every other week.

Kelsey: I know. Too bad.

Laura: But I feel like when you go on a fun trip, it’s fun to hear about that. But anyway, why don’t we get to our question. But first let’s hear a word from our sponsor.

Laura: Okay. This is a really interesting question and Kelsey and I were actually debating before we chose this question about how we were going to answer this. Do we know who this is from, Kelsey?

Kelsey: I don’t remember their name.

Laura: Okay.

“My question is about being a role model for kids. I’m 21 and eat mostly Paleo. I used to struggle with body image issues and mildly restrictive eating in my teens, but I’ve overcome this and now I have a healthy relationship to food and my body. I have my fair share of treats, enjoy dining with others, and love my curvier female figure. I spend lots of time with my cousins, 10 and 12 year old girls. I’m wondering how to best be a balanced and good example when it comes to food and appearance. We have a lot of big family dinners. Most of them eat a lot of cakes and ice creams, etc. and sometimes I feel like the odd one since I choose different things, and I feel very responsible to be a good influence. What do you think about special diets and being a role model for kids?”

Kelsey: Such a good question.

Laura: I know. I love she’s asking this because I feel like it’s so compassionate of her to be thinking about it because I think a lot of times women don’t think about how their diets effect young girls around them, or their daughters, or their sisters. I think a lot of this diet culture in this country is really passed down through generations. When people think about things this way and they make sure they’re not being negatively influencing the younger generation, I think that’s really sweet.

Kelsey: Yeah, and it’s so sweet too because she’s young herself, she’s 21. I can tell you that I probably wasn’t thinking about that much about this kind of stuff when I was 21. I think good on her for thinking about this since she’s spending so much time with her cousins.

Laura and I were talking about how we would answer this because it’s a really fascinating question and part of me thinks well, don’t worry about it too much. Don’t try to change your behavior based on who’s watching. But at the same time, I do think that there’s a lot that can be done to educate younger women on how they can take control of their body, and their mindset about their body and food choices, and things like that.

Given that, I think my advice would really just be to be open about why you’re making choices if someone is interested. So if your cousins are asking you, maybe making fun of you even a little bit about your odd choices as you say, be open with them about the choices you’re making and why you’re making those choices. You can tell them that it’s more for health reasons, it’s not because you’re dieting or anything like that.

I think at least a lot of people, maybe our generation and our parent’s generation, maybe had women kind of dieting around them a lot of the time, but for different reasons than we’re talking about here. So just trying to lose weight. And if you’re always exposed to that line of thinking, your mind also will eventually start to go toward that line of thinking.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: If you can educate your cousins on why you’re making these choices and that it’s not because you’re unhappy with your body, I think that would go a long way in not forcing them, or even kind of telling them that they should be doing what you’re doing, but just letting them know that you have an opinion and this works well for your body and feeling healthy and good, and that’s why you’re making those choices.

Laura: I actually wouldn’t even say anything about the weight issue at all. I mean it’s so hard to escape that when you’re a girl in western culture. I think once your 10 and 12, I’m sure you know somebody on a diet or you met an adult that’s on an adult for weight loss reasons. I don’t necessarily think you have to say, oh this isn’t because I need to lose weight. I almost feel like that gives it more attention than it really needs to have.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But like you said before, just saying the real reasons why you are eating that way, which some people might have to actually do some exploration about. If you don’t know why you’re eating a certain way and a 10 year old asks you, then you might accidently say something that makes them feel like it’s because it’s you aren’t happy with your appearance.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: So if you are very clear about why you don’t eat things, like say something hurts your stomach or causes GI issues when you eat it, you can just say to them well, I’ve had this food a couple times and I’ve noticed that my belly hurts when I eat it. And I like to feel good and it’s not fun to have a stomachache when you eat something. So I just decided not to eat it anymore because I like to feel good.

Sometimes it can be related to appearance. I know for me, gluten tends to make me break out and that’s one of the big reason’s I don’t eat it. You don’t have to necessarily have to be like this food gives me pimples and that’s why I don’t want to eat it because having pimples is bad. There’s a lot of different things that women are prone to believing about their appearance. So you don’t have to necessarily be one hundred percent honest if there’s something that you’re avoiding for that kind of reason.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But just being very positive about things and saying I like feeling good, I like taking care of my body, it’s important for me to be healthy so I can do the things I like to do. And never saying like oh well, that food is going to make me gain weight. And I don’t think this girl would say that.

But it’s interesting. I feel like talking to a 10 year old, I think we’re a lot more cautious about the things that we say. But if you think about the way women often talk to each other, or even just talk to themselves about food, it’s rare that you would have that same level of consciousness about what you’re saying when you’re thinking about it, or if you’re talking to a friend about oh, I can’t have that, it’s going to make me fat.

I feel like this question, even though we’re talking about how to discuss your food choices in front of children, I really feel like it should apply to just how you talk about your food in general.

Kelsey: Absolutely.

Laura: This is something that I’ve experienced over the last couple, I don’t know, probably the last year or something. I’m sure you’ve experienced this too, Kelsey, where people when they find out you’re a nutritionist, they either are super interesting in what you are eating, or they think you’re going to be judging what they eat.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And a lot of time they’ll ask questions, which I don’t have a problem with as long as it’s not like oh, come on, loosen up, why don’t you have this? People can be a little bit obnoxious that way. But if somebody’s really just curious, like why don’t you eat gluten? Or why don’t you eat soy? Or whatever you’re going to say. Talking about it in a way that is not talking about weight as being the issue of what you’re trying to accomplish I think is really important for all conversations because I don’t think it stops at 10 to 12. I think women are affected by this throughout their whole lives.

If you have a friend or a parent, if your mom is always on a diet, I think it can be really damaging to your personal self-esteem and your relationship with your body. So you have to think about the way you talk about your body to other people is going to affect their perception. Because maybe if you’re thinner than they are and you’re saying I have to lose weight, maybe that women is thinking well if she has to lose weight, then what does that mean about me?

It’s unfortunate and I don’t want people to feel paranoid, but I think people really need to think about the way that they talk about their diet choices in front of other people. And really what that gets down to is the way you talk about it to yourself because if you are so neurotic about your weight that that’s the only thing you care about when it comes to what you eat, then you’re not going to have the ability to talk about it to other people without bringing up your weight.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But if you yourself have the value of your health, or feeling good physically, or having good energy, or your stomach feeling comfortable, if that’s your goal then it should be easy to talk about it with other people and not turn it into this I need to lose weight question.

Kelsey: Right, and I think I would also think about not necessarily bringing it up unless someone asks.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: Because I think that can sort of just start the conversation off on the wrong foot, too, and it’s almost like you feeling like you need to defend your choices versus from coming out of a place of sort of pure curiosity. That can be the case even if someone is asking you a pointed question and you know they’re sort of trying to start something or they’re maybe thinking about your choices in a negative way and want to know your answer so that can defend why they think they’re right, or anything that.

But specifically with younger kids, they’re coming from a place of pure curiosity most times. I think that is a really important thing to remember whether you’re talking to a kid or an adult is that even behind maybe some pointed question, there often is just curiosity. People want to know.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: So I think if you can remember that and not get caught up with the defensiveness of either feeling like you need to bring it up on your own, or you needing to defend something because someone’s asking you in a way that is not a very nice way.

Laura: Yeah.

Kelsey: I think once you can kind of make sure that you’re only answering questions and bringing it up when someone is asking you, that also, speaking of being a role model, that puts you in a place of not showing that you need to always talk about food, or what it does to you, or anything like that. It’s just like oh, food, yeah, if you want to ask me about this, that’s fine. I’m happy to answer it, but I don’t need to talk about food all the time, or it’s not something I’m always thinking about. That will help you to train yourself too if you are someone right now who does think about food all the time.

Laura: Or if you’re new to a certain type of diet and you’re feeling very evangelical about it and you want to just tell everybody about it. I think it’s okay to share things with people, but I think we need to always be mindful that we’re not forcing this information on people.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That’s part of being a good role model, like you said, is just demonstrating positive choices and not forcing it on other people and making them feel guilty if they’re not eating the same way you are. If they take that guilt on themselves because they have their own issues with body image and their approach to health, you can’t do anything about that. So don’t feel guilty and don’t feel like you have to eat whatever everybody else is eating because you’re worried you’re going to make someone feel bad about themselves.

But I think having a lot of confidence in why you’re doing it, and also remembering that you can also just say I just don’t want that food right now, I think that’s something that people forget. I’ve had some clients ask me like how do I turn this stuff down when I go out? I’m like you can just say you don’t want it.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Like no thank you. Food is one of those weird things in the country that people I feel like use it as a way to show love to other people.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: If you turn it down, I think a lot of people are worried that that’s rejecting someone’s love for you. Sometimes it can come across that way especially if it’s like mother in law or someone who is like really trying to connect with you over the food that they make and you don’t necessarily want to eat it for whatever health reasons. It can be really tough because you don’t necessarily want to say no, but you do have a right to not want to eat something and to say no thank you to something that you chose not to eat.

I think that’s a perfectly reasonable way to be a role model for younger people, especially because that just shows that you don’t need to take other people’s opinions into account when you’re making decisions. And really making the best decision for you regardless of how people are going to react I think is a great thing to demonstrate for kids. But also just being okay with either saying no thank you, or if somebody is pushing it, then just saying I really appreciate the offer and this looks delicious, but when I eat this kind of stuff I feel really sick.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: So I would love to, but I can’t. Some people will continue to kind of push, but I’d say most people in that situation will actually be totally okay with it and they won’t bother you about it. Again, if they do start to bother you about it, just remember I can almost guarantee you that’s more about their insecurity than it would be about yours.

Kelsey: Absolutely. Yeah. That insecurity could come from a number of places. It could be insecurity about them feeling like they eat too much of whatever food and that you have the self-control that they don’t have. But it can also be totally unrelated to food and I think sometimes that’s hard to remember.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: But if someone is trying to give you food, and like you were saying, there’s that kind of appreciation or showing love that is really caught up in serving food to someone else a lot of times. So if you reject that, that person could feel rejected just on a personal level versus just you didn’t want that food.

It can be important to just remember that you can show affection and love in many, many different ways. It does not need to be related to food. Some people, or a lot of people I guess in our culture probably do associate food with love and affection, especially if you’re trying to give it to someone else, but you don’t need to show your affection that way. You can show it other ways. You just need to make sure people understand that means no offense to them that you’re turning down their food, that you still love and appreciate them, and there are other ways that you can show that.

Laura: Right. With a lot of younger people especially I think there’s a lot of peer pressure involved with the kind of foods that you choose. I remember when I was in college, my roommates would sometimes say things about what I was eating, that it was so disgusting, or that it smelled like vomit, or whatever. I would be cooking like eggs in coconut oil, or something. So nothing crazy.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: There’s definitely a lot of pressure when you’re young. This girl’s 21. She might be in college. She might be having some issues with being around roommates that don’t agree or support the way she eats. Just getting to a place where you feel very confident about you’re eating, and you know why you’re eating what you’re eating, I think takes a lot of that tendency to kind of argue with people about things, or to try to push your opinion on other people, or to defend your decisions with evidence. I don’t know. I mean, even just talking about this right now, I just think gosh, what a waste of time.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Seriously, like what a waste of time for people to be arguing about this kind of stuff, or trying to get somebody paint themselves into a corner if they’re trying to explain why they’re eating a certain way. I doubt that 90% of it is coming from a place of concern. You know?

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I mean it’s one thing if somebody thinks someone has an eating disorder and they’re really just honestly just concerned that the person isn’t eating things. But that I don’t think is typically what is driving these kind of questioning and making someone feel uncomfortable for not doing what everyone else is doing.

Ironically I feel like when there is an actual disorder situation that people tend to clam up because they don’t want to deal with that level of severity. But if they’re just like why aren’t you eating that? Or what are you on a diet or whatever? I don’t know. There’s a lot of insecurity coming out of those kind of questions. When you’re at the other end of those questions, it can be really upsetting, and it can feel frustrating, and feel like you want to fight back, or you want to argue.

But I would say taking the high road and just being very, I don’t know, confident in your decisions that you’re making about your food and not feeling like you have to get involved in some kind of big discussion about why you’re eating a certain way.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It just makes your life a lot easier, and then again, it kind of takes a little bit of that weirdness out of it if you’re talking about this in front of young children.

Kelsey: Yeah, and you can even bring that question up to them that you just brought up before, like don’t you think this is a waste of time? Why are we talking about this? And just making sure to not say that in a very sort of….

Laura: That’s how I would say it. Seriously? Are we having this conversation right now?

Kelsey: Yeah. But I mean honestly, it is kind of a ridiculous conversation to have because it affects no one but you. You can bring up these points, but again, unless you want to continue the fight, bring it up in a way that is kind and understanding because someone is probably is insecure about their own choices. You can pretty much assume that that is the case if they’re asking you these sort of pointed questions.

Come from a place of kindness when you bring up, why does it matter to you? Or why are we talking about this? Does it affect you in some way that I’m not realizing that I should know about? Or something like that.

Just again, take the high road because as long as you’re confident about what you’re doing and you don’t feel insecure about it, that’s going to go a long way in helping you not to feel offended or upset about the kind of comments that people might make to you. ‘

Laura: I think for this particular person, remembering that you don’t have to eat foods that make you feel bad, or that don’t support your health just to be a “role model” for kids.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I think there’s a lot of really bad foods out there. Never mind. Let me retract that. When I say there’s a lot of bad foods, I mean that there’s a lot of food out there that is not healthy that people are eating a lot of. There’s a lot of bad oils out there. There’s a lot of very nutrient poor foods. Not that’s there’s anything wrong with choosing to eat those foods here and there. Honestly as far as morality is concerned, there is no morality around food. If somebody wants to live off of cheese doodles, that is their right to do that.

However, I do think that kids’ food preferences can be very impacted by what they see adults eating. I think if they see that there is an option to decide to not eat something just because it’s in front of you is really important.

That’s something that I think parents really need to work on with their kids because a lot of parents will make their kids eat whatever is in front of them and don’t really give them the choice of saying no. Which I know a lot of parents out there they don’t want their kids to go hungry. So their like, no, eat your food, you have to finish dinner. But I think giving kids the understanding that they can decide not to eat something if they don’t want it and not making it such a big deal is really important because at the end of the day you don’t want kids to feel like they have no control over what they eat.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And showing that healthy food can taste good, and that it can make you feel good, and really pointing out the positives of eating that way and not looking at like well if you eat the junk food, you’re going to get fat, or you’re going to get cancer, or something like super negative like that. I don’t know. I think there’s ways to do this where you’re having a positive impact and showing a child, hey, this is a great way to be healthy, and to have energy, and to be able to play sports, and just looking at it from a positive way and not saying don’t eat that because it’s bad for you or something.

Kelsey: Right. Not that I think this girl is doing this, but I would really say that if you can avoid those kinds of statements basically either way, unless again prompted, that’s going to go a long way into serving to be a good role model. Because at the end of the day, you’re not affecting anyone else generally speaking with your food choices.

Unless someone’s asking you why do you or don’t you eat this kind of food, then you can just do what you do and kids will take notice of that. They’ll know that you are doing what you want to do and you’re not bullied around by family kind of saying oh, you never eat this. I always make this for you and you never eat it. You know, comments like that. That’s being a really strong role model to show them again that they can say no. And even if there are some negative comments that come out of that, at the end of the day, you are the person that is happy for making for making the choices. I think kids can see that.

Laura: Yeah. I mean I think it’s great that this girl is thinking about her cousins and trying to be a good role model for them.

I will say that the parents in this situation are really the ones that are going to have the biggest influence. So if the parents are the ones that are harassing this girl, then her cousins may see that as being normal behavior. In that situation, this girl can’t do anything about that.

But again, just trying to be as positive and non-confrontational as you can in this situation I think is just a really great way to be a role model even if the food question is up in the air about okay, what should I be eating?

 Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It’s funny because you were saying how it can be really hard to be positive. I just demonstrated how hard it is to be positive about food two minutes ago when I was saying there’s a lot of bad food out there.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It’s just something that you don’t even realize things that we say how they can have effects on other people. And I don’t want people to be paranoid. I’m not saying that you should just never say anything about food because you might say something that’s going to trigger someone or something.

But I think it’s important to remember that first of all, nobody’s going to be perfect. You’re not going to always going to remember to say everything the right way. You may say something that makes someone think something negatively about themselves. But just trying to do your best and realizing that you will make mistakes and you will say things that maybe aren’t the most positive or that are misconstrued.

It’s so hard. I know with working with clients and they’ll come to me and be like, well, I heard one time that fruit is bad for me so I don’t’ eat fruit anymore. I’m just like who said that?

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And I need to contact them and be like, listen, you are ruining people’s lives because seriously, people take things so seriously.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: They’ll just commit it to memory then just like that’ll affect the way they eat for years. It’s really weird how much food is such a big deal with this kind of stuff. I feel like food is one of those things that I don’t know why, but it’s getting so much more attention than any other topic. I don’t know. Do you think about people’s decisions to dress a certain way? Sometimes people will be like, why are you wearing that?

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It’s not as intense as people questioning why people are eating.

Kelsey: And it’s not as divisive either. Fighting over food is so silly, but it causes a lot problems for people.

Laura: Right. It’s kind of amazing how often it happens. And like we were saying, as dieticians I think we…and maybe we’re a little bit paranoid about it because sometimes I feel like I’m just assuming people are judging me for what I’m eating. I have a church small group that I go to and this one time I think somebody brought pizza as the meal. I’ll eat pizza here and there if it’s really good pizza, but it generally doesn’t sit well with me. If it’s Domino’s, I’m like nope.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I think that was the case where somebody had brought like Domino’s, or Papa Johns, or something, and I was like there’s no way I’m eating that because I’m going to feel like I’m dying later. I don’t even want it. It doesn’t taste good to me. So I brought two bananas and a can of sardines. My friends were looking at me like I had three heads. They were like why are you eating that? I’m like well, pizza doesn’t make me feel good and I didn’t really feel like trying to make something more intense.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I grabbed stuff from my house.  One of my friends was like, oh can I try the sardines? I was like yeah, obviously. But yeah, it’s just funny because it’s like, I don’t know. I feel like making those decisions can really make you feel very self-conscious in a lot of ways. There’s something to be said for social continuity, and being able to fit in, and stuff. But I think if you’re with the right people, even if they heckle you a little bit jokingly, they’re not really judging you.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: They’re just kind of surprised because they’ve never seen somebody pull out a can of sardines and just eat them out of the can. So just be ready for that kind of stuff, especially if you are spending time with people that don’t eat the way that you eat.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But it’s tough. And this is funny, I feel like the more I travel, and I’m sure you’ve had this experience before, but just seeing how weird different cultural foods can be and how different people eat around the world, I feel like it takes some of that weirdness out of the way that you chose to eat.

Kelsey: Oh yeah.

Laura: Because it’s like oh well they’re eating like octopus faces or something. I’m just having a can of sardines. It’s not that weird.

Kelsey: Right. Speaking of octopus, I did have some octopus.

Laura: I figured. I think I saw a photo with some octopus in there.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: But it’s just one of those things that I think Americans especially tend to have very narrow views of what normal food looks like.

Kelsey: Absolutely.

Laura: Just being okay with deciding to go against the grain a little bit and not feeling guilty or feeling sensitive about people’s comments to you because again, when you feel insecure about your decision, that’s when you react negatively. When you feel very confident, you’re going to be able to handle criticism and not let it get to you as much because you don’t need their approval to make those decisions.

Kelsey: Exactly. So I think bottom line for this whole question is you do you girl. If people ask you, you can come from a place of kindness and answer, and be open about what you’re doing and why. But at the end of the day, it’s just what you want to do, and doing what you want to do is going to be a good role model for young kids in your life.

Laura: One last thing I’ll add that might sound a little unrelated, but I actually think it’s very related, with girls I think a lot of times girls are very self-conscious about their appearance especially when they’re in that 10 to 12 preteen range when things start getting weird. I feel like purposefully complimenting your cousins and saying things, not like saying something about their body or something, but saying oh your hair looks really pretty today. Or oh your freckles are so cute.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Like just being complimentary to your cousins and telling them that they’re beautiful regardless of what their weight is or whatever. I feel like our culture is so weight concerned that any children that either are overweight, or even underweight, I think girls that are too skinny, or I shouldn’t say too skinny, but feel like they’re too skinny. Most girls don’t’ get told that they’re beautiful even if they are. I think it’s something that it’s important to talk to girls like that and build up their self-confidence so that they’re not looking for self confidence in their bodies and thinking that they need to start dieting if they want to be considered beautiful.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And again, I think sometimes people feel like, oh well if you start complimenting them on their looks, they’re going to take their looks too seriously. I don’t think so. I think girls kind of have it in them that they like to be told that they’re pretty. So just looking for ways to compliment them that are genuine, I think, is really good for building their self-confidence and not allowing them to think that if they want to be called pretty that they have to be on a diet.

Kelsey: Yeah. I totally agree. That’s a perfect little piece of advice to close with because that makes such a difference I think, just to kind of make people in general feel good about themselves and be complimentary. That can go beyond body or beauty too. That can be just oh you’re so funny, or just any sort of compliment that can make someone feel good about themselves I think really goes a long way into making them a more confident person. And a confident person is going to be able to make the kinds of choices about their diet that work for them outside of peer pressure or feeling like they need to lose weight or anything like that.

Laura: Yeah, definitely being generous with your compliments is a great way to be a good role model.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Anyway, I like these kind of question because I think sometimes we talk so much about functional food and how to fix health problems that sometimes we miss the bigger picture. And I like to talk about these topics where people can learn how to deal with their food choices in a way that is allowing them to have good health but not causing them to be completely obsessed with food. I think this is a great topic to kind of address just trying to make sure that people aren’t taking this stuff so seriously, honestly.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: So anyway. Well, I hope everyone enjoyed that conversation. It’s defiantly a little bit different than our typical answers, but Kelsey and I really think this stuff is important. We’d love to answer more questions like this. So feel free to share your questions in the contact tab on our website at TheAncestralRDs.com. Otherwise, we’ll be back next week and we’ll look forward to seeing you guys here.

Kelsey: Alright. Take care, Laura.

Laura: You too, Kelsey.


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