Goal: The goal of this hand-out is to help food addicts protect themselves from people who push
Application: In our culture, processed foods are in widespread use. Often, friends, colleagues, and
family are very attached to processed foods and want clients to use them too. Without meaning to, they may become ‘pushers’ of processed foods. It’s helpful for clients to find ways to protect them-
selves from these pushers and their suggestions.
At the same time, many food addicts suffer from ‘relationship sensitivity’ stemming from repeated exposure to unfair and harsh judgements. This may make it difficult for food addicts to stand up for themselves. With a little practice and preparation, food addicts can learn to stop the pusher while maintaining civility.
In some cases, food addicts may want or need to retain personal or professional relationships with these pushers, so it’s helpful to find a way to stop them without giving offence. Sometimes they just need a bit of education. Being consistent in avoidance of processed foods will help reinforce boundaries.
If the clients is going to be seeing difficult people, the client can practice saying the phrases shown below out loud. Clients can visualize the person and pretend that they’re speaking the phrase to them. By rehearsing in the ‘planning’ part of the brain, clients may find that they are more prepared and calm when the moment comes to set the boundary.
Here are some short, easy, effective responses to invitations to use processed foods.
Sometimes it can take several years for someone to come back to the client and ask again about what they eat. People may not be willing to change until they get a medical diagnosis, or someone in their family becomes sick. Always be patient and courteous. Beware the person who is in a big rush. Encourage them to take things slowly.
It’s helpful to remember that clients live in an epidemic of a terrible disease of processed food consumption. Clients won’t be able to save those who need it, no matter how desperate the situation, unless they’re ready. It’s rare to find someone who is ready. Start with just the food lists and encourage them to get processed foods out of their house and replace them with the unprocessed foods. When they’re comfortable with that, then perhaps give them the food plan so they can begin to assemble their unprocessed ingredients into meals. Be careful not overwhelm them. If they’re on Facebook, clients can encourage them to join one of the food addiction groups while assuring them that they’re probably not a food addict! Generally refrain from diagnosing people. Let them come to their own realization on their own.
Handling pushers with short, effective phrases will help clients feel powerful enough to take care of themselves without being rude or alienating people. This is a phrase borrowed from Al-anon, ‘Be bold, be brief, be done/gone.’
You may find that you’re ready to avoid people who are hyper-persistent, or who emotionally abuse you through teasing, ridicule, or shame. Through your calm collective behavior, you will show people that you mean business. You can do this!