How to Cope with Weight Comments at Family Holiday Parties

Woman with ear muffs

The holidays and family, don’t you just love the weight comments? Know how you will handle a family member who makes unnecessary comments about your weight.

Everyone has to prepare for family holidays in their own way.

Some people are making the meals, others gifts, and almost everyone is gearing up to deal with the uncomfortable comments or questions from family members.

“Are you dating anyone?”

“When are you two going to have kids?”

“Have you lost weight?”

“Looks like someone’s putting in the freshman 15…”

All of these are dreaded by everyone, but it’s the final two comments that can go from being merely annoying to dangerous. Facing these comments and questions repeatedly will inevitably result in hurt feelings but can also result in disordered eating, thoughts, and behaviors.

Unfortunately, you can’t control your family, or what they say, but you can control how you will respond to these comments, should they arise.

Everyone has a line that determines how much they are willing to take from others before they do or say something to defend themselves. Generally, the “line” is crossed when someone makes a comment that hurts you, emotionally, mentally, or physically.

Know where your line is and stick up yourself when it is crossed. How you stick up for yourself is up to you. The important part is maintaining your safety and comfort.

If someone is threatening that without any regard for you, you need to deal with the situation in a way that brings you back to safety, whether that involves having a discussion with the person or removing yourself from their presence.

Body Comments

Comments regarding other people’s body size or shape are detrimental to eating disorder recovery, could prompt disordered eating behaviors, and create a negative environment regarding weight, appearance, and food. No matter where you are in your relationship with your body or food, external comments about weight are dangerous.

Woman sitting in the snow

How will you react should someone cross your “line?” Will you be confrontational, shocked, outraged, or simply silent? Plan a response so that you can walk away from the interaction feeling as if you handled it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

It is worth noting that addressing the problematic remark doesn’t have to be confrontational or cause an argument. So many people make flippant comments about body weight, size, and shape because they don’t realize the harm this could cause.

Gently pointing this out to them could help you feel more empowered and comfortable and may also inspire your family member to avoid making these remarks again.

The bottom line is that the holidays are stressful for everyone but particularly those who are struggling with their body image or relationship to food. These individuals may feel stress and anxiety during holiday festivities, mainly because so many holiday traditions focus on food.

Treatment professionals report seeing increased rates of eating disordered thoughts and behaviors during holidays for these very reasons [1].

If family members are making comments that add to these struggles, channel your strength and resiliency into responding in a way that protects you. You deserve to celebrate the holidays free from negative thoughts about your body, your worth, or food.

Sponsored by Magnolia Creek

Peacefully nestled in 36 wooded acres and located just outside of Birmingham, Alabama, Magnolia Creek Treatment Center for Eating Disorders treats women (18 years and older) who struggle with eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attachment disorders, dissociative disorders, personality disorders, and co-occurring addictive behaviors. Magnolia Creek’s phenomenal team of therapists, doctors, nurses, and dietitians is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care using current research-supported methods in a cozy, retreat-like setting. With a dual license to treat eating disorders and mental health disorders, we work collaboratively with our clients to create an individualized treatment approach for each client that not only nourishes the body but also strengthens the spirit.

LindasmithAbout the Author: Linda Smith is the Chief Executive Officer of Magnolia Creek Treatment Center for Eating Disorders in Columbiana, Alabama. Prior to joining Magnolia Creek, Linda served as an Electronic Interchange Consultant for Comprehensive Radiology Groups throughout the state.

She also worked with one of the leading facilities in addiction, Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services located in Hattiesburg, MS. She has extensive experience in inpatient, outpatient, residential and partial hospitalization treatment, and is well versed in eating disorders, co-occurring mental health disorders, substance abuse, and love and sex addiction.


[1] Staff News Writer (2012). As holidays bring heightened risk for eating disorders relapse, eating recovery center promotes strategies for protecting recovery. Mental Health Business Week.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on December 5, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 5, 2017.
Published on