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The Importance of Boundaries Around Diet & Body Image

by Erin R. Windrim about a month ago in relationships

With examples of how to enforce them

Photo by William Fortunato :

Boundaries. A word that may sound scary and limiting, but when used properly in various areas of life can bring a sense of comfort and reassurance.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a boundary as “something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent,” which may be in a physical form such as a fence or a line of trees. The type of boundary that I’m referring to in this post, however, is the kind that you typically cannot see and has the ability to protect a person emotionally, mentally, and energetically, in addition to physically.

Establishing boundaries in both my personal and professional life is something I’ve been working on for the past few years (upon realizing I was sorely lacking them in many areas), and I’ve been diving further into the concept even more as of late.

Boundaries can mean protecting our time, energy, money, physical space, and more. Enforcing boundaries teaches others how we like to be treated, what we need, and what we will and will not tolerate.

It means saying yes to yourself and taking care of your own needs first. It’s not selfish! It ensures your own comfort and safety, and that your needs are met so that you show up as the best version of yourself to be able to help serve others better.

In my professional life, boundaries have looked like:

  • Not using text message as the primary form of contact with clients and colleagues (instead I make it clear that I prefer email, or a phone call text if an emergency)
  • Establishing before and after work “out of office” hours to separate my personal and work life; I’ve found this to be especially helpful while working from home
  • Not working with clients who talk down my rates or try to barter with me
  • Agreeing to working evenings and weekends only if it works for me and I have the bandwidth
  • Saying no to projects with unrealistic turnaround times unless I truly want to take it on and feel like I can deliver, and deliver well
  • In my personal life, boundaries have looked like:

  • Saying no to events and activities that I’m not interested in or do not have the energy for
  • Distancing myself from individuals who are highly unaligned with my values, who drain my energy, or who consistently make me feel a negative way
  • Establishing expectations, wants and needs in relationships
  • Disengaging in conversation that is harmful or hurtful
  • Saying no thank you when offered something that I am not interested in
  • Examples of setting boundaries when it comes to diet and body image

    Judging food choices

    If you’re eating with someone who judges your OR their own food choices, shut it down respectfully and compassionately by saying “Talking about food choices that way does not work for me, and I have to ask that those types of comments aren’t made in the future. Let’s move on to other topics and enjoy our food.”

    Peer pressure around food

    If you are being pressured into eating something that you don’t like or are full, shut it down by saying “I said no, I do not want any. Thank you for offering.”

    If someone is pressuring you to eat a certain way, start a diet, etc., respect their choice while standing up for your own by saying “I respect and support your choice to eat any way that works for you, and I will eat in the way that works for me. I do not wish to start a diet.”

    Negative body image talk

    If someone is belittling their body, your body, or someone else’s body, shut it down by saying “Discussing body image in that way doesn’t feel good to me. Let’s talk about other things.”

    Boundaries work both ways

    Of course, boundaries work the other way around too, and we should always practice self-awareness of how our words and actions may potentially impose on the boundaries of others.

    If you’re unsure whether you’ve crossed a boundary, ask! The other person will likely appreciate the opportunity to be honest, since bringing it up themselves can be very uncomfortable. Also practice paying attention to possible subtle changes in facial expression, body language and mood. If you notice a negative change, correct course by saying “I’m sorry, I think I may have taken that too far.”


    About the author

    Erin R. Windrim

    Certified Holistic Nutritionist, recipe creator & wellness event host at | Also a wellness brand designer at

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