Are you so over diet talk?
You’ve made the decision to stop dieting, to remove food rules, and to end negative self talk about our body so that you can heal your relationship with food and focus on doing what is best for your body.
The only issue is…. Your coworker won’t stop gushing about her latest diet, your mother will be sure to share with you how many calories a cookie has, and your friends won’t stop expressing their concerns over how ‘bad’ they all are for ordering the burgers at the restaurant!
Diet culture is everywhere! So how do you avoid these conversations that are not conducive to the healthy relationship with food you want to have? This is a super common questions that I receive from clients and followers on social media.
Here are several tips to help you opt out of diet talk.
As you read through them, remember that most people who are still dieting and endlessly talk about it are not out to make your life more difficult. They are victims of diet culture themselves and are likely struggling to an extent with food and their own body. Your job is to protect yourself from these conversations. It always comes back to putting the focus on your life and what is best for your health.
How to Opt Out of Diet Talk
1. Excuse Yourself
If it’s possible, you can physically remove yourself from the place where the conversation is taking place. You can be polite and say “excuse me while I go to the restroom”, or if you are in a crowd you can simply excuse yourself and walk over to the other room, do something in the kitchen, make a phone call, etc. your internal cues.
2. Change the Topic
Have a few topics in mind so you are ready to change the topic. Especially if you know the topic of diets tends to come up with this person or group of people. It doesn’t have to be a clear segway. Choose any topic you know will spark a conversation or distract from the current diet conversation.
3. Challenge the Conversation
If you feel comfortable, you can share what you have learned about having a healthy relationship with food and why you chose to stop dieting. You can ask the person if they are interested in hearing more about this approach where food is peaceful and can help them live a healthy life without the stress or obsession of calorie counting and body shaming. Be part of the change and spread this message.
4. Set Loving Boundaries
Decide how much energy you want to invest in setting boundaries around these conversations and with who. Then take the next step in setting loving boundaries around these conversations. I say loving because many times it is the people closest to us that we care about that will continue to bring up the topic of diets. Setting boundaries is also an act of self love. They may be stuck in diet culture, that does not mean you need to tolerate and engage in it. Here’s how to do it:
- Choose a calm time to discuss it before the next conversation occurs. The heat of the moment is never a good idea.
- Explain why you (always keep it about you, no finger pointing) do not want to take part or be around conversations related to dieting or body shaming. Tell them how you enjoy talking with them and being in their company, but that diet talk is something that you’d like to set a boundary on for reasons mentioned above.
- Ask if they think they can keep to this boundary. In most cases, if this is someone you care about and who cares about you, they will want to help you and agree.
- Set an agreed upon reminder! Often times people are so in the habit of talking about diets that they will unintentionally bring it up again even after you’ve discussed you won’t. So next time the conversation comes up, you gently remind them about the boundary that was set and change the conversation.
5. View Dieting as a Religion
View these conversations as you would someone talking about their religion. I mean, would you try to convince someone who is Christian, Jewish, or Buddist out of their religion? Highly unlikely! A person’s religion is deeply rooted into their beliefs and values, and yes, dieting can be as deeply rooted in a person’s belief system. It is not your job to convince them that diets don’t work, let them take their own journey in figuring it out. Don’t own their story! Remind yourself why you are no longer on the same path (and where it has led you in the past) to help you move forward toward a healthy relationship.
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Thank you, Rachel!
Hi, Anna! Glad to hear!
This was very timely, even though the post is over 2 years old, haha. Just this week, I had three friends mention various components of the latest diet they’re on and I absolutely cringe and feel anger rising inside me every time something like that is mentioned. I’ve been thinking they’re doing it to brag like ‘oh, look at me, I have discipline to do this and look at YOU, you really should be on a diet too.’ But maybe that’s not actually what they’re thinking and, if it is, who cares! I am not going down that road again and I am in recovery to get off this merry-go-round and get on with real life. Using your tips, I will reframe my thoughts and channel that anger-energy back into my own recovery and continue to change the subject when this topic arises. I hope to eventually dip my toe into challenging the conversation because honestly, I feel sad for anyone who still thinks going on a diet is the solution to feeling out of control with food.