Our clients are doing the hard work to leave diets behind so they can create healthier, happier, and more confident lives.
And while this work is clearly rewarding, it can make navigating a still diet-centric culture somewhat difficult..
In the world we live in, our diets, “lifestyle changes,” and weight struggles have all become fodder for everyday conversation, just like talking about the weather or summer travel plans. It’s a version of small talk that, unlike a throwaway comment about the humidity, feels more like a true connection.
And this would be harmless if it were, in fact, harmless. But diet talk can have some pretty ugly consequences. When I was in college, deep into dieting and body insecurities, there was a girl in my sorority who was in a smaller body than me. She was always talking about dieting, exercising to change her body, or how fat (and therefore bad) she felt. Now I’m able to recognize that she was working through her own struggles, which I have immense empathy for, but at the time I couldn’t help but think, “Wow if she thinks she’s fat, what does that make me?” And so I’d self-loathe and diet even harder.
See what I mean? Here are some other other offhand diet-y comments that carry unintended negative consequences:
“You look like you’ve lost weight. Have you been on a diet?” People lose weight for a variety of reasons. Maybe weight loss did occur as a result of the implementation of healthy habits. But what if this person is ill? Or going through a breakup? And what happens if/when s/he gains the weight back? These weight-focused comments are often accompanied by implied praise. So what happens if/when this s/he were to gain the weight back?
“No thanks, I’m being good this week.” Before you label your food choices and yourself as good or bad, think about if it’s really serving you. (Spoiler alert: It’s not. Think about what happens when you finally “cave” and eat said “bad” food.) You can explore that idea here.
“I wish I could eat like that…” First of all, you could (with the exception of a food allergy or other medical condition)… And, if it’s a way that you’d like to eat, you probably SHOULD. As we’ve discussed, the result of restricting is often ultimately bingeing. Plus think about the insecurity, second-guessing, and shame a comment like this may cause your dining partner.
So, yeah, needless to say we’re O-V-E-R diet talk and, if you’re reading this, you probably are too. But let’s be frank: It’s not easy to go against the status quo. When you start your personal journey of prioritizing health without diets, two things happen:
- You may be the “odd woman out” when it comes to diet small talk. This can feel like a loss of connection, even if it’s ultimately what’s best for you.
- You very clearly recognize how triggering, infuriating, damaging, and common these conversations are. This can be a bit confusing to navigate, especially when you’re still doing your own internal work. Do you go with it? Do you say something? Do you stay home all day to avoid any future diet talk exposure? AH!
Whether you decide to educate your friends, coworkers, family, and acquaintances on the damage of diet talk is totally up to you. But one small, low risk step you can take is to simply crowd out diet talk with other, more meaningful conversations. Here are some of our favorite conversation starters that are way more effective at generating true connection:
- What do you do when you’re not working?
- What’s your big career dream?
- What’s the best thing you’ve purchased recently that cost less than $100? (Shoutout to Tim Ferriss for this one!)
- What’s something you’re really excited about right now?
- What are your goals for this year?
- If money was no object, what career would you choose?
- What’s your love language?
- What’s the one skincare product you can’t live without?
- What is one thing you hope your child is learning from you?
- What’s on your travel bucket list?
- What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
How have you dealt with diet talk in the past? Leave a comment below. And if you’re still confused on how to stop dieting and start getting healthy (for real), check out our free mini course: The 3 Keys to Never Diet Again.