Tips to Help Swerve Toxic Diet Talk 2.0

Diet talk is EVERYWHERE. It’s on television, in magazines, at the grocery store, the dentist, the hair salon...we can’t avoid it. We’ve written about diet talk in previous posts: here, here and here, but with the holidays now in full swing we wanted to expand on this topic and provide a little refresher to help keep you armed and ready for how to manage.

With that said, let’s quickly define “diet talk”. Diet talk includes any conversation around restricting foods/ food groups to lose weight or exercise for the sake of wanting to change our body weight, shape or size. Diet talk isn’t limited to diets in the most obvious sense such as Whole30, keto, paleo, Atkins, macro counting… It is swirling around us even in the most mundane conversations:

“Oh, I’m so bad for having that (insert food here)….I’m not going to eat tomorrow to make up for it.”
“You’re so good for skipping dessert! I wish I could have your self-control”.
“I feel so bloated after that dinner…good thing I’m starting a Whole 30 in January!”
“I better get my steps in today if I’m going to have a bite of that (insert food here).”

It’s happening so frequently that we might not even realize it’s happening.

For those who are recovering from an eating disorder or perhaps working towards intuitive eating, these conversations can be toxic and triggering. Diet talk places a huge emphasis on self-worth being defined by our food choices and interferes with our ability to listen to our bodies internal cues for what it needs (food, rest, exercise, etc.). If you follow your plan, you’re “good.” If you fall off, feelings of guilt and shame are quick to follow. Nasty stuff!

So, how do we navigate these conversations and protect ourselves?

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Here are TEN TIPS to help you swerve that toxic diet talk:

  1. Think to yourself, “Good for you, not good for me”.

    1. What “works” for one person doesn’t work for everyone, and certainly doesn’t need to work for you

    2. Just because Susan at work cut out gluten from her diet and claims to feel amazing, doesn’t mean you need to jump on that bandwagon, too.

  2. Consider things critically.

    1. Does the diet sound too good to be true? It probably is!

    2. Is there any solid research to support the claims behind the diet? (for the record, there has YET to be a study demonstrating sustained weight loss from dieting)

    3. Aside from anecdotal evidence, is there anything to back up with the diet purports to “fix”?

    4. YOU decide how others’ thoughts, opinions and beliefs affect you. Let their food comments and their own body concerns bounce off you.

    5. Be the voice of reason for others.

  3. Clean out your social media.

    1. Be discriminatory in who you follow on Instagram. If the account makes you feel “less than”, constantly comparing yourself, or like you aren’t good enough as you are, they might not be worth following

    2. We wrote an entire blog post on that here!

  4. Walk away.

    1. Excuse yourself. You don’t need to explain.

    2. Escape the conversation - go to the bathroom to collect yourself if need be.

  5. Change the subject.

    1. Say something to shake up the conversation, “Hey, let’s talk about something else. Did you see the new Lady Gaga movie?”

    2. People might be taken aback by your lack of participation in the diet talk, but everyone will be happy to move onto something else

    3. Talk about something meaningful you are generally interested in- it will be a refreshing change for everyone

  6. Stick to your guns. You’ve probably heard by now that diets don’t work.

    1. You’ve got bigger fish to fry. You’re supporting your physical and mental health without diets (which are harmful) and you have no room for diets in your life

    2. Arm yourself with this knowledge (check out our resources page for more)

  7. Respond with something like…”You know, I’m kind of bored with these types of conversations”…and change the subject.

    1. Or, make a joke about it and move the conversation along! See ya’!

  8. Put your blinders on.

    1. Once you see diet culture around you, you can’t unsee it. Call it for what it is, and don’t let it take up any more brain space than it already has.

    2. Create your diet culture bubble- this includes step 3 above. Surround yourself with healthy, supportive relationships and absorb all the anti-diet podcasts and books that you can.

  9. Get mad at diet culture and empower yourself to rise above it.

    1. The only feeling stronger than shame is anger. Getting mad at the culture that celebrates weight loss at the cost of mental and physical health can be helpful in breaking up with diet culture

    2. Studies indicate that 95% of diets end up failing. STAND UP to the anti-diet banter and give yourself a pat on the back for doing so.

  10. Tighten your social circle.

    1. We’ve all had that one friend or acquaintance who incessantly comments on their (or others’) food and body.

    2. Limit your time with those individuals. This can be tough but limiting your exposure to negative presences will leave you feeling better off.

Moral of the story, you can create an anti-diet bubble for yourself, ignore these conversations and make the active choice to rid it from your life. It is up to you whether or not you want to educate others or explain yourself, but you also are not obligated to do so. Putting your own well being ahead of others’ diet talk is a form of self-preservation. If you have questions or comments, feel free to drop them below!


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We're a group of non-diet, balance seeking, cupcake consuming, quinoa loving, registered dietitians. 
By sharing our expertise, favorite tools and services, we want to help you heal your relationship with food and body and find your own balance amidst the diet culture chaos.

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