Ugh. Diet talk. Besides promoting weight stigma, triggering disordered food thoughts and behaviors, and spreading inaccurate messages about nutrition, it's just plain BORING.
Unfortunately, this time of year around the holidays it's kinda hard to escape. Whether it's Aunt Sally guessing how many calories are in the Christmas cookies she just ate, or coworkers making plans for their new years detox diet, it's pretty much a given that you're going to be exposed to diet talk at least once.
If you're someone who has fully embraced the non-diet message, diet talk is annoying. If you're in recovery from an eating disorder, disordered eating, or healing from chronic dieting, diet talk can be destructive. That's why it's important to be prepared with ways to change the conversation.
Here's 15 things to talk about other than dieting:
1. How tasty a food is. My personal favorite way out of diet talk. If someone starts talking about how many calories are in a food or how fattening it is or how gluten is the devil, I start talking about how tasty I think that food is. You want to talk about how bad pizza is? Well, I'm gonna change the conversation to my favorite pizza toppings or why New York-style pizza is better than all other pizzas or get uncomfortably in detail talking about the amazing pizza I had last week with the perfectly crispy crust bubbles (the best part!) and the cheese strings when I took a slice and the blizzard of parmesan cheese I poured over the top and the hit of spice in the pizza sauce. Changing the conversation to the pleasure of eating refocuses back to the most important part of food.
2. Celebrity gossip. Stuck listening to a friend talk about a new celebrity diet they're trying. Respond with a bit of gossip about said celebrity. "Ohh, so you're doing Lindsay Lohan's new soup cleanse? Did you know she once wore white to a wedding she was DJing at and kept playing Brandy's The Boy is Mine on repeat?" True story.
3. The life of a family member who isn't present. I mean, probably isn't the nicest way to change the conversation, but let's be real, the family is gonna gossip, so might as well use that to selectively get out of diet talk.
4. Favorite holiday traditions. The holidays are about family and friends and connection. Tap into that side by asking people if they have any fun or unique holiday traditions.
5. "What's going on in your life/relationship/work?" Because everyone likes to talk about themselves.
6. Your body positive New Years resolution. Stuck in a conversation with everyone sharing their crazy exercise and detox diet resolutions? Share your body positive resolutions. Tell them that your goal in the new year is to love and accept your body the way it is. That'll quickly shut it down. Check out these body positive resolutions for more inspiration.
7. Whip out pictures of your dog. Or baby. (But really your dog, because let's be honest, dog pics > baby pics).
8. "I'm rewatching Friends on Netflix. Who was your favorite random celebrity guest appearance on it? Julia Roberts. Or X-Files? Giovanni Ribisi. Will and Grace? Gregory Hines.
9. Travel. If someone starts bashing a certain food, try tying it back to travel. "You say cheese is fattening? You know, I recently heard France has the highest per capita consumption of cheese. I believe it! When I was in France, we had the most incredible cheeses! Have you been?" "Those potatoes are high in carbs? Did you know potatoes were cultivated in Peru? I haven't been, but my friend just returned and his pictures looked stunning!"
10. Fitness for fun. When someone starts talking about the extreme workout they're planning to burn off dinner or to do in the new year, talk about your favorite fun way to move you body. Share how it makes you feel when you're outside hiking or how you discovered yoga is really soothing after work or that lifting weights has made you feel really powerful. Again, you're focusing the conversation back to the most important aspect of movement.
11. Controversial topics. We have a no sex, politics, religion, or Princess Di rule at the dinner table. There's a relative who is still very traumatized by her loss. But honestly, I'm willing to waive the rule if the alternative is diet talk.
12. "I'm sad you feel you have to change your body." Tell them you think they're pretty cool, in the body they're in today.
13. "Can we talk about something other than diets?" Be up front and tell them that diet talk makes you uncomfortable. Diet talk has become such a social norm, it's likely the other person has no idea the topic could be hurtful. If you know the person well and feel comfortable explaining to them why, that can be helpful for their growth and learning. But you can also just leave it as diet talk is boring so lets discuss something else.
14. I don't diet anymore. If you feel comfortable confronting the diet talk, go for it! Just be sure to make it about yourself, not about pressuring them. Some helpful statements:
- "When I learned that 95-97% of diets fail, it made me realize I was chasing a losing pursuit"
- I realized when I deprive myself of certain foods, I end up eating more, so I decided to give myself permission to eat all foods, even the ones that used to be off-limits.
- I read this book (Intuitive Eating/HAES/Body Respect/whatever) and it really changed my outlook on dieting. If you're interested, I'm happy to tell you a little about it or lend it to you?
15. "Oh, that reminds me! I need to get my green juice in." Then walk away.
Any conversation starters (err, diet conversation enders?) that you like to use? Leave a comment below!
P.S. As we're getting close to the end of the year, if you have any HSA dollars you're looking to use up, and don't want to spend on a lifetime supply of Band-Aids, shoot me an email to schedule a nutrition consultation.
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