By Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LGSW, Guest Contributor
We live in a culture where we are inundated with advertisements and individuals that discuss their latest diet plans with almost a religious fervor. It seems like no matter where you go, diet and weight-related talk pops up in everyday conversation.
Although it is viewed as socially normative for someone to talk about their diet plans and weight-loss attempts, you are perfectly entitled to set boundaries with people when this kind of conversation occurs.
Diet talk and discussions about weight loss can be harmful for people in a variety of ways. For instance, this kind of conversation can be highly triggering to individuals in recovery from eating disorders. Additionally, it promotes an unhealthy relationship with food and one’s body.
Frankly, it’s also just boring conversation. I am amazed at how I can be in a room filled with women who have incredible careers and are raising families, and the conversation quickly turns to diet or body-disparaging remarks. There are so many more interesting and important things to talk about.
The Problem With Dieting
Research demonstrates that dieting does not lead to maintained weight loss in the long-term for the majority of people, may lead to increases in one’s set-point weight over time, and can trigger eating disorders in genetically vulnerable individuals. Dieting is s a multi-billion-dollar industry that makes profit off of people’s insecurities and self-doubt.
Listening to your body and nourishing it with food and movement that you enjoy, will serve you much more than any diet ever will. Your body is amazing and is much more knowledgeable then any external source of information or alleged “guru.”
If you are struggling with listening to your body, it could be helpful to reach out to a treatment professional who is knowledgeable about intuitive eating, disordered eating, and health at every size.
Tips for Shutting Down Diet Talk
The following are some ideas for things that you can say when faced with the dreaded diet conversation. Especially with the holidays coming up, it’s a good idea to come up with some responses that you can say when this kind of conversation happens.
- I’d rather talk about anything other than your diet! What else is going on in your life?
- I hear that you are really into your new diet, but talking about it keeps me from enjoying this meal and my time with you.
- Did you see the new Game of Thrones episode?
- I hear that you’re into your new detox cleanse, but I save money by relying on my functioning liver and kidneys.
- Life is too short to worry so much about food, so I choose to focus on other things.
- I’m trying to focus on listening to my body’s needs, so could we refrain from the diet talk please?
- I try to never discuss diets or politics at family events!
What To Say if Someone Comments on Your Weight
The following are some suggestions for what you can say if someone comments on your weight.
"You look great! Did you lose weight?"
- I choose not to focus on my weight. There are so many more interesting things about me.
- No clue. I don’t weigh myself. So how has your family been?
- Nope. I just look and feel great.
- I feel great, and that’s all that matters.
- I don’t really find that question appropriate.
"Have you gained weight since I last saw you?"
- I’m happy and healthy, thanks for noticing.
- Yep! (with a smile)
- Is weight something that you focus on?
- No clue. I don’t tie my self-worth to a number on a scale.
- I’m trying not to focus on my weight, so I’d rather you not comment on it.
- I don’t think that’s an appropriate question. My body is nobody else’s business.
Of course it is up to you and your comfort level in terms of what to say when someone launches into their latest diet tirade or makes a comment about your weight, however it is well within your right to set some appropriate boundaries. Just because someone wants to talk about their diet, does not mean that you must sit there and listen.
Ultimately, the food that you eat and the size of your body do not determine your worth or value as a person. You are worthy of love and belonging. You are amazing-just as you are.
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LGSW, is a psychotherapist specializing in working with adolescents, survivors of trauma, eating disorders, body-image issues, and anxiety. She is a blogger on The Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Connect with Jennifer through her website at www.jenniferrollin.com.