How to Navigate Diet Talk as an Intuitive Eater
The days are getting warmer. People are getting vaccinated. Businesses
are opening back up. This means there are more social settings and events
where you may find yourself trapped in diet talk. What is diet talk exactly?
Diet talk is a conversation involving anything around restricting foods or
excessive exercise/fitness challenges to change our body’s appearance.
Could be a friend talking about getting that summer bod. Or a family
member talking about how they’re pumped to get rid of their Quarantine-15.
How many times have you been at a party and heard:
"I wonder how many calories are in that…"
"Ugh, I NEED to lose weight before the beach"
"I can't eat that; I’m doing Keto right now";
"You just ate! You’re still hungry?”
"You're so skinny, I wish I had your self-discipline"
“Probably need to go on a run tomorrow to make up for this…”
Unfortunately, these subtle remarks have become normalized in our culture
and some people can be unaware of how these comments can have a
negative impact on your (and possibly others) mental state.
So, what do you do when you come across a situation like this as you’ve
just started to do intuitive eating? First, start by asking yourself if you have
enough emotional and mental energy to explain your point of view. If you
do, ask yourself if the person/group open to learning new information? Here
are a couple examples of what to say if you feel comfortable enough to tell
them about your thoughts:
“I've been working on my own relationship with food and would like
"I'm glad you brought that up, I was stuck dieting for a long time
too…” (Tell them a bit about intuitive eating and your journey).
If you do not have the energy, here are some examples of things you can
say to navigate the conversation:
“Thank you for thinking of me but I don't want to talk about dieting or
“Everything has to find what works for them. How has _____ been?
(Change the subject)
“I feel like we always talk about diets! Have you watched any good
shows on Netflix lately?”
And of course, if you’re more confrontational/feeling bold, there are some
ways to cut the conversation and leave it at that:
“Please don't comment on my body.”
“I’m working on accepting my body and comments like that don’t
make me feel good.”
“Nothing wrong with eating something that tastes amazing/nourishes
“I like moving because it feels good and I feel stronger.”
“I exercise to because it makes me feel good."
“I'm full/satisfied, thank you! We can take it to go though.”
Remember, you don’t have to explain why you don’t want to talk about
diets unless you want to. There is also nothing wrong with not saying
anything at all. In any situation where this comes up, it’s important to create
boundaries. If you’re not comfortable, you can always take a break or
excuse yourself from the group.
For everyone, even those that are no intuitive eaters, it is important to be
aware of how your comments affect others. Someone may have lost
weight due to sickness, disordered eating, grief, etc. but after receiving
praise and attention, it creates a fear of going back into that setting,
worrying that people will think they let themselves go. It’s tough as it is to
work on healing your relationship with food without the added pressures to
conversations about bodies and diets. Some examples of non-appearance
compliments you can use are:
You’re such a good listener.
You are so strong.
I love how passionate you are about _____.
You are a great friend.
You make me feel important/cared for.
You have a contagious smile.
You have a beautiful soul.
You inspire me.
Above all, remember that it's not your responsibility to teach everyone
about diet culture and how it can be unhealthy for some. It's your
responsibility to take care of YOU.
Don't let these conversations jeopardize your progress. Treat your body
and mind with respect and nourish it with food in a way that feels good.
What's been your experience setting boundaries with diet talk?