RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
Responding to Diet Talk at Festive Gatherings
KATHERINE KIMBER & CAITLYN CAMPBELL, Registered Dietitian & Student Dietitian
December 17th 2019
Seeing family can be stressful, especially whilst recovering from body image or eating issues and diet talk comes up. Here are some tips for making it through season festivities and boycotting diet talk!
- You do not have to stay in a conversation that is making you feel poorly about yourself or is triggering for you. Excusing yourself from diet talk to grab a glass of water, use the restroom, or to go catch up with a different relative. These are all reasonable ways to exit a conversation like this.
- The holidays usually coincide with lots of delicious foods that family only prepare for special occasions like this. Unfortunately, you may hear someone say, “I am being so bad right now!” for experiencing those foods. While I would like to reiterate that not responding to a statement like that is always a valid option, you could respond with, “Did you steal the food or something?!” This will help lighten the mood and given folks a reminder that enjoying delicious holiday food is NOT an immoral thing. This instagram post might help too!
- If someone approaches you about a recent body size change of yours, here are a few different responses you can try out:
- “I’d prefer not to talk to you about my weight but would love to talk to you about _(blank)_.” What is something that you are really excited or happy about in your life? Have a few conversation pieces ready to slip in here to change the direction of the conversation.
- “I don’t really find that question appropriate.” This is a little more straightforward but may also help deter future questions of similar substance. You owe onlookers nothing, whether you’ve become larger or smaller, you do not ever need to explain your body to someone else.
- “I choose to not focus on my weight. How’s your family?” I put this response in here because a perfect response is to ask the person about themselves. Never underestimate how much people love talking about themselves.
- You can be bold. If you are in active recovery from an eating disorder and things are getting to be too much, certainly leave the conversation. But if you feel as if speaking up may fare better for subsequent gatherings you also have permission to be bold. You can 100% tell someone, “I am recovering from an eating disorder so, yes, my body changed. In the future don’t address my body like it’s a topic of conversation.” Or even, “Yep, weight gain (or loss) happens when you’ve recovered from an eating disorder sometimes!”
- You can kill the diet talk with kindness. If someone is trying to approach your body size change in a mean spirited or negative way, and maybe says, “Oh no, what happened? Have you gained weight?” you can respond with, “Yep” with a smile and give them a compliment on a non-body size related thing, like their shoes.
- If the heat isn’t on you, but listening to someone else’s latest diet or body size change is stressful, here’s how you can change the subject: “Aside from your weight or aside from your diet, how are you doing? I would love to hear about your job, family, hobbies, etc.”
Remember, your self-worth is not tied to the scale and this is something that you can communicate to the people in your life. If people are not respectful of the boundaries you have set, it’s time to catch up with someone else. You are an interesting person with so much more to you than one physical attribute.
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