‘Tis the season for family and friend gatherings! Although this is generally a joyful time of year, many can also dread having unwanted conversations about weight and dieting. Whether it’s going out with the crew the night before Thanksgiving or visiting your family back home, unfortunately diet talk can be a topic.
There’s no other way to put it: diet talk sucks. Especially when it’s being projected onto you by the ones you care about.
While it’s often a generational thing this perspective has trickled down thanks to society, social media, and advertisements. We hear it from Boomers who were pressured into Jenny Craig and low-carb diets back in the day, and have continued to revisit and exhaust these diets year-after-year. We hear it from Millennials who were advertised the keto diet and Whole 30. And although there’s nothing inherently wrong with any type of diet, projecting it onto your family (adult or not) is not beneficial. What works (or doesn’t work) may or may not work for another person, but ultimately it’s no one's business what diet you are or are not participating in.
We feel it’s necessary to think about how to handle these uncomfortable conversations. No one wants to be food or body shamed, regardless if it’s a holiday or a random Tuesday.
Below are examples of how to respond.
Projector: “Are you sure you want to eat that?”
You: “I don’t make rules about food.”
Projector: “You’re hungry again?!”
You: “Oh yeah, I have this crazy thing where I eat when I’m hungry, not when family or society tells me I should be hungry.”
Projector: “Oh my gosh, I’m so stuffed! I don’t know how you’re still eating!”
You: “I don’t appreciate you food shaming me.”
Projector: “I thought you were dieting?”
You: “I thought you were married, Aunt Carol, but here we are.”
Projector: “I see that you’ve gained weight since I saw you last.”
You: “I have, thank you for noticing! I feel great, oh, and I just got a promotion.”
Projector: “Don’t go derailing your progress by eating that!”
You: “Lately, I’ve been working on improving my relationship with food and don’t feel that this conversation is helpful to my goals.”
Projector: “I’m trying this new Whole 30 diet. Have you heard of it?”
You: “I’m happy to support you, but I do not want to talk about dieting.”
If speaking up in this manner is not comfortable for you, practice ahead of time. This doesn’t mean you need to prepare to come in hot when you’re visiting your family, but practicing in your head, in the mirror, or with a partner can build your confidence.
If you don’t see yourself feeling comfortable or confident addressing the person projecting diet talk at all, some alternatives could be walking away from the conversation or changing the subject.
Ultimately, we want you to enjoy your holidays guilt-free and that starts with creating a safe environment for you.