As much as Intuitive eating is getting more press and media these days, diet culture is still alive and kicking. Unfortunately, in spite of all our efforts to #enddietdietculture, people are still doing the Keto or the Noom or the whatever. Dieting is too seductive and lucrative to die off (yet- I try to keep hope alive that one day, dieting will become extinct!)

In the meantime, your co-workers are in the break room talking about how much weight they have lost or that they are not eating the cookies or blah blah blah. It’s the same sh*t, different day! How do you navigate the annoyance of diet talk? These conversations are toxic and they might even trigger or tempt you to want to go back to diet (hell). At this point let’s talk about how to shield yourself from the bull sh*t, how to let these comments roll off your back like water on a duck.

Here are 4 steps to navigate diet talk BS.

Step 1: Identify Diet Talk

Call out the bullsh*t and label it as toxic diet smack. Then, drop your awareness down into your body. Notice how your body is reacting. The body notices upsetting things quicker than the mind does. (our bodies are so wise!)

  • Is your heart racing?
  • Are your palms sweaty?
  • Are you feeling tightness in your stomach?
  • Do you feel heat or tension in your jaw, or head or shoulders?

Just notice how you feel in your body when your are under the assault of diet talk BS.

Step 2: Change the conversation, educate, or leave the room/situation.

If you can, try to pivot the conversation to something that is not related to dieting or body issues. People are easily distracted so this is the path of least resistance.

It might be tempting to try and educate them about their diet. This only works if the person is receptive to hearing your side and chances are if someone is bragging about their diet, they have not done the work that you have to heal their relationship with their body (yet). We need to honor that everyone is on a different path, and that they need to diet to control something in their life that feels out of control. (Yes- diets are not always about food and weight for the majority of peeps!)

Some people might be receptive to hearing your anti-diet message, and you can rehearse a few “come backs,” such as, “I’m trying something new called, Intuitive eating, and so far it’s really been helpful for me to not feel so crazy around food.”

If you are feeling emotional and fired up (heart racing etc.), your anti-diet message will likely get lost, or fall on deaf ears. It’s good to know right time and place to have deeper more constructive conversations. 

Lastly, if you don’t feel like engaging at all, that’s also okay! Just leave the room or situation. Take a breather, go outside and get some fresh air, because, you know your TRUTH.

Try to disengage from the diet talk! Remember, that when people are bragging about their diet, it has nothing to do with you! It’s not your story, not your problem, not your business. Not your circus, and not your monkeys! 

Step 3: Find your Truth Mantras

Mantras are statements or slogans that you repeat to yourself internally to reset you back into alignment with your true self. Mantras help shield and protect you from outside BS because they strengthen your inner belief in yourself, and reconnect you to your core values.

Some of my favorite mantras are:

  • “I know my truth and it’s not dieting.”
  • “Diet’s never worked for me, Intuitive Eating (IE) does.”
  • “Diet’s make people crazy, IE is the path to freedom.”
  • “I trust and listen to my body, not diet rules.”
  • “I was so depressed when dieting, I never want to go back to that”
  • “Dieting only makes you gain weight.”
  • “I deserve to eat normally.”
  • “My body doesn’t need to change; it’s perfect.”
  • “I reject the patriarchy, weight stigma and fat oppression.”
  • “The 65 billion $ diet industry wants me to hate my body for profit.”

Remind yourself why you are on the Intuitive Eating path, and why it’s important to keep on the path.

Step 4: Set Boundaries

Depending on the nature of your relationship, boundaries are important to set for self-protection from triggering topics. Again, there is a time and place to do so. Use I statements such as, “I have been learning about intuitive eating which is helping me to have a more joyful relationship to foods and I am moving away from talking about dieting and weight loss. It would be so helpful if we didn’t discuss diets and weight loss.”

Setting boundaries with the right person is a powerful skill and will empower you in other areas. Most people will respect boundaries but not every one will. If someone does not respect your boundary, it’s good information for you. Unfortunately, you cannot control people’s behaviors; the only thing you can control is how you respond to them. You decide how to navigate the relationship and how to best protect your energy when you are around this person.

And, one last Manta: YOU GOT THIS! HELL YEAH!

Get your guide here!

Karen Louise Scheuner, MA, RDN

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