7 Ways to Deal With Diet Talk
Alex Raymond, RD, LD
“New Year, New You” are messages that we all are plagued with at the end and the beginning of each year. Everywhere we turn, whether it’s social media, the TV, or friends or family, we’re bound to hear information about the latest diet and workout trends. If you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, you know this scenario all too well. And you know just how triggering these messages can be. Of course, the eating disorder wants to buy into these messages. But, the recovery side of you knows these schemes offer a “quick fix,” and don’t actually “fix” anything. The recovery side of you knows these diet trends are really just disordered eating behaviors and they lead to an increase in guilt, shame and frustration. Not to mention they give the eating disorder more power. So, why don’t we figure out a way to buy into the recovery side and work on tuning out and talking back to the diet talk that will inevitably arise during the first couple months of the new year.
Unfollow triggering social media accounts
First and foremost, unfollow all those social media accounts that are promoting intentional weight loss. These are just steeped in diet culture. This includes fitness Instagram stars as well as other celebrities promoting weight loss or “toning” body parts. You also may want to consider unfollowing recovery accounts that post too many food pictures, especially if they’re pics that talk about “clean eats.” These accounts may be helpful to some, however, they are promoting a “right” way to recover. And “clean eating” to me sounds like another diet culture term that could prevent you from full recovery.
Lastly, consider blocking posts from friends or family members who post about “food goals” or “body goals.” There is a way to block posts from coming up on your timeline without unfollowing someone, in case you feel awkward about unfollowing someone you know.
And remember… those social media accounts aren’t going anywhere, so if you unfollow them, and it becomes too difficult, you can always go back on follow them in the future.
Follow helpful social media accounts
On the opposite end, try to increase the amount of recovery-focused, positive social media accounts you follow. Search for hashtags like… #nondiet #antidiet #haes #healthateverysize #nondietdietitian. I’d recommend to save the posts that resonate with you, so you can go back and visit them later.
Sometimes, people may use these hashtags and they might not be entirely recovery focused or non-diet. So if you come across something that triggers you, it’s okay to unfollow that person or even that hashtag. Use your gut… if it sounds “diet-y” it probably is.
Family and friends live in diet culture just like the rest of us. And they are not be immune to diet talk during the New Year. They may not completely understand how damaging the messages can be for other people to hear. It’s okay if you need to walk away from a conversation. You don’t need an “excuse” to leave the table. Because you feeling uncomfortable is reason enough. But if you need one, you can always say something like… I have to go to the bathroom. Or I’m going to lay down for a little. Or I’ll be right back. Simple is okay, and you don’t need to explain yourself.
Find Someone Who “Gets It”
Whether it’s your therapist or dietitian or family member or friend… ask yourself if there is anyone in your life who understands diet culture and/or your eating disorder. Perhaps they could help you call it out. It’s so important to get validation that you’re doing the right thing by fighting against diet culture. Especially since so, so many people in our society are bogged down by dieting, food fears, and body preoccupation. It’s quite uncommon for someone to stand up for the anti-diet belief system.
Make a List of Positive Affirmations
The list could have reasons why you are in recovery and what you appreciate about yourself. You can read it on challenging days, especially if diet talk voices are loud. Here are some examples:
I am worth so much more than what my body looks like
I appreciate what my body does for me so I can enjoy life
I want to have a positive relationship with food
I like ____ about myself. This has nothing to do with physical appearance
I don’t have to change a thing about my eating habits.
Make a List of Why Dieting Doesn’t “Work”
Read this one on tough days too! So you can be reminded why you’re trying to avoid diet talk. It can be used as some fuel to fight back against your eating disorder’s voice. Here are just some examples, but I encourage you to write down others that resonate with you.
Dieting will lead to an increase in food and body image thoughts/behaviors
Dieting promises people to feel better about themselves, but the opposite is true
Dieting tells me that my body is wrong. My body is not wrong, diet culture is!
Dieting requires food restriction, which is NOT “healthy.”
You have permission to speak up and say “Can we talk about something different?” Or “this conversation is not helpful.” Or “Talking about food and body in a negative light is something I am trying to avoid.” It’s totally okay to speak up when something is bothering you! Especially if the information could trigger ED thinking and behaviors. After all, your eating disorder has been your voice for too long, wouldn’t it be great to practice having your own?
Alexandra Raymond, RD, LD, REBEL RD, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is passionate about empowering her clients to rebuild a positive relationship with food. She specializes in anorexia, orthorexia, disordered eating in athletes and enjoys working with families. Alex is truly passionate about working with her clients to support them along their recovery journey. She enjoys speaking at events for education and awareness of topics like the HAES principles and body positivity. She also works with RD2Be's and other RD's to share her knowledge about these topics.