In many social situations, “diet talk” comes up regularly. It weaves its way into conversations, questions, and stories, oftentimes without us even realizing it. Diet talk is sneaky - it comes up when you least expect it. Sometimes it disguises itself as a joke or a compliment. Regardless of how it manifests itself, it is almost never helpful in the road to recovery. That's why we're here with tips to help ditch diet talk this year.
Whether you are returning to campus for the first time after the pandemic, or you’re a first-year making the transition for the first time, we are here to arm you with the tools that you need to ditch diet talk this year and continue to develop a healthy relationship with food and your body.
The first step to ditching the diet talk is to recognize it - no matter how it is slipped into a conversation. Here are some examples of comments that you may hear on campus:
“Don’t let me look at the dessert bar in the dining hall - I can’t have those things!”
“I’m not eating x, y, or z to avoid gaining the ‘Freshman 15.’”
“I earned this dinner because I just went to the gym.”
“I’m just going to have a light lunch and dinner because I know I’m going to drink tonight.”
“Wow, you always eat so healthy - I wish I could have that self-control.”
“We should all do Whole 30 together!”
While it’s tempting to engage with these comments or validate them in an effort to make friends or fit in, it’s important to realize that these comments perpetuate diet culture, and are painting a “black and white” picture of food and movement. Themes that we often hear in diet talk comments are comparison to others, shame around certain foods, or rigidity in meals or movement. When you hear these things, try using one of the following tips to combat it:
Don’t compare plates
Everyone has different energy needs, food preferences, and cravings. Keep this in mind when eating in social settings, like the dining hall. Listen to your own hunger cues, and be confident in your ability to build a balanced plate that is appropriate for your needs.
Change the subject
Stop the diet talk convo in its tracks by bringing up something hilarious that happened last night, or asking about how someone’s classes are going. Chances are, this will spark a more positive conversation.
Rely on what you know
When diet talk comes up, check back in with what you know to be true - diets don’t work. Remind yourself of any work that you have done with your dietitian, and what you have learned in session. Or, you can check out our resources page if you need help arming yourself with evidence-based nutrition knowledge.
Give compliments that don’t focus on appearance
Take the focus away from body image altogether by avoiding compliments like “you look so skinny in that dress,” or “I can really tell you’ve been going to the gym.” Instead, try something like “your comment in class was so intelligent,” “you always make me laugh,” or “you’re always so positive, and it’s contagious!” Highlight those positive things about your friends' personalities, and build them up!
Choose your community
If you find that diet talk comments are surfacing frequently when you’re around certain people, try being more intentional about surrounding yourself with people who don’t focus on food or appearance. Seek out clubs/organizations that are positive and make you feel confident!
It may be tough at first, but these tips will help you ditch diet talk this year on campus, and ultimately help you look out for your own wellbeing. This is a crucial step to ED recovery, or reclaiming your relationship with food and your body. If you are feeling like you need more support, check out our services and contact our team! We are always here to help.