You may be one of the thankfully growing number of people, who has realised that diets don’t work and are taking steps to heal your relationship with your body and food, without dieting, without restricting, and without deprivation.

You may be learning new skills to resolve your emotional overeating.

You may be learning new ways to meet your needs without food.

You may be doing the extraordinary work of creating peace with your body, cultivating respect for it – and even learning how to love it.

You may be relearning how to eat in an intuitive and mindful way.

And yet….

You’re mired in a weight obsessed culture

…bombarded by fear of the ‘obesity epidemic’. Perhaps your doctor insists that you lose weight to qualify for surgery or improve a health condition. We are surrounded by Diet Culture, Fitspo,  Thinspo – and peppered with unrepresentative images in the media… and it’s hard to get away from conversations about weight loss and diets! It may be happening at work, at social events, or even having a cup of tea with a friend!

So – what to do?

Give yourself compassion

This can’t be understated. Giving yourself compassion is a way to support yourself. It’s a way to tell yourself ‘this is hard.’ ‘I’m sorry you’re struggling here.’ ‘It makes sense that this is hard – diet culture is everywhere and many people don’t get where you’re coming from.’

But compassion has another vital element – it reminds you that you’re not alone. You remind yourself that thousands and thousands of people are also finding their exposure to diet talk really hard, and really triggering.

If you can,  you might also extend compassion to the people who are very much still entrenched in diet culture – they too are victims of it and are almost certainly suffering to some degree because of it.

Clean up your social media!

Really and truly – you can curate your social media streams! Unfollow, Unlike or Hide any and all people, groups, organisations or companies that promote any kind of dieting, extreme exercise, certain body shapes, detoxing, body/exercise/eating challenges (unless they’re of the Mindful/Intuitive variety).

You do not need that! It simply keeps you tied into that mindset – and it can be very seductive.

If any of your friends on social media post about their weight loss or latest diet, unfollow them. You don’t need to unfriend them – you simply won’t see their posts on your timeline.

Then… replenish your social media with supportive Pages, organisations, groups etc. They are growing in number! The more you expose yourself to body diversity, body acceptance and peaceful eating approaches, the calmer, more accepting and peaceful you will feel about your body and your eating.

Make a deal with yourself

If and when Diet Mentality is triggered (meaning you’re thinking about losing weight and how to control your eating to make that happen) – promise yourself you will not Google or research anything on that topic.

What to do with people, in the here and now

When the people in your life are talking about diets and weight loss, it’s much harder to deal with.

Here are some options:

Avoid

Avoidance is an option! Avoiding won’t work long term, and it’s not healthy to live our lives in avoidance – but if you’re very vulnerable to these messages, if you find it hard hold your non-dieting-body-accepting space in the face of it, then excuse yourself from the conversation in any way that you can. Make it as easy for yourself as possible. Tell white lies, if you have to!

Cut the conversation short and find a reason to leave it.

Distract / Divert

You can change the subject in a polite way – you could say ‘Oh, that’s interesting [about their diet/ exercise regime/ detox… whatever] … Ooohhh – you know – I saw this fabulous movie the other night….’

‘I’m reading this fascinating book called Buddha’s Brain by a neuropsychologist – Rick Hanson…’

‘Did you watch that interview the other night with… ?’

‘I read an article recently about …’

‘I saw this hilarious collection of photos on Facebook, of animals that have got stuck in the funniest positions… ‘(and go on to describe)

‘So how is….’ (their child/ parent/ animal)

If you know you’re going to be in a situation where this is likely, you can even go somewhat prepared with other things to talk about.

Deal with it

This can get messy. If you’ve ever had a discussion with someone who has different political, religious or ethical beliefs from you, you’ll know! The Pursuit of Thinness is pretty much a national pastime. It’s almost a religion itself – with its own dogma, sanctions and idolatry. It’s pretty difficult to change people’s perceptions, particularly if they themselves are emotionally invested in it.

And – you can try!

You can start by explaining to people why you’ve stopped dieting. Here are some ideas:

  • Almost everyone who diets regains the weight within 5 years
  • Up to two-thirds of people who diet gain more than their starting weight
  • Dieting is a consistent predictor of future weight gain
  • More people are dieting more than ever before, and there are more heavy people than ever before – there’s something fishy with this picture, don’t you think? Maybe it has something to do with the previous point…
  • There is not one proven diet that helps people lose weight permanently, safely
  • I’m fed up with yo-yo-ing, and given the high likelihood it’ll happen again, I’ve decided to put my focus on accepting myself as I am, eating in a more intuitive and mindful way, and doing exercise I enjoy.
  • I’m fed up with being miserable, and depriving myself. I know it ends up in tears. I’m tired of that cycle. Instead, I’m working on my relationship with food and my body. It’s so liberating, and I’m much happier.
  • I’m tired of the time and energy it takes to get and stay thin – it’s like a full-time job! I have other stuff I want to do with my life! Like…
  • Dieting actually interferes with body trust, body wisdom, and ironically, self-control!
  • The relationship between health and weight is not as clear as the media and mainstream medical profession would have us believe. There are studies that show that heavier people live longer than thin people! Weight is often correlated with disease, but that doesn’t prove causation. There are many possible reasons for this correlation. If you’re interested to know more, I recommend you read Health At Every Size.

What are some of your ideas about what to do when it seems that everyone around you is talking about diets? I’d love you to share your responses in the comments!

Other resources:

A UCLA meta-analysis of diets

Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift

Everything You Know About O*esity is Wrong

Ready to heal your relationship with food?