Dealing With Diet Season

A Big Bag Full of Nope (1)It’s New Years – part of the Diet Industry Axis of Evil (which also includes “bikini season” and “the holidays are coming.”) That means that you can’t open your eyes without being assaulted by diet industry propaganda, and your Facebook feed will be chock full of people (who you likely thought knew better) starting (yet another) diet. Ugh.

Let’s start with the onslaught of propaganda. Unfortunately, people who are still duped by diet culture give the diet industry over $60 Billion a year (I don’t know about you, but I definitely used to be one of them!), and the diet industry isn’t shy or stingy about using that money to advertise. Add to that all of the gyms, health and wellness coaches, and anyone in any industry that is willing to jump on the weight loss bandwagon and we are all being bombarded with misinformation and false promises and all kinds of weight loss BS all the damn time.

This sucks for everyone who has managed to get off the diet roller coaster, and can be especially difficult for those who are new non-dieters. My best tip for dealing with this is to create a little saying that you use each time you come across something like this. Mine is “Hey, that’s bullshit!” but other people use sayings like “Nope!Nope!Nope!” or “Not this time, assholes.” Pick something that works for you and start to consciously respond to any and all diet/weightloss/fatshaming that you see, hear, or read with your new phrase. Soon enough, it will start to happen automatically and the messages will have less and less effect on you (except maybe to frustrate you.)

When it comes to our friends who are on diets, it can be particularly difficult. We know that any attempt at becoming thinner buys into and perpetuates a harmful fatphobic paradigm – and it’s perfectly reasonable to be angry about that, even while acknowledging that people are allowed to diet if they want to.

We also know that there is an almost certain chance that, even if they lose weight short term, they’ll gain it all back; with a better than average chance that they’ll gain back more than they lost. But in the meantime we may be subjected to any number of conversations, Facebook updates, tweets etc. and they’ll likely expect us to support them in their attempt to manipulate their body size based on their belief that a smaller body is somehow better.

First of all, each of us gets to decide how we want to handle this with each of our friends. That said, I want to remind you that we are under no obligation to support this behavior. As a queer woman, I would acknowledge that a queer friend is allowed to attempt reparative therapy, but I would not support it. As a fat woman I feel the same about a friend who is dieting.

Because I don’t tolerate people giving me their opinions about my health choices or body size unless I ask, I don’t give friends my opinion about their choices unless they ask. But I also draw the line at hearing/reading/talking about it. How I deal with it depends on the friend. Anyone on my FB who mentions dieting/weight loss gets unfollowed or blocked, anyone who tries to talk about their diet with me gets cut off.  If I want to try to maintain a friendship, I’ll explain that they can do whatever they want with their body, but that I don’t participate in conversations that perpetuate fatphobia and engage in diet or weight loss talk. If they decide that they can’t be my friend under those rules then that’s fine.

Regardless of how you deal with this, I definitely suggest that you remain neutral about their weight loss. All of the compliments that they are getting now are going to really sting when they gain their weight back, so reminding them that you think that they are amazing at any size will be comforting later, and will keep you from perpetuating fatphobia. (I’ve got some tips for dealing with this situation here.)

Whatever you do, hold on to your hard-won victories over the diet industry, and remember that this season too shall pass,

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15 thoughts on “Dealing With Diet Season

  1. Am I the only one who tries to fuck with people who make comments about my body? Them:”You’ve lost so much weight” Me: “I haven’t been able to eat since the plane crash” Them: ” are you expecting?” Me: “Actually, I had an accident…it was a bear. A bear ate my uterus, I can’t talk about it…”

  2. You forgot to add people who make random memes about weight loss that involve cute animals. I love pictures of cute animals (like yours) so I especially hate these memes.

  3. Hi Ragen,

    Thanks, as always, for speaking on behalf of those who may not be ready to proclaim what you do, and for educating those who have not had to experience the stigma of living in a fat body. Someone in the anti-diet world quoted you in something I read the other day, and I wanted to add it to my list of things to tell myself when I feel drawn back to the world of diets and exercise for weight loss. I simply cannot find it, though! Something along the lines of “Diet culture steals food/movement, commodifies it, and sells it back to us.” Do you remember if/when you said/wrote that? I loved how it was phrased! Anyway, keep being awesome. Thank you!

    On Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 3:05 AM, Dances With Fat wrote:

    > danceswithfat posted: “It’s New Years – part of the Diet Industry Axis of > Evil (which also includes “bikini season” and “the holidays are coming.”) > That means that you can’t open your eyes without being assaulted by diet > industry propaganda, and your Facebook feed will be chock” >

    1. Hi Kristen,

      Thanks so much. I think they were quoting me quoting Courtney Hanneman “The diet industry steals our self-esteem, cheapens it, and sells it back to us at a profit.” Does that sound right?

  4. Yuuup I’m definitely seeing the “New Year, New You” bullshit. I think I wrote something around that day espousing the absurdity of it. Regardless if I’m where I am now or however many pounds lighter, I’m still me. I am happy that my friends are NOT trying any “Your health would improve if you lost weight” nonsense with me, and if I hear diet talk, I usually ignore it. It hasn’t been directed AT me, so I just kind of tune it out and scroll past on FB. People are allowed to post whatever they want on their pages, and I can scroll past whatever I want. I am happy I didn’t need to cut anyone off this holiday season, as I’ve had family that has made comments about my weight in the past (and before I became more informed, I was someone who would do the same). Whatever choices I decide to enact about my body are my own, and if I want advice/opinions, I’ll ask for them.

  5. Another thing that makes me super angry about diets – I have food intolerances. There’s a bunch of stuff I can’t eat without feeling like crap. And there are people willingly depriving themselves of foods I would love to eat. I want to smack them SO hard.

  6. What are some things you say to end the conversation? Every time I ask people to not talk about their diets they get mad at me, and usually talk to others who are near me (for instance, a dining room table. Sure they aren’t talking to me, but they know I can hear them). And then how would you deal with that passive agressive move where they talk about it in front of you, but not to you, in a situation where you can’t move (like when you’re eating a meal). I have a brother who does this quite often, and family meals can be torture.

  7. I hide a fair number of diet-related posts. At this time of year, even my friends who are supportive fall into the self-deprecating weight-related “jokes” spiral. Sigh.

  8. Can we come together as a community and try to bring attention to fatphobic exploitative shows like my 600 pound life, and now a new one called family by the ton(I think they tried a show like that some years ago, and it bombed) on TLC, like we did The Biggest Loser? They run these shows every new year to fit into the weight loss/diet theme.

    TLC just won’t quit.

  9. 2017 came to a murky finish for me as far as fitness goes. The last two months, I was dealing with sinus issues and a bad back. Both of these things made it tough to hit the gym or do Yoga as much as I wanted. Because of our temperate climate, I still did a lot of yard work in those months, so I wasn’t completely idle. Plus, I had activity which got my mind off my physical problems, and that was good. 🙂

    I do feel like ’17 was the first year where I frequently went through the usual “healthy” activities (like having a plate of veggies or a good stretch) without constant noise in the back of my mind about weight loss. I got well away from the eternal waiting for the big payoff that we all know never comes: at least not for very long, for most people. When I did these things, I strove to enjoy them for their own sake. When I couldn’t do them, I strove to not beat myself up. I told myself that temporary setbacks are just that, and eventually they pass.

    So thanks to R.C. and everyone else here, for all your help. I appreciate what I read and learn here, even when I don’t comment. 🙂

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