How to Deal When Your Friends Go On Diets

no diet talkIt’s New Years, which means that people close to you – family, friends, co-workers etc. – will very likely be going on diets.

For those of us who have managed to get ourselves off the diet roller coaster, this can be an especially tough time. Not only are we being bombarded with ads to try to convince us to try (again!) at something that we know doesn’t work,  but also (because we live in a fatphobic society,) people who are attempting to manipulate their body size can often expect – and feel entitled to – our support. Even though, for those of us who are fat, this amounts to someone telling us all about why they don’t want to look like us and how excited they are about the things they are going to do to try to make that happen.

How you choose to deal with someone who wants to talk about their diet with you is entirely up to you (and may include factors like how much energy you want to put into this, the power structure of the relationship, your personal beliefs around familial relationships etc.)

What I think is important to understand is that, while people who want to attempt to diet are allowed to make choices for their own bodies (as we are allowed to choose not to diet,) that does not mean that we have to be there to listen to and support their attempt.

I say this because, if we’re not careful,  fatphobia will convince us not only that we are somehow obligated to support people in their body manipulation attempts, but also that they don’t have to support us, or respect our boundaries around our choice not to attempt to manipulate our body size. That’s bullshit. Our choice not to diet, and our desire not to hear diet talk are valid and should be respected.

Here are some options – you can do them individually or combine them:

Fair is Fair

If they get to talk about their diets, you get to talk about your choice not to diet – whether that takes the form of Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size and/or something else. They talk about their diet, you talk about not dieting. They claim a supposed health benefit of dieting, you talk about how that benefit is achievable without the risks of dieting. etc.

If they push back, let them know that you expect that you will respect and support each other equally, and if they can’t get onboard with the idea that your choice is equally valid, then this isn’t something that you can talk to each other about. Good news though, there’s plenty of other stuff to talk about!

Make Your Own Resolution

When someone starts in about their diet, say something like “My New Years Resolution is to stop being involved in diet talk – it’s harmful to me and others, so let’s talk about something else.” If they push back you can say something like “You are welcome to do whatever you want with your body, you’re just not welcome to talk to me about it. Let’s talk about something else.” You can certainly provide more explanation if you’d like but, again, you are not obligated. Your choice is valid and your boundary should be respected. The only reason that people think that they should be allowed to talk about weight loss anytime they want regardless of other people’s desired (or a group’s clearly stated rules!) is because our culture is built on fatphobia. You don’t have to buy into that.

So Many Reasons

You can let them know why you can’t support them. It could sound something like “Of course you are allowed to do whatever you want with your body, but I can’t support you in this because I know that dieting is based on and perpetuates fatphobia, fuels an industry that makes billions with a product that almost never works and often does harm, and can lead to disordered eating and eating disorders.”

No, With a Side of Support

The research tells us that, while almost everyone loses weight in the short-term, almost everyone gains it back long-term, with the majority gaining back more than they lost. Which means that everyone who encourages those who are losing weight in the short-term – including and especially by telling them how much better they look etc. – is actually going to be just one more voice making it worse when they are right back where they started, or heavier, before they know it. So you can let them know that you aren’t interested in hearing about their diet, but then add something like – “I think you are amazing and beautiful at any size.”

Just Snarky AF

I’m not saying that I recommend these necessarily, just that they are…options:

Oh jeez, please tell me that not-eating isn’t the most interesting thing you have to talk about.

Losing weight, huh? Well, my New Year’s Resolution is to learn to levitate, so we’ve got basically the same chance of long-term success!

If I have to hear about your diet, I’m going to tell you about my bowel movements, in vivid detail, with pictures. Or, we could talk about something else, totally your call.

Was this helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Sick of diet talk? Want to tell fatphobes to take a hike? Want to explain how important fat-friendly seating is? There are songs for that. Jeanette DePatie and I have collaborated on some revamped holiday songs that we are releasing between now and the new year! Below is a playlist of the songs we’ve released so far. If you want to make sure not to miss future videos, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel!

 

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Body Love Obstacle Course

This e-course that includes coaching videos, a study guide, and an ebook with the tools you need to create a rock-solid relationship with your body. Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty isn’t going to cut it. The world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. Over the course of this program, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, and six incredible guest coaches will teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you when it comes to living an amazing life in the body you have now.
Price: $99.00
($79.00 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)

Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRON-distance triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!  (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

I’m (still!) training for an Iron-distance triathlon! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com .

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

3 thoughts on “How to Deal When Your Friends Go On Diets

  1. “Which means that everyone who encourages those who are losing weight in the short-term – including and especially by telling them how much better they look etc. – is actually going to be just one more voice making it worse when they are right back where they started, or heavier, before they know it. So you can let them know that you aren’t interested in hearing about their diet, but then add something like – “I think you are amazing and beautiful at any size.”’

    This is my personal favorite. Trying to involve me in your *cough* “health journey” may be the equivalent of dancing on the train tracks and trying to drag me onto them with you when I’ve still got wheel-prints across my face from the last ten “lights at the end of the tunnel” that ran me over, but as corny as it sounds, I want you to know your worth as a human is not something for me or anyone else to grant you. It isn’t something you need to “earn” through dieting and weight loss, nor is it something you can lose if the diet fails and the weight loss doesn’t stick.

  2. A breath of fresh air, Regan! At the moment at work, I have one WW “success,” one WW “failure,” one keto who “is horrified [she] ever let herself get so big,” one very hard worker (heavy lifting all day) who wears a weight vest, and several assorted ankle weights, food group avoiders, CrossFit adherents, and a personal trainer who works there part-time. All genuinely lovely people who don’t overtly fat-shame, but man. The trainer is the one I feel the least pressure from, incidentally. Fitness and movement and conscious eating are fine, of course, but the talk and the lionizing of people who have temporarily altered their body size are exhausting. They obviously believe that thinness is more valuable than fatness, and it’s tiring. (And inescapable.)

  3. I gotta be honest here. I am mentally ill and isolate so much I don’t have much contact with people. And I prefer it that way. Even with my limited social circle I have a relative who has been dieted since 1959, seriously. Up down up down. One who has had weight loss surgery, is thin now, and very very sick. Fat relatives who live into their eighties. Relatives of all sizes with diabetes and not. And a handful of seasonal new years resolvers.
    I am too sensitive to go the snarky route. I think snark and give gentle smile and mhnmm non committal replies. To be more honest. I hardly care. Aside from the personal/political/socio economical/health care worker gauntlet aspect of the weight issue, I really don’t care.
    What another person chooses to do with their physical being, short of hitting me with it is so not my business. I acknowledge it is business, a lucrative business of bottled hate and fear, wrapped up to look like the best birthday present ever! Diet don’t diet, exercise, don’t exercise. That is your life!
    I wish it was just that simple. It isn’t, but when it comes to me, coming across people trying to alter their body shape and contours, it is a non-starter. But then, how often do I come across it? Just enough to catch the glares if I eat in public, listen to cousins latest on the bandwagon of “misery loves company”, the best day fat…yadda yadda yadda.. I don’t know, too much else going on in the world for it to hold me. What am I gonna do, tell people to stop? No one cares what I think.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.