As warmer weather approaches and getting a "beach body" becomes a popular topic of conversation, use these 4 practical tips to combat diet talk in the workplace.
As we get closer and closer to summer, it seems like the diet talk explodes everywhere around us. Diet culture has ingrained getting “beach ready” and dieting for that “summer body.” It seems like I notice this diet talk more and more in the work setting than I did before. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve immersed myself in a little non-diet bubble, that when I do hear it, I’m able to pick it out better and I’m more attuned to it? Or if the talk has actually increased? Regardless, you are not alone when you feel like you can’t escape the diet talk in the workplace.
We spend so much time at work and with our coworkers that it’s hard not to start to get affected by this diet talk that you’re hearing around you. Diet talk can be sneaky and might not simply be stated as “I’m going on x diet.” Comments like “I’m so good/bad for eating x,” or “I really need to give up x, it’s so bad for me,” or “We did x amount of activity today, so we can have a cookie,” etc. You’ve done such good work and are on this beautiful journey towards ditching the diet mentality that it’s tough not to let it get under your skin.
So how do we deal with this diet talk swirling around the watercooler?
Consider your options
You have a couple options on how to directly deal with the diet talk. You can choose not to engage in the conversation, change the subject, physically remove yourself from the conversation by going to the restroom. Decide whether or not you want to educate in the situation or just let it go. It can get mentally frustrating educating people who just don’t want to listen. If the person you’re in a conversation with is really adamant about their style of eating/dieting, you’re probably better off using a different tactic than education.
If you do decide educating someone on the non-diet life and the benefits that come along with that, be prepared for what may happen. While some form of debate is good to engage in at times, you don’t want to endlessly be going back and forth with someone on the topic. Just keep that in mind as you consider educating on not dieting and the intuitive eating approach.
It’s hard for me to balance this education piece, especially because I’m a dietitian and I really enjoy educating others on the topic of nutrition. I often go back and forth between whether to slide tidbits of education into a conversation and just letting it go. I don’t like conflict or confrontation, so I tend to make a non-diet related comment and move on from the conversation instead of engaging in debate.
All good relationships need boundaries to be set. You have the right to create these boundaries regardless of the type of relationship. Whether it be your significant other, dear friend, family member, or coworker. Boundaries need to exist to have a good, healthy relationship. You are also allowed to change your boundaries as you continue diving deeper into your non-diet journey.
Think of these boundaries as a line you don’t care to cross. When you’re coworker brings up this new diet they’re on, try changing the subject. “I’d rather not talk about that, did you watch the latest Grey’s episode?” Depending on how direct you want to be and comfortable you feel doing so, you might choose a more firm statement. “I don’t really want to talk about diets and losing weight anymore.” Know who you’re speaking with and what kind of a relationship you have with this person before responding.
Remember, you don’t need to join in to fit in. Be yourself and stick to your beliefs by shutting down the diet talk.
Create your non-diet bubble
The power of support groups can be phenomenal! Surround yourself with as much non-diet, body positive content as you can. Go through your social media feeds and remove accounts that don’t support your non-diet journey. Seek out non-diet dietitians on Instagram and create a safe social media space for yourself. I’ve made some amazing connections via IG and you will too! It’s a great place for creating virtual support and meeting like minded people all over the world. A great Facebook group to join is Cara of Street Smart Nutrition’s You Can Eat with Us. If you haven’t already, read Intuitive Eating, Body Kindness, Health at Every Size. These are great resources to have and to turn to when you are feeling discouraged with people in your workplace not supporting your non-diet beliefs.
Be compassionate and yourself
Have confidence in your beliefs and the science behind them. You know dieting doesn’t work, why not, and how much better you feel not doing so! Remember that and recognize that not everyone is on the same path as you yet, so don’t get discouraged.
Be compassionate with friends or close coworkers who are still on the diet train. You’re probably not going to go into a full blown non-diet rant to your close friend who’s super excited about their new diet. But you can say something like, “You know I’m not a fan of diets and I love you the way you are. While you may do this anyways, just remember to take care of yourself and put your well being first.”
Another tough situation is dealing with a coworker who is celebrating weight loss. It’s a tough place to be in and I’ve found myself there several times recently. You don’t want to brush it off, but you don’t want to encourage it either. Ask them how they feel, if they notice anything is different and go from there.
Navigating body image conversations, exercise-food connections, and other diet-y messaging is hard. I’m not going to lie. It’s everywhere and it takes a lot of work to get yourself to a place of not dieting, let alone survive a workplace where it’s often around you. Remember how you got here, the work it took, and how much better you feel! Don’t be afraid to reach out for support, I’m here on this journey with you!
Hey everyone! I'm Emily - a Registered Dietitian & food lover! I love sharing simple, tasty recipes & mindful nutrition tips here on my blog. You can browse my site for other services I offer & learn how to work with me :)
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