If you struggle with diffusing "diet talk" before it triggers you into a relapse then try using these two simple strategies the next time you find yourself around triggering conversations.
Can you ever imagine living in a world where no one was obsessed with dieting? Where your colleagues didn’t compete to see who could lose the most weight at the start of each year, and where you didn’t have to worry about your best friend nagging you to try the latest celebrity dieting fad with her every other week?
I think it’s a wonderful vision to have, it’s something I encourage all of my friends to strive towards, and as a society we are slowly beginning to see the dawn of change via organizations like Endangered Species.
However, right now the fact of the matter is that the world remains rife with dieting, and more specifically “diet talk” – something that I know from personal experience, can have a truly detrimental impact on your recovery process.
Of course you won't find any diet-talk here at Bulimia Help but out in "the real world" it can be very different. Think about it. Do you find it very triggering when friends confide in you that they “need to go on a diet?” Or perhaps when they start listing all of the “bad foods” they can no longer eat?
It can become even more upsetting when friends attempt to recruit you as their "diet buddies," so it’s always good to prepare a plan of action, so you know how you’ll deal with these situations, just in case!
1. Honesty can help you to navigate your way through triggering diet talk.
The next time you’re confronted by a friend who tells you they “need to diet,” try to stay away from those knee-jerk “you look lovely, just the way you are” comments (apologies to any Bridget jones fans out there) and instead try a more honest approach. Ask, “How are you feeling?” or “You seem stressed, is everything okay?”
Bulimia recovery teaches us that thoughts of food restriction and losing weight often indicate much deeper emotional turmoil, and I believe this can apply to anyone, regardless of whether they have an eating disorder.
If a friend asks you to join in on their latest escapade into fad-dieting hell you may need to take honesty that little step further and let them know that you’re not interested in dieting or losing weight. if you’re not ready to talk about your recovery then adding, “I’m completely happy with my body” can help (even if you don't believe that right now).
2. Humour can be used to diffuse triggering dieting conversations.
Here are two examples of how people have used humour successfully when faced with diet talk in recovery…
Right at the beginning of my recovery I read a blog post about using humour in this way, and its always stuck with me.
In the post, the writer, who was also recovering from an eating disorder wrote about her experiences of using humour to diffuse triggering conversations. When faced by the triggering statement, “I need to lose so much weight” she simply replied, “perhaps you just need to go to the bathroom?”
Humorous responses like this can immediately alleviate tension and tend to stop diet talk in its tracks.
At the start of the year, Aimee, one of my old recovery buddies, shared a conversation with me to explain how she’d dealt with an invite to join in on a “detox plan” at work. It went a little something like this…
Work Colleague: “Hey, do you want to try out the new [name I won’t say] detox plan with me next week?”
Aimee: “Me? Are you kidding? If I don’t eat every few hours I’m in danger of gnawing my own arm off… speaking of gnawing arms off, have you seen that new zombie tv show The Walking Dead?
I had to laugh a little when I heard her response, but it really does seem to do the trick, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t want to discuss recovery, or the ins and outs of why you don’t want to diet.
Granted “zombie movies” may not be great conversation changers at all times, but like Aimee, you can use humour to get your point across and to change the subject all in one breath. Try it next time you’re faced with a difficult conversation and see if it helps.
Get access to our FREE mini course to end binge eating
The information provided in this website is for information purposes only. The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright. If you do think you might suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek professional help with working on an eating disorder.
Copyright © BulimiaHelp.org. 2013. All rights reserved.