27 Responses to (Never-Ending) Diet Talk
For fat people and those with eating disorders, diet talk isn’t as benign as it may seem. Here are some ways to respond to it.
Diet talk is everywhere.
Co-workers talk freely about how much weight they feel they need to lose. Family members recommend diets. Tech bros talk about “biohacking” through intermittent fasting. Everyone, it seems, is trying to lose weight, and wants to shout their methods from the rooftops.
As a fat person, though, all that diet talk is far from benign. It can sting to listen to loved ones and acquaintances alike talk about how far they’ll go to avoid looking like me. It sends a powerful message about how they think of bodies, and the nightmare they consider a body like mine. It’s a hurt I’m expected to swallow, time and time again, lest I rock the boat with the unreasonable demand that they not bemoan my body — my home — in my presence.
But the harm of diet talk isn’t just an insult — it can also directly harm our health. One in four people who diet will develop an eating disorder as a result. (Yes, that includes “lifestyle changes.”) Teens who heavily restrict their eating are 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder. Diet talk can both normalize eating disorders and help initiate them.
For those of us with histories of eating disorders, diet talk isn’t just small talk — it can directly, immediately harm our physical and mental health. Even for those of us who haven’t struggled with eating disorders, so-called “fat talk” has been shown to be contagious, and has been linked with low self esteem, worsened body image, and a decrease in healthy behaviors.
Putting an end to diet talk
Whether you’re a fat person, a person with a history of disordered eating, or just someone who wants to stem the tide of diet talk to help those around you, it can be hard to find a rejoinder to put a stop to this ubiquitous (and, frankly, boring) phenomenon. So here’s a list of possible ways to intervene. The following responses range from sincere and supportive to caustic and sarcastic, depending on your style and the situation:
- “Please don’t talk about diets (or…