How to Deal with Diet Talk During the Holidays
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
by Kourtney Johnson, RD, LD
It’s already October, which means Halloween and Thanksgiving are around the corner. Eventually, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, New Year’s, and several other holidays follow! While the holiday season is a time filled with fun, traditions, and quality time with family, you might also feel a tinge of dread.
Yes, the holidays are busy with shopping, preparing food, and attending events, but the reason you feel dread is for a different reason. You’re not excited to deal with the diet talk that comes along with your loved ones.
Your Aunt Karen might think she’s helping inspire her sister to become healthier when she comments on her weight, but her sister doesn’t take it that way. And when your cousin asks if you’re really going to eat dessert, you’ll likely feel annoyed and wish she would just mind her own business.
What to say in response to diet talk
There are different ways to respond when someone talks about diets. Whether a relative tells someone they shouldn’t eat a certain food or won’t stop talking about the latest diet they are on, there isn’t a right or wrong way to acknowledge them.
One of the biggest things to remember is that you decide what you’re comfortable saying. You don’t need to educate everyone about diet culture if you don’t want to. Think about what is comfortable for you before the holiday events start so you can have a plan in place. Here are a few options to keep in mind.
1. Leave the room
There isn’t a rule saying you need to sit there and listen to the conversation around you if it’s triggering or unpleasant. Take time away from the space, especially if you are angry or frustrated and don’t want to say anything negative to the people involved in diet talk.
2. Change the subject
This can be a great way to reroute the conversation. When Uncle Mike comments on his new diet, you could step in and ask how his latest vacation was.
3. Stay quiet
There’s nothing wrong with simply not responding to diet talk. If you don’t want to explain what’s wrong with the conversation your relatives are having, it’s totally acceptable to say nothing while having compassion for your loved ones who are stuck in diet culture.
4. Set boundaries
If someone continues to bring up diet talk even when you’ve tried changing the subject and you are comfortable being more direct, you can say something like: “I would really appreciate it if we could talk about anything other than Kim’s diet or Grandma’s weight.” This way you are clear about your desires and everyone understands where you’re coming from.
5. Share your story
Another option is to tell your loved ones about your experience with leaving dieting behind. Of course, if they wouldn’t be receptive to it at all and just ask a bunch of questions, this might not be the best thing to do. But if you think your relatives would be open to hearing about it, this could be a way to introduce them to the idea of being free from dieting.
6. Consider having someone in your corner
If you have a loved one who is supportive of your experience with Intuitive Eating, it might be helpful to have them as a partner over the holidays. You can talk to them about paying attention to diet talk during family gatherings so they can also change the subject, or they can simply be someone you vent to privately during this time.
If you don’t have a relative who understands what it’s like to leave dieting behind but you are looking for support, working with a registered dietitian such as Maria could be a great option. As you go through the process of learning how to eat intuitively, it’s helpful to be able to talk to someone who understands this journey. You can ask questions and chat about your experiences while knowing Maria has your best interest at heart and can give you solid advice not rooted in diet culture.
Other Posts You Might Like
- Letting Go of the Diet Mentality
- How to Handle All That Halloween Candy
- 10 Tips to Help You Reduce Holiday Stress
- Help Your Child Establish a Healthy Relationship with Food
About the Author
Kourtney is a registered dietitian who is passionate about sharing information related to intuitive eating and the harms of diet culture. She is from Minnesota but now lives in Spain, where she enjoys trying new foods and learning more about the culture there! In her free time, she likes to read, go to the beach, spend time with friends and family, and travel.
This article was edited and reviewed by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RDN, LDN, a registered dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. Maria takes a weight-inclusive approach and helps individuals rediscover the joy of food by helping them heal from chronic dieting and disordered eating. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition Science, a Master of Science in Nutrition Communication, and a Master of Public Health.