How to shut down diet talk

It’s gotten really quiet in here…

It’s gotten really quiet in here…

Some of you may know that I actually once quit a job because of diet talk. INTOLERABLE endless diet talk and diet-y lunches spent discussing diets.

At the time, I was starting my career, very pregnant, and working in Harvard Square, surrounded by rather fabulous sources of takeout. 

But there was a diet+work ethic in my office that meant everyone spent lunch together. And not in a restaurant. At a conference table in the office. Same time, every day, same thing: Noon sharp, the cottage cheese and half grapefruits would come out - this was February, mind; hard on the mirror neurons! - and the diet talk would begin.

Reader, I lasted a few weeks in that job. This was many years ago, and I wasn't as informed about beauty standards, diet culture and the damage doneas I am today. I was also financially insecure, to say the least. But I had an allergy to diet talk and an understanding that calories are actually what our bodies want for lunch. 

(Also, pregnant. No ability to fake anything, no patience, no hormones to spare for making nice and acting like I was interested in counting calories.)

So, anyway: I had to leave. It felt imperative. 

And that remains my no. 1 pro tip for dealing with diet talk: GET OUT.If relentless diet talk is in the air, and it so often is, try to remove yourself and go where the air is clearer.

If you can't, have some ready responses. Here are some I find effective:

When asked about your diet:
- I don't diet. I love food! I love to eat. (It's like throwing a grenade, that.)

When your food choices are being monitored and commented on:
- Oh does this seem like a lot to you? Honey, you should see what I had for breakfast!

When foods are being demonized:
- You do know the brain runs on glucose, right?

When hearing the same damn comment about the virtues of cottage cheese (or grapefruit, or keto, or the vegan lifestyle) for the 45th day in a row:
- [Swerve!] Are you gonna go see La Llorona?

But if I'm honest, I'm having trouble remembering what was in my handy retort repertoire, because it's been so long since I needed any retorts. The fact is,when we stop fretting about our own eating, we're impervious to the judgements of others. And diet talk and side eye and pass-agg comments like "gosh, you're really treating yourself today!" just bounce off us and roll into the corner to die. 

The less diet talk we hear, the less it informs our thinking, and the less we think about diets and restriction, the less attuned we are to diet talk in the environment. It's like Rumi's 10,000 idiots: Did they pack up and leave town? Did they fall mute? Or are we just not listening to the idiocy? It doesn't really matter; all we know is it's gotten blessedly quiet in here.

Max Daniels