Boundaries: Holidays Without a Side of Diet Culture

Holidays are a time to be grateful. Grateful for loved ones gathering around traditions of food, drink, and festivities. Yet, diet culture always seems to creep in and sabotage what are meant to be peaceful and celebratory days.  

You might notice diet culture creeping in with:

  • “Turkey Burn” workouts to compensate for overindulging on food 
  • Skipping breakfast to earn the big dinner feast
  • “Guilt-free” desserts
  • Post-holiday cleanses 
  • Comments about pant sizes and the next weight loss goal

Whether you’ve been in the anti-diet space for a while or you are just entering this new world, these comments can easily suck us right back up into diet land. It can be so hard to deflect and ignore these comments that seem so normal to the average person.

First, let’s remind ourselves that the diet industry is a 70 billion dollar industry that is extremely powerful. Messages in the media are prolific. We are taught to hate our bodies, ignore hunger, cut out “bad” foods, exercise to burn calories, among many other toxic thoughts and behaviors. 

This is why diet culture chit-chat seems so normal to your Aunt Sue. 

AND, that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate it. 

Boundaries

Try setting some boundaries with your loved ones who are engaging in diet culture language by:

  • Changing the subject “Interesting. Has anyone watched that new movie that just came out?”
  • Empathize and redirect. “I know diets are usually a topic of conversation and that you don’t mean any harm, but can we talk about something else?”
  • Educate “I’m trying something new. It’s called Intuitive Eating. Instead of restricting foods, I’m giving myself unconditional permission to eat. My body is smart and knows how to balance my intake.” 
  • Be direct. “I would really appreciate it if you didn’t comment on my food. Thank you.”

Boundaries can be tough to broach, especially with folks in your life who are so consumed with diet culture. However, lead with understanding that a lot of people don’t even realize that they are doing anything wrong. It’s so ingrained in our society. This understanding can help alleviate some of the valid frustrations that you might feel. From there, begin practicing some of this boundary tools if and when it feels right. 

If all else fails, send them some resources via email and see if they are up for a conversation at a later date. 

Are you a diet culture dropout who needs more one-on-one support? I currently offer mental health counseling online and at my office in downtown Raleigh, NC. Contact me to set-up a free phone consultation

More resources:

How to Enjoy a Healthy Thanksgiving

3 Tips for Rejecting Diet Mentality this Thanksgiving