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  • Dr. Jenna Daku

Worried about Diet-chat and body-talk this Holiday Season?

" I haven't eaten all day so that I can eat this meal"

"I can't believe I've eaten so much, I'm definitely going for a run tomorrow"

"I've been so bad today, I ate so many cookies"

"You've lost weight, what have you been doing?"

Maybe these are things you find yourself saying to others. Or perhaps they're common phrases that you hear frequently when you're in social situations. Unfortunately, they're all to common - especially throughout the Holiday Season.

As a therapist, one of the most important things in my work is supporting people to build healthy boundaries. This means external boundaries - the boundaries we put in place with other people to keep ourselves safe an comfortable. But it also means learning to build internal boundaries - i.e.: monitoring the way that we speak to ourselves.

Unfortunately, speaking negatively about our bodies, how we want to lose weight, or what we're doing to achieve that, has become a normalised way of connecting with others. However, when you're struggling with negative body image it can trigger negative thoughts about your own body when you're listening to someone engage in body shaming.

Here are some examples of things you can say to other people ( external boundaries ) when you don't want to engage in a negative body-talk or diet-chat:

"That doesn't sound very fun. I've eaten regularly today and I'm still going to enjoy this meal"

"I'm sorry to hear you feel that you need to go for a run tomorrow in order to justify what you've eaten today"

"Cookies are just food, I don't think that you need to feel guilty for eating them"

"I don't know what my weight is doing, and it makes me feel uncomfortable when people comment on my body. Can we please talk about something else?"

"I'm working hard on developing a kinder relationship with food and my body. I would prefer if we could talk about something else, please"

"I'm actually trying out something new and I'm trying to not diet or change my body. But how have you been doing otherwise?"

Or you can try flat-out changing the subject!

Here are some examples for how you can change the way that you speak to yourself ( internal boundaries ) when you are having negative thoughts about food and weight:

"I don't need to compensate in order to justify eating and enjoying a meal"

"It's the Holiday Season, which happens only once a year, and I would rather focus on enjoying the company of my loved ones than stressing out about food"

"I don't need to 'burn it off' today, tomorrow, or any day"

"Today is just one day. What I consume or don't consume isn't going to have a massive impact on me for the rest of my life"

"These thoughts belong to diet-culture, and they will only serve the purpose of making me feel bad about myself. I choose to not allow them to"

"Feeling guilty about food makes me feel stressed out. I am choosing to remove that stress from my life today"

"These are just thoughts. I don't have to act on them. They aren't permanent and they will pass"

If you can find a way of cultivating internal and external boundaries with yourself and other people when it comes to diet-chat and negative body-talk, it can offer you an opportunity to connect with deeper and more meaningful topics. This can leave you coming away from social situations feeling more connected and positive. It's also an important way of practicing self-care!

Give it a try xx

p.s. This is actually a post that I've written for an anti-diet campaign that I've started with a friend who is a Dietitian, but it feels too important to wait to share it. I will be posting it again on the New Year Revolution in a week or two. You can also check out our Instagram for more Holiday Self-Care ideas xx

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