Listen, I get it. You’re on a diet and it’s a big deal and you’re trying really hard and you’re hungry and probably kind of miserable. It might even be taking up all of your time and energy and ability to think about things.

But I’ve got a request for you:

Stop talking about your diet at work.

Religion, politics, and sex are, I think, pretty commonly regarded as topics best left for another time. (Not that this stops some people – and if you feel your coworkers are creating an environment hostile to you then you should speak to HR about your options.) I’ve love to see dieting added to the list.

Here’s the thing, okay? Dieting talk is actively harmful for some people. It is triggery as hell for a whole lot of people who have struggled with fat and body hate their whole life. Even if you don’t think anyone you know could possibly be bothered, well, other people’s trauma is a hell of a thing to bet on.

Recovering from an eating disorder, being in recovery, or otherwise trying to distance yourself from disordered eating and ways of thinking about food are all monumentally hard tasks at times. It isn’t like we live in a world where harmful behaviors are disguised as “for your own good” and “really healthy”…. OH WAIT THEY ARE.

There’s no good reason for your coworkers to know what you weigh. There’s no good reason for your coworkers to know how many calories you’ve eaten today.

I’m having trouble typing this next part because it feels mean to say it. But I’m coming right out with it. When you can only talk about your diet, it’s boring. I know it seems all-consuming to you but… *sigh* Dieting seems so performative, as though the person doing it needs an audience to bolster them through it. And yet, for the audience, there is no benefit to engaging on the subject.

So, it’s potentially harmful to others, it’s way more personal information than people need, AND it’s boring as hell.

I’m not trying to make you, as a dieter, stop dieting. That’s a personal choice and while I don’t agree with it, I’m not going to be up in your face about it. But I think it’s fair to ask you to leave that at home when you come to work. Find something new to talk about; let’s bond over something different. Work friendships are a good thing – let’s build that relationship on something positive.

This is potentially embarassing. I think that’s why a lot of people won’t speak up, you know? And maybe it makes you mad or hurt or otherwise injured that someone wouldn’t be interested in something so important to you. I understand, I really do. But your body isn’t public property, especially in an environment like work where everyone is kind of forced into proximity with people they may very well like or with whom they would never associate otherwise. It’s kind of like family that way. And so boundaries are healthy and really important if we’re all going to get along and be efficient worker bees.

Let’s talk about something else.

Love,
TR


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74 Comments

  1. Christi
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I’d love to see the family version of this post.

    My MIL just joined Weight Watchers and she’s very evangelical about it. I bit my tongue until she started saying that all of us should start it. Then I said, “No. My kids are still growing. They will not be going on any kind of a diet.”

    I wish I were able to speak up for myself as forcefully. But I’m working on it.

    • Shinobi
      Posted October 14, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      I went on weight watchers at about 7. Way to protect your kids!

      • Haley
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 5:15 am | Permalink

        Me too. I was traumatized. It seemed like a cult full of old ladies to me at the time and ffs making me weigh in was brutal.

        Me and my sister were huddled in the back, our aunt brought us and signed us up for our own good. The douche.

        • Jenny
          Posted December 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          It does feel like a cult… but recently I’ve just come to think of Weight Watchers as an very organized eating disorder… that you pay to do.

    • Dawn
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I see by the age of the posts that I am late to the party – but I’m so glad to read this “no diet talk at work” post!! I could not agree more!!

      As a woman of size, I always feel like my (usually thin) co-workers expect me to just hop on the band wagon – and when I am silent during these discussions, I get side-long glances.

      Recently, they tried to get enough people together to have a WW Meeting AT WORK… one co-worker came and asked if I was coming. I said no, I am not. Oprah and I are going to remain fat. The only good thing about that conversation was its brevity. I’m sure she walked away puzzled at my refusal to join in given that I obviously “should” go.

      But here’s the thing: I decided Long Long ago to do my best to accept myself as I am. NOT to diet, and to do my best to always look my best in terms of my dress and grooming. That’s it. I too am bored with skinny women talking about their latest diet – or their ongoing one… It appears to me that they have less acceptance for themselves and their bodies than I do. And I do NOT wish to join the party of struggle and self-hate.

      I was put on WW at age 15 by a step mother that was heavy all of her life, but not greatly so. She was on it and when she checked the charts, she came home and announced that I was 15 lbs over weight, and should join her in the diet. This was 1973 and at that time there was NO flexibility in the plan. The Fact that I was on a swimming team, working out 2X a day, lifting weights, walking or riding my bike everywhere I went was not factored in. I was tagged as “Fat” at age 15, 5’0″ and 120 lbs!! I think I managed to stave down to 112… but as soon as the strict diet stopped I bounced right back to something over 120. I believe now that had this never happened, I would not have gone down the road to obesity when the activity level also dropped after HS.

      At age 55, I have virtually no health issues despite being approx 100 lbs overweight for many years (that # is still looking back at that old WW chart goal weight of 95 lbs).

      It took me a long long time to find this level of acceptance of my Self. I’m not going to join a “club” and turn back now thank you very much! Much less at Work!!

      So for the writer of this blog and those that have posted here: Thank you for being out and proud and beautifully militant in your self love and acceptance. After reading here and other places, my new goal is to strive towards more than the “acceptance” that I have found over the years. My new goal is “self love” and speaking up!!

  2. LaLa
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Oh amen! Diet talk is so, ridiculously boring. I realized that at 14, and became a bit mean about it. (Telling very, very thin friend talking about how fat she was, “Maybe you could lose 5 lbs, but I wouldn’t worry about it,” and changing the subject.
    Now, I just don’t participate, or encourage any of that dull conversation.

    • Frankincensy
      Posted October 14, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      I’m very thankful that I have not yet had to experience an environment where diet talk was common. Considering I spent thirteen years at an all-girls private school, I feel like I dodged a bullet there.

      Even so, I knew from a frighteningly early age (five or six) that dieting was something grownups did because it was a bad thing to be fat. I figured this out despite having parents who never dieted, read books or magazines about dieting, attached moral value to food or talked about their weight (or mine). Somehow, the message got through anyway. Diet talk amongst adults is bad enough, but I’m especially uncomfortable with people who engage in it in front of children.

    • Frankincensy
      Posted October 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      I’m so sorry – that was meant to be a general reply, not specifically to your comment! I just put it in the wrong box.

  3. Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Sort of semi-related vaguely. Being more involved in this whole FA thing has really made me see diet talk when otherwise I would not have. I’ve started to notice it a lot more in the people I follow on Twitter, and the people I engage in conversation with online. I really don’t want to hear it or be put in the position to listen to it, though I consider these people my friends.

    It’s their own Twitter so I would definitely be overstepping my boundaries to tell them to stop, but do I unfollow them and end, at least what I consider, friendships over diet talk?

    • Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      This is a hard one. At least on Facebook you can “hide” them which I have when people incessantly engage in diet talk on my feed. :(

    • Frankincensy
      Posted October 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      I’ve struggled with this one with regard to LiveJournal, and it’s led to me filtering my friends page so that I don’t automatically see posts from friends who talk about weight/dieting (and don’t warn for it or put it behind a cut). Unfortunately, this has ended up distancing me from several people, because I just don’t see their updates.

      I don’t feel comfortable asking anyone to censor what they put in their own journal, but it would be great if there was a little more awareness that this stuff can be triggering.

    • Lindley
      Posted October 14, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      I’ve had good luck with Tweetdeck’s global filter. I add things in there that some of my friends talk about (see: NASCAR) and never see it again. That may work for diet talk.

  4. Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I cannot think of anything more boring than listening to people talk about what they didn’t eat in a day. For that reason alone, people should just stop doing it.

    Another thing I absolutely loathe are the people who are ALWAYS dieting, and ALWAYS telling you how many calories or points are in what you’re about to put in your mouth. I’m sorry, I’m hungry. I’m not going to put down this sandwich because OMG DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY POINTS THAT BREAD IS?

  5. Jez
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I have been eating healtier and exercising more, though I don’t call it a diet because my goal isn’t to lose weight, it’s simply to stop eating so much junk food and be stronger.

    That being said, one of the side effects of such things has been that I’ve lost a fair amount of weight. I don’t own a scale so I’m not sure how much, but I’ve gone down at least two pants sizes. I am getting so sick of people at work asking me if I’ve lost weight. It’s gotten to the point where I just grit my teeth and say that I don’t keep track.

    I understand that it’s their twisted way of giving me a compliment, I guess? But to me it’s just as personal as if someone said “Oh, have your tits have gotten smaller?” or “Oh, have you had sex recently?” My body. My business.

    • tree
      Posted October 15, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      “But to me it’s just as personal as if someone said “Oh, have your tits have gotten smaller?” or “Oh, have you had sex recently?” My body. My business.”

      YES!

    • bratting1000
      Posted October 31, 2010 at 3:08 am | Permalink

      But to me it’s just as personal as if someone said “Oh, have your tits have gotten smaller?” or “Oh, have you had sex recently?” My body. My business.

      This. This is the analogy I was looking for when someone at work (a superior, but not one I have a lot of contact with) commented on something about my appearance (not weight-related). I don’t think he was intending to be insulting or suggestive… but it was definitely intrusive, and mostly because he didn’t seem to realize that COMMENTING ON SOMEONE’S BODY IS NOT SMALL TALK. (Heh, size pun in there.)

  6. empressmitzi
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    AMEN TO THIS. I’ve spent a lifetime listening to diet talk at family gatherings (an extended clan of big people – big as in very tall and big-boned, as well a tendency to gain weight easily.) And of course, these discussions usually take place at Thanksgiving and Christmas over a huge array of food.

    I know I’m not going to win that argument so I simply don’t participate anymore. I eat what I want out of what’s presented (which is often less than everyone else because I don’t stress about food anymore.)

    Diet talk at work mostly comes from well-meaning gay male boss who is naturally tall and slim and has never lost more than 5-10 pounds at a time. He does actually mean well, but his main audience is another co-worker who is about my size but gained her weight much later in life and is totally ashamed of it. I tried some gentle health-at-any-size talk with her at first (at her prompting, I don’t push it on people), but it became pretty clear she couldn’t absorb it. If it won’t make her thin she’s not interested.

    Again, I don’t participate in the talk except to mock my boss when I get the chance (he’s got a good sense of humour) as in, “OMG, K – did you actually eat some carbs today?” which he often does anyway!) I also told the other fat co-worker once that I don’t take diet advice from people who’ve never been fat. She liked that.

    Blah blah blah – I think I’ve taken up enough space in your comment thread. Next!

    • nailvarnish
      Posted October 14, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      OMG YES! I am so using ‘never take dieting advice from someone who has never been fat’ and popping that in my mental comebacks folder (be it for others or my own pesky head when it gets stupid)

    • Layla
      Posted October 15, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Dude, for realzies, these are my thoughts exactly whenever I encounter hateful thin people who think they’re god’s absolute gift to the rest of us heathens because they’re thin AND they hike and eat granola and papaya every day and by their logic, are therefore thin BECAUSE they do those things, even though they’ve been thin all their lives. It’s irritating to be continually told how EASY it is and how people like me (or fatter) are just lazy, stupid and unmotivated and the fatter you are, the lazier stupider and more unmotivated. I want to shout at these people, “what the hell do you know about being fat? NOTHING. Shut up!”

      Grrr. Sorry for the angry rant. Thanks for the post, this is so spot on.

  7. metermouse
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    thank you for this post… really. All the women at my office are constantly talking about diets, and their workouts and how “bad” they were yesterday. Then one of my coworkers started giving me unwanted “advice” on how to eat less. She must have thought she was going to save me from my fat. I have to admit I still haven’t stould up for myself… its so hard though when I’m the ONLY person who appears to not be interested in dieting and extreme exercise. I feel like I’m letting down the cause for not speaking up, but I don’t think I have the guts to defend my fat at work. But I am slowly working on letting family and friends know that I am not part of the fat-hating hive mind. Baby steps!

    • Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      It’s best not to get all weird at work, I think.

      We had one of those “Biggest Loser” contests and my co-worker came over and asked me if I wanted to join. I said no. THREE TIMES. Because she had to ask me if “I was SURE” and she laughed. I just calmly and directly said “No, thanks.”

      I am an emotional person who speaks her mind but at work I try to reign my bitch in because, what’s the point?

      So, I am basically saying, don’t worry that you don’t say anything…work is a minefield of different personalities. I try to be the bigger person when people are asses and choose my battles wisely.

      Again, it’s hard.

      • metermouse
        Posted October 16, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        Good advice, thanks!

  8. Carole
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I agree with this very much. I have found myself feeling very uncomfortable at work over the past year as my company, a well-known, Fortune 500 in the Orlando area, constantly puts messages about weight loss, exercise, BMI readings, etc., on our employee homepage.

    I work on my relationship with body image and food on a daily basis, and I find these work place triggers to be very personal and even intimidating. Because they come from our company leaders, I really don’t know who to talk to about my discomfort so I don’t. However, I feel like because I’m not a typical ‘athlete’ or ‘thin’, I stand out more to my co-workers who also receive these messages.

    • Leah
      Posted October 14, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I know exactly what you mean. I was a CP not very long ago and got this message far too often.
      There is a lot of emphasis on aesthetics, which is really just disappointing. What does it matter how much I weigh or what I look like if I have a cheery smile and am happy to be at work?
      I’m happy with who I am now, but it was when I was a CP that someone outside my family first told me I was beautiful . He was confused when I told him it was hard to believe. Messages both on the home web page and in my area told me differently.
      I get enough grief from people when I’m not at work. Can’t there be one place (especially this one) that’s hate free?

  9. Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I worked with two dieters and one health nut several years back. The health nut wasn’t bad because he talked about other things but the other two constantly talked about WW, points, calories, what they ate, yadda, yadda, yadda. It was hard to listen to as being a non-dieting fatty because it was so boring.

    Dieting is an all-consuming never-ending activity. But just because that person is doing it doesn’t mean everyone else should be forced to indirectly be a part of it. If you are that concerned about eating one cookie or piece of cake at the office gathering, than simply don’t do it and keep quiet. I don’t need to hear about how bad it is or that you’ll put on 50 pounds if you eat it. Because I will happily munch on one cookie or two and not worry.

    • metermouse
      Posted October 16, 2010 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      yes, that’s totally how I feel too! It’s their body, they can do what they want, as can I, but they don’t need to be so supremely vocal about it!

      Look at us who are into FA and HAES, what if we were constantly pushing our views in the same totally pretentious ‘all-knowing’ way -

      “OMG I can’t BELIEVE you are counting points!”
      “Do you know that counting points leads to excessive behavior and eating disorders?”

      “you’re NOT gonna eat that? I’m just looking out for your best interests, because I personally know how much fucking food your body needs and I’m telling you it needs more, no matter what you feel, even if you’re not hungry. Ignore your sense of fullness and continue eating!”

      ok that last one was a little ragey, but seriously its like the exact opposite of what dieters tell people who they assume are too dumb (cuz teh fatz got in me brainz) to figure out for ourselves.

      Whether its true or not, spouting out “advice” to people because you just ASSUME that they agree with your way of thinking (because its the ONLY way of thinking, in your mind) is just plain ignorant and annoying, no matter what you’re pushing!

      I’d much prefer having a conversation, if I consent to it first.

  10. Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this.

    I try not to get caught up in diet-talk but everyone around me is doing Weight Watchers and I am trying to be cool with the 40 pounds I’ve gained and not let it mess with my head. I don’t know what the best way is to let people know I am sick of talking about the food they’ve eaten, how “bad” they are for eating that candy bar and “no, you are not fat”. It drives one crazy.

    Like you said Marianne, I’d much rather talk about something else for fucksake. (Ok, that last part was mine). I have creative, intelligent female friends, so WHY are we talking about this crap??! Gah.

    I pretty much try to change the subject when dieting comes up and that works well. Or I just leave the lunch table.

    I get really upset though when a good friend of mine complains that her daughter who is 11 and naturally thin is concerned about getting fat and counting calories. The other day she just told me that she asks her children if she is fat…hmmm, where *DID* her daughter get that wrong-headed thinking? So I told her that she needs to stop talking about her being fat as a negative thing in front of her kids and she said she doesn’t. Gawd.

    One more situation was that years ago I worked with a group of gals who, me included, used to have some type of eating disorder. We were constantly talking about out fat and whether our lunch was “good” and how we all despised our bodies. I think this is partially responsible for some of the weight gain because I slid back into constantly focusing on my weight and then all that stress just mad me shut down and not take care of myself.

    So now, I promised myself that I would not “diet” any longer and I would do things like exercise for ME because I actually LIKE it not because I need to do it to lose weight.

    This is so long but I was meaning to ask you how you about this very subject, so I am glad you brought it up. (It’s like you read my mind). I am assuming your workmates read your blog? Otherwise, how do you handle it when the break time conversation slides into dieting and body hate? It’s hard.

  11. Eve
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I get so cranky when people bemoan their food choices, as in, “Oh, I’m so bad, I ate a cookie, woe is me!” I just want to tell them (and have on occasion) that if you don’t want to eat it or don’t think you should eat it, then don’t eat it. If you want to eat it, eat it and enjoy it. Either way, shut up about it!

    I’m lucky to work in a good environment as far as that goes. People at my work don’t talk to me about weight loss or anything, though they do get together and exercise or juice fast with each other sometimes. I think since I’ve never shown any interest in the subject, people leave me alone about it.

  12. Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    WELL SAID!!!!!! I do hate it when some of my coworkers plunge into the diet of the week. Conversations get pretty boring pretty fast. Luckily my lunch schedule now has me at a different enough time I don’t have to listen to it while I am eating my fantastically yummy lunch while they discuss how little they are eating today.

    Not too mention no one in my particular area even diets. We do talk food a lot, but usually in the context of what yummy things we’ve cooked that week. My one co-worker is a vegetarian and I like to give him ideas for expanding his repertoire and my boss grows a lot of her own veggies and comes in with some pretty killer recipes for using them.

    I tend to change the subject those times diet talk does come up or wander away from the conversation.

  13. Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I think our culture is different than yours. Not that diet talk never happens, but the amounts of times I have heard people listing the calories in something, for example, I can count on one hand or less. I’m with you on the diet talk though, if not on the politics and religion.

  14. Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I think one of the reasons the Atkins seems to work is because those on it burn tons of calories because they never stop talking about the all the ways they don’t eat carbs.

    I like to think that I thought of this one myself, but I probably heard it somewhere along the path of life, my apologies if I do not attribute it to the proper party…

  15. Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Rock on. I used to be consumed by dieting and probably talked about it more than I should have. Though I did practice some discretion so that people wouldn’t comment on what I was eating, etc.

    I had to leave a knitting group I was in because the leader invited 2 people to join who didn’t knit, didn’t want to (but wanted to hang out) and talked about dieting all. night. long. They really changed the tone of the group and it stopped meeting because the others felt the same way I did.

    It IS boring. Don’t bring a bag of chips if you’re going to start criticizing it.

  16. Posted October 14, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant post, and I just retweeted the link. Very, very good advice! Thank you for making my job easier!

  17. Posted October 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this.

  18. Posted October 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I was having “moments”, let’s call them, earlier this week as I listened to two co-workers on the other side of the cube wall discuss their diets for what seemed to be ETERNITY, talking about what was “bad” and what was “good” and how bad/good they had been and the amount of exercise they’d done or hadn’t done and expressing such…sad bafflement that they hadn’t lost any or as much weight as they believed they should have been because they had been so. very. goddamned. GOOD.

    It’s so hard for me not to leap over the cube wall to inform them that as women in their late 50s, chances are good they’ve hit the weight loss wall and short of contracting a dread disease, they’re not going to drop one more ever-loving pound off their petite frames. I want to ask them what’s more important – feeling really good and being active and fuck worrying about if they’ve lost X pounds this week/this day, or fitting into the next size down…and I know damn well the answer’s going to be about fitting into the next size.

    Luckily, I’m able to listen to music on headphones and more and more, I’m exercising that option. Which annoys the shit out of me because I don’t always want to have headphones on. But I’d rather get tinnitus than having to listen to “I only lost a quarter of a pound this week – I’ve been SO BAD!”

  19. diane
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate your no-diet corporate memo! : )I’ve soo often wanted to say something to women who endlessly whinge on about thier diets, any woman–not necessarily co-workers either, who are within ear shot of me and engage in diet talk. I can sympathize on one aspect though–I think they have to talk as it helps to keep them busy because they can’t eat and have to wait until whatever their alloted food time is.

    I would love a no-discuss-children memo as well so I wouldn’t have to hear about the endlessly “funny” and “cute” things the children in their family have done or said, or see endless photos of their “so bright” little ones. And the biggest would be the no-extortion memo, which would put a stop to having to chip in for every bday, baby shower, graduation, and then be manipulated into buying something from the scouts, sports and school money raising catalogues that are brought into work and forced onto everyone in the office.

    So I’d love to have those added onto the excellent no-diet memo too!

  20. Returnofconky
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Right on. I have since stopped dieting and have been working hard to accept myself as I am, but at a previous workplace I often participated in pretty seriously unhealthy calorie restriction. A co-worker had asked me what my meal plan was and I had told her. I had never intended for her to “help” me in any way, I just answered her question without thinking (probably so I could eat what little I allowed myself in peace – she sat behind me and was constantly inserting herself into my business). Later she then took it upon herself to scream across the entire cube farm at me “don’t forget Returnofconky – only ‘X’ calories allowed!” while I was walking with my manager over to a table that had been laid out with food for the department. You could see the all the heads turn to look. It was absolutely mortifying. My manager actually turned to me in shock. I’m positive she was trying to humiliate me because I was offered a leadership position and she wasn’t. She was an avid dieter too, so I know it wasn’t frustration with diet talk that caused it, just plain maliciousness. She later commented to everyone that “it must be nice to be like Returnofconky because she doesn’t even have to work – she has a sugardaddy.” She has been looking at my husband’s myspace page where he’d listed his income as over 100K as a joke (he made minimum wage at the time). I set her straight, but it was one of many jabs she’d throw out daily in my direction.

    I much much more careful now – I don’t talk about what I do or don’t eat unless I have to in order to have a meal without red meat or pork. It’s still everywhere though. Now that WW is free as part of our health plan, I can no longer use the breakroom because the only topics are body hate and points.

  21. Jeremy
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. My work actually does a “Weight Watchers at Work” program, so sometimes it seems almost everyone is on a diet. And, ya know, sometimes I couldn’t care less how many points they’re up to and I just find it unbelievably boring. The rest of the time, it actively puts me into a bad mood.

    So, thank you. Because I was starting to think I was some kind of jerk for wanting them to quit talking about it. Maybe now I’ll actually get up the guts to say something.

  22. Amie
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Can I add gym talk to this. I know people who will not shut up about their workouts. I wouldn’t mind if it was just the occasional “I had such a great workout yesterday,” but when it’s “Omg I am SO SORE! I murdered myself at the gym again yesterday! But I burned so many calories!” every frigging day, I do get sick of hearing it. I’ve snapped at them a couple of times because I don’t think excersise should be about punishment and deliberately injuring yourself at the gym in order to lose weight sounds like selfharm to me and I just don’t need to hear that shit. But I actually started avoiding one person when she compared her post-workout pain to my chronic pain due to a medical condition and implied that her pain was more legitimate than mine. Ablist body-punishing bullshit? No thanks!

  23. Sue
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I recently “ignored” a friend’s facebook updates on my newsfeed thingy because many of her updates were about how much weight she lost on WW, what she was eating, etc. I thought her updates were boring and kind of triggery, but I found myself questioning whether or no I was crazy for feeling this way. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who’s noticed this sort of thing.

  24. marcelle42
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    I went to lunch today with a newish coworker, who eventually revealed herself to be quite the foodie, something we bonded over. But before she started talking about how she loves food and loves talking about food and knows how to can and all this other stuff, she started with, “It’s so bad, but….” What was unusual was that it was such a throw-away line. Like, no dieting was brought up later. She appears to be of an average weight, and didn’t say anything more on the subject. She just felt like a conversation on food needed to be preceded by a disclaimer of some kind — “I know I’m not supposed to say this, but….” It’s not diet talk, per se, but it’s such a clear reminder that there are ways in which people, especially women, are conditioned to talk about food.

    I’ve stopped responding whenever anyone says any diet-y thing. Like, not arguing with them, not encouraging, just… silence. It’s awkward, but much healthier for me, and kind of reinforced that I’m not going to respond to that kind of talk.

  25. Posted October 14, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Amen!! I get so tired of the Whining and moaning about dieting and what you can’t have. If you’re that miserable then stop!! Enough already!!

  26. Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    I still remember when a co-worker came back from a three week holiday in Sweden. Sweden! That’s got to be exciting. I’ve never been to Europe, and Sweden is totally not one of the standard Top Three destinations, and I hardly knew a thing about it. So I was excited to hear about it. “Hey, how was your trip to Sweden?” I asked.

    “Oh, great!” they responded, and then told me that they managed to stay on their diet the whole time. They then told me all the diet food they ate for the whole trip, and talked for I swear to $whoever fifteen minutes about the “zero-point” soup they found that they ate for at least 75% of their meals.

    And that’s it. That was the entire recap of their trip to Sweden. SWEDEN for THREE WEEKS. (I live in Canada, for distance reference.) All they had to say: They managed to exist in another country for three weeks without breaking their diet, which made them happy.

    And I mean, it’s not that I’m not happy they were happy, but… I dunno. I guess it’s a facet of that, “It’s boring,” angle. And I didn’t say that because it did feel mean to not be happy for their happiness, but I couldn’t help but think, “If the coolest thing about visiting Sweden was finding ‘zero-point’ soup and eating that for almost all your meals, I feel like something about life is passing you by.” And that thought feels (and is) really unsupportive, but at the same time.. just GAH.

    • Kelly
      Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      That sort of person should be slapped, repeatedly. I would not go on vacation and diet. That is ridiculous.

  27. Megan
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Any ideas for dealing with diet talk from customers? I work in a coffee shop, and there are a few regular customers that have been kind of inappropriate. One woman spent 5 minutes explaining to me how her diet works and how she spreads one skim latte over 3 cups of ice to make it last longer, and other always asks for me to make her drinks because “I understand.” (Which I think means that I, as a fellow fat chick, know how to make secretly make your mochas calorie-free or something.) Awkward.

    • Posted October 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Megan, I’m sorry but what the hell? If I walked into a restaraunt, cafe, any any kind of place where I would expect customer service, and the employee asked me to stop talking about dieting, I would tell them…well you know where I would tell them to go. Is talking about dieting like smoking now? I’m definitely not on a diet and I don’t believe in fad diets, but I am not about to try to deny anyone, and I mean anyone, their right to talk about wherever they damn well please.

    • Other Becky
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, that’s kind of over-sharing. Ashley, Megan wasn’t talking about “do not talk about dieting in this coffeehouse,” but rather “do not waste five minutes of my life telling me about the way your diet works, O Random Stranger.”

      Megan, it won’t help with this particular woman, but in the future, if someone is talking your ear off about their diet, you could either apologize and say you really need to help the next customer (if there is one), or apologize and say you really need to restock the sugar/napkins/whatever. This also helps call their attention to the fact that, while this may be leisure time for them, you’re at work.

      • Posted October 19, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        I see your point, and I agree with your way to handling it.

  28. Posted October 15, 2010 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    I had dinner tonight with friends who are on Weight Watchers and they were yammering back and forth about what one of them could eat since she hadn’t eaten any this OTHER thing. One friend actually told the other to just eat more broccoli instead of their pasta side dish. (Wow — I really needed to pay attention to this!) I’ve been on WW with these friends before and now that I’m not, it’s weird to be outside looking in. The program, as it is with most diets, seems so strict and icky when I hear my friends talk about what they can eat and can’t. Not too long ago, a different friend on a different diet (hmm… theme emerging) lamented to her wife, “I can’t eat anything tomorrow because of last night’s dinner.” SERIOUSLY?!?

  29. Posted October 15, 2010 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    I. Fucking. Love. You.

  30. Posted October 15, 2010 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    You know, it’s funny. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life seen anyone who changed their diet for moral reasons (e.g. went kosher or vegan) say anything like, “I really want lobster, I’m so tempted, but I’m trying to be good.” I also don’t ever recall knowing people who had to make dietary adjustments because of food intolerances (e.g. gluten or dairy) ever saying anything like, “I was so bad last night, I had a glass of milk and some crackers!”

    Only weight-loss dieting seems to carry this degree of judgment around when it comes to food; the kosher-keepers and vegans and lactose intolerant and celiac patients get to eat something else, so it’s not a matter of having to prove yourself virtuous by bypassing all food. Hunger. It warps people’s thinking.

    • Ellen Brand
      Posted October 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Heh. Well, I’ve been using the term “being good” to refer to NOT giving in to my caffiene addiction. (I’m currently going cold turkey due to acid reflux.) But there’s an undertone of “being smart” there, because I KNOW that that bottle of coke is going to leave me in pain later. And I can have it once my stomach calms down. I dunno.

      • silentbeep
        Posted October 15, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        But are you judging yourself morally though? Or could the “good” thing mean something like “i’m happy I’m making a decision that won’t cause me physical discomfort and/or pain”? Just curious.

    • kalstolyn
      Posted October 19, 2010 at 4:50 am | Permalink

      I have to say, I have a friend who is a celiac who is constantly saying how bad she is for having this or that food containing wheat, and how much she is going to pay for it, but how she just couldn’t resist because pizza is so delicious, dammit. I also have friends with milk allergies/lactose issues/dairy-triggered IBS who moan and whine over the moral value of certain cheeses and dessert products. And my stick-thin sister-in-law treats eating bananas and tomatoes (both of which she is allergic to) as some kind of guilty pleasure.

    • lucy
      Posted October 22, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Meowser,

      I have lactose issues and, even though I hold my tongue when it comes to the moralizing of foods most of the time, I do say I’ve been bad when I drink milk and then inevitably feel sick afterwards.

  31. Lizalou
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Damn, I loved this post. Thank you so much. I’d been trying to put my finger on what made my eyes roll whenever I hear “diet talk”. It’s boring… that’s what it is. Almost akin to talking about the weather, it’s a fallback, it’s LAZY conversation. Try harder to find a topic of interest.

  32. Paintmonkey
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Oh hell yes. I’ve always been hideously diplomatic, and nodded through all kinds of conversational diet waffle, but of late I’ve changed. I’ve got so sick of hearing people droaning on about diets that I’ve taken to turning into a five year old and covering my ears shouting “La La La! I cant hear you!” till it stops. It IS immature of me, but by god it gets the message across. To me, yakking on about diets and calories is very rude, possibly triggering and straight away hijacks all other women present and makes them have to play ball or be the odd one out. I now always shut it down if I hear it.
    I had a meal last week with a group of people and couldnt be bothered to eat much – no reason, just couldnt be arsed to wade through it. It was met with “OOh arent you GOOD! Arent you being GOOD! I wish I was so GOOD” That really pissed me off. I also had to stop myself ramming my fork into my eye when someone said “I havent eaten anthying since yesterday, so I’m allowed what I want tonight.”
    AAAAAARRRGGGNNNNGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    • jmdr
      Posted October 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      “and straight away hijacks all other women present and makes them have to play ball or be the odd one out”

      THANK YOU. I went to the wedding of a really close friend last weekend, and was seated with the maid of honor (who I hadn’t met), some good friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and some people who went to school with us, but who we didn’t meet there. That is a great recipe for good conversation, right? Lots of people with lots of things in common?

      But no: the maid of honor and one of the didn’t-know-well ladies started talking about their diets: how “bad” they were being by eating what their best friends served them *at their wedding*, how they really were virtuous after all because they were just “going with the flow”, what plans they were on, what the rules were, etc.

      I wanted to stab them with a fork, but I didn’t want to splash blood on my roasted-corn-chile-relleno casserole. (Which, btw, was delicious.)

      I held my piece politely for a couple of minutes, then when it became clear they weren’t slowing down, I turned 90 degrees and struck up a conversation with the husband of one of the offenders. He seemed very relieved too.

    • Posted October 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      I finally just started whipping out my iPhone and playing games or otherwise fucking around online while they talked about The Biggest Loser or their diets. Finally (after weeks) someone said, “No phones at lunch!” and I said, “I’m bored. I’ll stop using my phone when you stop talking about your diets.” They didn’t stop…and neither did I. Except I stopped going out to lunch with them as often because there’s no good reason for me to be that pissed off on a regular basis.

  33. Posted October 15, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Im a stay at home mama , so I dont get this in the work place , but every time Im around any damn body , its seems that everyone is on a diet all the time and I dont want to hear about it . I want to tell them all the reasons that dieting is bad for them and they should just TRY to love themselves as they are and when I do open my mouth , everyone makes ME out to be the bad guy . Like my way of thinking is totally off the wall . ”but I feel better when I weigh less” No , you feel better when you get your ass off the couch and DO SOMETHING . ”But Ill be healther at a lower weight , being like THIS , just isnt good for me” There are SOOO many reasons why that ones way off kilter . Ugh , not to mention that YOU thinking being FAT is such a horrible thing , to me who IS FAT , is kind of offinsive ! My family is the worse , they are all fat , I mean come on , its in those gens and there all always on a diet and they lose weight and gain it RIGHT back . All the while Im thinking to myself ”told ya so” . lol . Yes , I think diet talk should be left to you talking to yourself in the mirror if you must talk about this ridiculous eatting disorder you are trying to ”catch” .

  34. CoryBettyq
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I have this problem at work, and given that I’m a temp worker, it’s very dangerous for me to speak up, because I my position is so precarious by its’ nature. But I have something to add – the women who do all the diet-talking are all significantly thinner than me. I mean, they’re all of average size and I’m on the fat side of the bell curve. So every time I have to listen to them I wonder, “What do they think of me? Am I BAD, just by virtue of my fatness, in their eyes? If food and fat are the enemies, what am I?” I try not to personalize it and most of the time, that works just fine. I don’t even hear it. But there is judgement implicit in their commentary and they seem either oblivious to that or they just don’t care. Perhaps they think I’ll overhear them and “get it”? Whatever. It is dead boring. And I already accept myself. I find myself with a deep wish that they would too.

    • rotha
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 4:22 am | Permalink

      I had that problem at my last temp gig. My usual lunch is hummus and chopped veggies (because it’s cheap and easy), and at freaking lunch every permanently employed woman who saw me eating it would have to lecture – either I was “good” for “dieting so well” (no, I just like hummus!) or they were vaguely resentful that I was flagrantly eating healthily in front of them when they “have kids and work responsibilities and just don’t have time to make themselves a good lunch.” If I brought in leftovers instead, they felt entitled to tsk me for being “bad.”

      They didn’t ever respond to polite negations of the topic, so I ended up sneaking into the men’s breakroom every weekday to eat lunch in peace.

  35. Posted October 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Oh, man, I so agree! I think you make a great point that certain topics are generally off the list of “what to talk about at work” so why isn’t dieting?

    It sort of reminded me of my post about getting a new hobby. I think that for a lot of people, dieting serves this hobby function of being something to focus on and talk about. (http://www.bodylovewellness.com/2010/09/20/its-time-for-a-new-hobby/)

    Anyway, great post!

    • jmdr
      Posted October 15, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      So true. The summer I was on The Diet That Shall Not Be Named, I barely did anything that wasn’t related to weight loss. I even let my dance practice schedule slip because it wasn’t as good a workout as some of my DVDs.

  36. Posted October 15, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    This happens constantly at my work. All the ladies are on NutraSystem. Can’t stand the fat talk!

    Thanks for bringing this up.

    • ffoc
      Posted October 15, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      You know, that is really rich, because industrial, processed foods are really horrible for our bodies regardless of how we relate to our size, and they are probably terrible for the economy, as well. NutraSystem may be the worst of the worst, so I feel kind of sorry for these ladies. It’s a completely unsustainable way to eat, for one thing, and if the food tastes as vile and disgusting as it looks… well, paybacks are hell.

  37. diane
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    You know what bothers me the most is the bully mentality of it all. They get to say whatever they want and if someone dares to speak up they’re made to feel the outcast or villified/shamed in some way. It happens in every area of our Society and it sucks! It happens if you mention someone’s sizeist, sexist, biggoted, or any othering remark made, and suddenly there is silence and everyone looks with annoyance at the person who had the courage to speak out because now their fun is ruined. And you can guess the responses… too sensitive, pc, just a joke, etc. Infuriating!

    I will admit though that I’ve made the mistake, although I probably could have found another way to shut them up–but again, why do they get the freedom to say what they will and I have to be “polite” and consider their feelings? Well… anyway, more than once I just couldn’t take the diet-talk anymore and finally joined in. I said I knew the best way to lose weight where you didn’t go on and on about it but just did it and it works fabulously and effortless in regards to weight loss. Then I tell them all to take heroine like Boy George or inject mercury into their system like Jackie Gleason and Dinah Washington did for weight loss. The plus side is it works and you don’t have to talk about dieting because there are other things about it that will keep ya really busy! Needless to say it didn’t go over too well but each time it did end the conversation, which is what I wanted.

    Sometimes I’ll just interject and say “you’re an adult, if you want it have it — I don’t get this whole “I’m acting like a bad child” thing.” That never goes over well either. I’ve not found the perfect saying to shut them up and sound polite at the same time though but I’ll keep trying.

  38. Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    There was a time that I would nervously pretend that I agreed with my peers just to fit in. Or kept secrets about benign likes and dislikes to avoid being made fun of. This letter could have been addressed to me just two short years ago.

    • Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Umm so I was trying to post a trackback but something messed up and now this excerpt from my blog looks like I’m tsking this post. I’m not. I love it.

  39. thirtiesgirl
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I SO want to print this out and give it to two co-workers who always seem to have lunch at the same time I do and can talk about nothing but the food they’re eating and almost always the caloric content, sodium, carbs, cholesterol, etc, etc.

    Here’s the thing: they’re not really dieting to lose weight. They’re both generally happy with their weight. They just like to eat healthy foods to maintain their weight.

    One is a former fat girl who has lupus and lost a bunch of weight because it helps her joints and muscles feel better when she doesn’t weigh as much. She’s a vegetarian who will eat the occasional piece of chicken or fish. The other is an older woman who is very outdoorsy, loves to hike, camp, etc, and has eaten healthfully all her life. She eats no red meat, very little chicken or fish, and a lot of fruits and veggies.

    I try to get to the staff cafeteria before they do so I can eat my lunch before they get there and leave before they set up shop and start talking about food. But on busy work days, I sometimes can’t get there before they do and we end up eating together. That happened today and I sat at another table away from them. But, aside from their constant food discussions at lunch, I do like both women and would like to have conversations about other things with them.

    I have periodically interrupted their conversations about food with little snippets of fat acceptance info. For example, when they’ve gone off on their tangents about “good” and “bad” food, I’ve told them that food is neither good nor bad. …Which neither one were willing to accept. I’ve also tried to explain that fat is not a bad word to some of us. …Which again, neither one was really willing to accept. The older woman was a little more willing to listen, but my co-worker with lupus is highly judgmental and refused to understand that sitting in front of her was a fat person (me), telling her that some fat people are fine using the word fat to describe ourselves. Rather than accept my experience as a fat person, she typically chose to deny it by maintaining the standard trope that “fat is a rude word, so I don’t use it.”

    …So I continue to try and avoid them in the cafeteria. And when I can’t, I really have no idea what to say to them. I don’t want to listen to their healthy food talk because, as you’ve written, it would bore the paint off the walls. But I can’t think of any tactful way of telling them that it might be more interesting to discuss other things. …Not to mention, there are two of them and one of me.

  40. Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Yes and yes!

    Particularly: It is triggery as hell for a whole lot of people who have struggled with fat and body hate their whole life.

    When I was thin, I started getting all these messages from my family and my friends, that I was going to be fat. When I was less thin, I was obsessed with my weight and starved myself to be acceptable. I couldn’t stand it when my co-workers, all of whom were thinner and fitter than I was, talked about how ‘fat’ they were and how they ‘needed’ to lose weight. When I actually got to be FAT it took me several years before I realized I had grown into my self-concept. I had BECOME as fat as I had always thought I already was.

    I didn’t get to read it all, but your other post on FAT made me giggle. When I tell my girls that I am FAT and that I used to be even FATTER they jump to tell me that I’m not. But I am, and I’m finally okay with it. Most of the time. I’m not as fat as I used to be, but I don’t hate myself for it either — for how fat I was or how fat I am now.

    Love your blog!

  41. Kelly
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I have someone who doesn’t really work with me but who comes around and talks about nothing but food and going to the gym. It drives me nuts.

    Unfortunately, at least for me, dieting makes you want to talk about nothing else because diet and food is all you think about. This a huge reason why I HATE dieting. I like thinking about fantasy novels and computers and sometimes even my classwork.

  42. Courtney
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Thank you! I get so tired of the skinny bitches at work complaining about how “fat” they’re getting, or how they need to lose 5 pounds. I wonder if those comments are a thinly-veiled dig at me or if they’re just that clueless to how hurtful those comments are. I totally agree that diets are very personal – if I were on a diet, only my close family would know. I have a really good friend who is CONSTANTLY on a diet. I wish she would realize that she’s perfect at any weight and give up already. Then we could talk about something other than the latest dieting fad.

  43. Erica
    Posted December 15, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Yes – this is outstanding. I have been on a diet for some months for medical reasons, but damn who wants to talk about it? It’s boring. And it’s not really anyone’s business except mine. I don’t know why people feel the need to obsess over this kind of thing.

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marianne Kirby, Awl and Kristin Anne Carideo, Bethany. Bethany said: RT @TheRotund: Dear Dieters; A Letter to People at Work: http://www.therotund.com/?p=999 [...]

  2. By The Rotund’s Open Letter « Fatties United! on October 14, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    [...] Here’s a great open letter from The Rotund to her dieting coworkers. Spoiler Alert: She wants them to stop talking about dieting.  As always, enjoy! [...]

  3. [...] of the impetus for my friend’s writing was a post from The Rotund that I had Tweeted, about how to be a sensitive dieter at work. I think we’re [...]

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