Living in this world and trying not to be defined by what you eat or the size of your body is really hard. The diet talk is everywhere we look. Whether you’re scrolling through Instagram, glancing at magazine covers while standing at the grocery store check-out, talking to co-workers in the break room, or watching the commercials during your favorite show, you’re bound to run into disordered messages. And then when we throw an eating disorder into the mix, things get really messy. The ED turns the volume way up on the disordered thoughts and completely tunes you out from what your body is telling you.
One of the most important things I work on with IOP clients is how to turn down the external diet noise and turn up the volume on their internal cues. One of the first steps in this process is to be able to identify what diet chatter is. I would define diet chatter as any message, thought, or person that makes you feel the need to question what you are eating, feel fearful about the food you put into your body, or feel like you need to take up less space.
Here are some suggestions of actionable steps to take to turning down the diet chatter in your life:
- Take a genuine look at the messages you voluntarily surround yourself with. If you’re following a girl from high school on social media who only talks about how many miles she’s run or the new diet she’s on, it is probably time to reevaluate how following her is affecting you. Since we often have little control over the messages we encounter, it’s important to become fiercely protective of what we allow to come into our life or roll across our screens on a day-to-day basis. It might be time to get friendly with the unfollow button. This doesn’t mean that the people we choose to block or unfollow are bad people—they might be really cool. It simply means that recovery is REALLY HARD and often requires you to prioritize your mental health over pleasing everyone around you.
- Actively seek to surround yourself with positive messages that are congruent with your values and encourage a non-diet approach to food. I encourage clients to follow blogs, listen to podcasts or read books that cultivate this way of thinking. Doing this can be so helpful in reminding yourself that there really is a way to exist in the world without dieting and that you aren’t alone in this journey. Some of my personal favorites are:
- Blogs: ImmaEatThat by Kylie Mitchell and TheRealLifeRD blog by Robyn Nohling
- Books: Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield and Body Respect by Linda Bacon
- Podcasts: Food Psych by Christy Harrison and The Love, Food Podcast by Julie Duffy Dillon
Emily Wendt, RD LD