'Tis the Season for Diet Talk + Holiday Weight Woes

There’s no denying it. It’s officially here. Some of us may count down the days while others brace for impact, but either way, the holidays are upon us. If you aren’t sure, just check your cup at Starbucks.

Along with ugly sweaters and Black Friday sales comes the inevitable diet talk that seems to come up whenever humans, particularly women, are 1) in groups and 2) around food. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it sounds a little something like this:

  • “Wow, you look great, have you lost weight? How did you do it?”

  • “I’m trying to be good, I’ll pass on the dessert table today”

  • “I’m eating keto/gluten-free/dairy-free/taste-free, so no stuffing/pie/eggnog/fun for me.”

  • “We better hit the gym tomorrow to burn off this meal!”

  • “I’m detoxing as soon as the holidays are over.”

I could go on and on and on.

What may seem like an innocent comment can actually be really harmful to someone in recovery, or even someone who is just trying to make peace with food and their body. These comments put food into “good” and “bad” categories and further the idea that we need to earn our food or punish ourselves for eating foods that satisfy us. Diet talk removes the joy and celebration from eating and instead replaces it with guilt and shame. Who needs that?

This pug is sad he can’t have pie. Don’t be like this pug. Enjoy the pie.

This pug is sad he can’t have pie. Don’t be like this pug. Enjoy the pie.


What can you do about diet talk when it comes up?

The way I see it, you have three options:

  1. Shove pie in the face of whoever is speaking and run away (Not recommended. Don’t waste your pie. And, well, it’s not very nice.)

  2. Engage in self-deprecating diet talk (Also not recommended. Don’t waste your time. Also not very nice.)

  3. Turn the conversation positive and explain that you’re really enjoying said cookie/pie/stuffing and that you’re really grateful for x, y, and z this year. (Boom. Done.)

Whatever your plans are this holiday season, make sure you adjust your oxygen mask before helping others.  Meaning – take care of yourself. The holidays are a challenging time for those struggling with body image, disordered eating, emotional eating, anxiety/depression, and more. It’s ok to take some alone time. It’s ok to be honest with your friends and family and explain how they can best support you. It’s ok to put the kibosh on diet talk and change the conversation.

The dreaded holiday weight gain…

As a collective society we obsess over gaining or not gaining the demonized “holiday weight.” But guess what: it’s ok to gain weight. There, I said it. When you stop to think about it, what exactly is so bad about a few extra pounds during the holiday season? The world will not stop turning. You will not develop an incurable disease because of 5 extra pounds. And no one will probably even notice.

I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me
— J.K. Rowling

What is more likely to happen is that your clothes will fit a little tighter for a month or two, then once you get back into your normal routine, your body will recalibrate. Our bodies ebb and flow according to the season, and it is totally natural to shift a few pounds up and down depending on what is going on in our lives.

You have enough to stress about over the holidays. Clear up some mental and emotional space by ditching the scale and letting go of the fear of holiday weight gain. Eat slowly, honor your hunger and fullness cues, and shake off the guilt if you over indulge. Swap that out for some good ol’ fashion gratitude for your wonderful body and all the things she does for you, flaws and all.

Kate Telge