How are you doing?

It's essentially inevitable: any conversation will involve comments about dieting, body shape and size, and food. Given our country's current hysteria over obesity, as well as the growing diet obsession, it seems that people have run out of other things to talk about.

Now that I am in recovery, I avoid all such talk as much as humanly possible. I will change the subject ("How 'bout them Yankees?"). I will avoid people who cannot seem to leave the obsession alone. Because the last thing I want to hear while eating is how many calories are in your entree and how guilty you feel and how you will have to make up for your "sin" of eating and enjoying food.

This leaves me with quite the conundrum: what the hell else do you talk about?

I don't mind discussing food and cooking with people, in the manner of talking shop with other people who enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. But I'm not going to congratulate you on your weight loss, nor commiserate with how crappy you feel after feeding yourself, nor kvetch about how horrible it is that Americans can't get off of their fat behinds and go take a walk around the block.


This is one of the most difficult parts of recovery, the navigating of the minefield of our current culture. How am I supposed to function in a world that tacitly tolerates moderate eating disordered thoughts and behaviors? People are shocked when they realize I might not feel guilty after eating something. Or that I don't weigh myself. Or eat diet foods. And even more shocked when I frankly don't care about whether or not they do those things.

Leaving me without one of the most common ways women bond with each other.

I am friends with some amazing, creative women. I find it hard to believe we can't find something better to discuss. Maybe we just need to try a little harder and leave the sheep mentality behind.

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Libby said...


I find that I will occasionally want/need to talk about aspects of recovery with the close friends who may or may not understand but who will still listen -- and that may fringe on diet-talk/fat-speak. But general day-to-day, by-the-by, how-ya-doin' OMG THE CALORIES IN THAT CHEESECAKE talk? No. Way. I try to surround myself with people who just aren't going to go there, and I'm much happier for it.

Tiptoe said...

You can be like me and talk about animals. I probably talk about dogs way too much, but it beats all the body/fat talk.

But you're right, it's amazing how this topic always seems to be the centerpiece of conversations.

marcella said...

My daughter finds an all consuming interest (in her case Harry Potter/Batman/Dr Who) quite a good way of getting to know people who don't talk about dieting all the time. OK, they are geeks, but they are generally kind geeks

KC Elaine said...

I wholeheartedly agree. It's a shame we can't seem to find anything else to talk about, and that IS one of the hardest parts of recovery - triggers abound, even among friends!

Anonymous said...

This is something I have to admit I don't get. Even back when I was stupid enough to diet, I never talked about it- I didn't want to admit to anyone that I was dieting. I think it was because of my family and upbringing- we were not brought up that way. And so, I find it very easy to avoid the topic. I never bring it up, and when someone else does I simply don't respond or change the subject. That ends it. It works. No need to be rude, just smile and bring up something else entirely. If the other person persists, do it again. Sooner or later people will realize it's not a topic you're interested in.

IrishUp said...

Boy, add me to the sick and tired of this crap list.
Good manners says that, whenever someone introduces a topic in bad manners or taste, to politely deflect. Or perhaps, politely correct, depending on the situation. So that's what I'm trying out. It's tedious, irksome, and angering, and I've even had to say (to good friends) "Can we just STFU about this now? I've got a kid with ED at home, and I can't take it anymore." Not exactly Emily Post, but it did turn the conversation ;/.

Tiffany said...

I just found your blog and I am so glad I did! Having worked in various predominantly female settings, I know the feeling. I am glad to see I am not the only one put off by talk of diets and harsh fitness regimens and calories. And I am also glad to see that it's okay to turn the conversation in a more positive--or at least neutral--direction.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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