First appeared on Food Riot, by Kit Steinkellner
Somehow, it's become societally acceptable to talk about whatever diet you're on to anyone and everyone who will listen.
My question is "How did this annoying times a gazillion habit become socially acceptable?"
I can see the equations that go into this algorithm. In America, especially on the coasts, especially in Los Angeles, California (where I'm currently writing from), there is no greater sin than carrying extra weight. We've all been programmed to hate fat more than we hate ignorance, arrogance, selfishness, bad manners... All the things that are way worse than fat, we hate more than fat.
So when you tell me you're on a diet, or tell me how long you've been on your diet, or explain that you're cheating on your diet for this one meal but you have been very good about sticking to your diet, I get why you're doing it. Fat, not necessarily obesity, but any extra weight, is, in Western society, psychologically associated with slovenliness, laziness and failure. And if there's one thing we Western Society-ers hate more than fat, it's failure. Actually, I'm pretty sure we hate them equally. Actually, I'm pretty sure we think they're the exact same thing. So when you tell me you're on a diet, I get that what you're really telling me is "I'm not lazy, I'm not a failure, I am changing a situation I know I am judged harshly for being in."
Another reason why you're telling me all about your diet is because it has taken over your brain like an extraterrestrial parasite. It takes so much effort to think about what you're going to eat and PLAN every meal and snack you eat, making sure those are all meals and snacks that push you forward, not drag you backwards from your goal. I have spent the hour before lunch talking myself out of a hamburger, the hour before dinner talking myself out of macaroni and cheese, I get how much time and space and power this is taking up in your brain. And when something is that stressful, like terrible breakups and bad bosses, I get that you want to talk about that stressor. A lot.
Like, if you are on a diet with a friend, or part of a group that's doing this together, and you're keeping each other accountable, I get that, please, talk away at each other.
But if that's not the situation (and most of the time when people talk about their diets, that is not the situation), you just have to find away to not talk about your diet. At all. No explanations, no comments, no emphasis on the word "diet" when you order your soda, no staring too long at the french fries at the table next to you like you're a dog under the table begging for scraps. It's going to be hard. Especially the french fries part, it's really unfair that french fries aren't made out of cruciferous vegetables and fish oils. But you are just going to have to make it work, making it work is not just for Project Runway it's also for real life.
A lot of times when people talk about their diets excessively, the subtext is an apology: "I'm sorry this is what I look like. I'm sorry I'm this far away from my goal." I'm really glad you have a goal, and I'm glad you're working hard to achieve it. I am. But you don't need to apologize for not having yet reached that number on the scale or that BMI percentage. I'm not asking for an apology, most awesome people aren't. And you apologizing creates a situation where I start scrutinizing what you have to apologize for. So let's save everyone a lot of discomfort. Just don't do it. No, just close your mouth, swallow that explanation or excuse, just don't.
Read more on Food Riot