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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Thanks, but I Don't Want to Hear About Your Diet

POPSUGAR Fitness
Thanks, but I Don't Want to Hear About Your Diet

I will walk away from a conversation if someone starts talking about their diet. If a friend tells me she's not eating carbs, I reply, "I don't care." I don't care if you are on keto, going Paleo, or doing intermittent fasting. Unless you miraculously lost weight by eating pizza and drinking piña coladas, I don't want to hear about your diet. Ever.

This doesn't mean I'm not happy for you. I support everyone's health journey, whether it's to feel better, lose weight, or achieve another goal. I understand that when trying to lose weight, it helps to share your successes and struggles with people who are going through the same thing. That's one reason that Weight Watchers remains wildly popular. I enjoy reading POPSUGAR's before-and-after weight-loss stories, which inspire and motivate me. If one person's weight-loss story can offer a service and inspire a reader, I'm all for it. But I choose to read those stories when I want to read them.

I don't want to be forced to hear about the ins and outs of someone else's diet, and as conversationalists, I think we can all do better.

In November 2013, NPR's This American Life ran an episode called "The Seven Things You're Not Supposed to Talk About," wherein producer Sarah Koenig's mother outlined seven things (including your diet) and why you shouldn't talk about them. The recurring theme? "Nobody cares" and "it's boring." I don't know this woman, but she's some kind of a hero to me.

That's how I feel about your diet. I do not care. I'm sure some people care. If so, they will probably ask questions like, "What do you think about that diet?" or "What's it like to do a juice cleanse?" I will never ask you those questions, which means I don't want to hear the answer. (I don't want to hear about your diet on social media either, but I can choose to ignore those posts.)

I especially don't want to hear about what you can or cannot eat on your diet, which is a favorite topic of dieters. Over the past couple of years, the keto diet in particular has skyrocketed in popularity, along with intermittent fasting and the Paleo diet before that. All three diets have complicated rules about what you can and can't eat or when you can eat it. CrossFit devotees, like my colleague Jenny Sugar, will joke that the first rule of CrossFit is talking incessantly about CrossFit, and the same could be said for many diets. I'm sure that being immersed in a diet's details and rules can be time-consuming, but it doesn't need to be all-consuming.

If I want to know what I can and can't eat on the keto diet, I can google it. In social situations, I'd rather hear someone tell a story that's going to make me laugh. I'd rather hear about a movie you saw, a book you read, a place you visited, a date you went on - anything that tells me something about who you are. Anyone can go on a diet.

My aversion to diet talk begins with "it's boring," but it doesn't end there. We all come at healthy living in different ways. We all choose, at different times, to eat healthy, to indulge, to quit drinking, to drink too much, to exercise regularly, or to slack off for a little while. If you aren't in a dieting mindset, hearing someone talk about dieting is particularly annoying. Not to mention that many social situations take place over food or drinks. If I'm choosing to enjoy a piece of cake, I don't want to hear about how you are choosing not to.

Whether you intend it or not, talking endlessly about your diet can feel like shaming to people forced to listen. Maybe you want to lose five pounds, but the person you are talking to has been struggling to lose 20. Rather than motivate them, your diet talk is probably going to have the opposite effect. Even worse, you might come across as trying to sell them on the diet because you think they need it. Next time you feel the need to talk about what you can't eat on your diet, stop to consider that it could be interpreted as bragging about your willpower to someone who is having a rough time.

As humans, we have so many unique experiences to share that are so much more interesting to talk about. We are more than our diets. Let's talk about something else.