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November 22, 2023

Navigating Body and Food Talk During the Holidays

by Lisa Robinson-Mihiar, RDN

The holiday season is a time for joy, connection, and celebration. It’s also a season that can be loaded with body and food talk, which can be particularly triggering for those recovering from eating disorders or striving to maintain a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

During the holidays it is important to create a safe and nurturing environment to help promote self-acceptance and not fall back into old habits. Below are some tips for creating a body positive space, as well as ideas to help you steer conversations away from diet and body talk. It is my hope that these ideas can help you fully embrace the holiday spirit.

Set the Tone

When you’re at holiday gatherings, be the change you want to see. Start conversations that focus on positive aspects like shared memories, future plans, and interests. By steering the conversation in a different direction, you can encourage others to follow suit.

Express Gratitude for Your Body

One way to promote body positivity during the holidays is by expressing gratitude for your body and its abilities. Share how your body allows you to engage in various activities and contribute to the festivities. This can inspire others to appreciate their own bodies.

Shift the Focus to Food Enjoyment

Reframe discussions about food in a positive light. Emphasize the pleasure of trying new recipes, family traditions, and the joy of sharing meals with loved ones. Share your favorite holiday dishes and encourage others to do the same.

Plan Activities that Don’t Center Around Food

Suggest or organize activities that focus on connection and enjoyment outside of eating. These could include group games, crafts, nature walks, or watching a movie. Such activities help divert the focus from food-related conversations.

Have a Support System

Identify a trusted friend or family member who understands your perspective and can help redirect conversations when they turn to diet or body talk. Having an ally can make a significant difference in maintaining a positive environment.


Remind yourself that it’s okay to set boundaries and disengage from conversations that make you uncomfortable. Practicing self-compassion and prioritizing your well-being is essential during the holiday season.

Create Safe Spaces

Consider hosting or participating in events that explicitly emphasize body positivity and safe, non-judgmental conversations. These spaces can provide a haven for those who need it during the holidays.

What to Say if Someone Brings Up Diet or Body Talk

Responding to body and diet talk with a well-thought-out comeback can help steer the conversation away from potentially harmful topics. Here are some examples of comebacks to use when faced with such conversations. Remember that your goal is to redirect the conversation in a positive and respectful manner. Choose a response that aligns with your values and makes you comfortable while promoting understanding and empathy.

Deflect and Shift the Focus, or change the subject:

  • Have you tried that new recipe I found? It’s amazing!
  • Speaking of bodies, I just started practicing yoga, and it’s been such a positive experience for me.
  • Let’s not dwell on diets and bodies. How’s work or that new book you’ve been reading?
  • I’d love to hear about your recent trip. Tell me all about it!

Express your values, or assert your boundaries:

  • I’ve found that focusing on health and well-being rather than weight has been so much more fulfilling for me.
  • I’ve learned that everyone’s body is unique and beautiful in its own way.
  • I’d prefer not to discuss diets or bodies right now. Let’s talk about something else.
  • I’m working on being kinder to myself and not engaging in negative body talk. Can we please change the subject?

Educate or share a positive experience:

I’ve been exploring Health at Every Size (HAES), and it’s been eye-opening. Have you ever heard of it?

Did you know that HAES promotes the idea that well-being is not determined by size? It’s a fascinating perspective.

I recently tried mindful eating, and it’s made me appreciate food in a whole new way. It’s been liberating.

I’ve been practicing self-love, and it’s improved my overall well-being. It’s amazing what a difference it can make.

The holidays should be a time of warmth, connection, and love, free from the anxiety and negativity that can arise from diet and body talk. By practicing the principles of body positivity you can help shape the conversations around you and create a safe, inclusive environment. Remember, you’re not alone in your efforts, and with understanding and open communication, you can enjoy the holiday season to the fullest, cherishing the moments that truly matter.

If you are interested in working with a dietitian, you can book an appointment online, or call our Nutrition Coordinators at (919) 237-1337, option 4 today.

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