Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. Silencing Fat Talk: The Power of Positive Speaking

    Fat talk. It’s everywhere. We use it to bond, justify insecurities and openly self-loathe. It’s a conversation tool that is overly accepted in society under a thin veil of camaraderie. But it’s not friendly, and it is unhealthy. This negative self talk is poisoning and its use perpetuates a stigma that skinny=happy.

    And that equation is wrong.

    What is Fat Talk?

    You may have heard or participated in a conversation like the following:

    “I feel so fat. I shouldn’t have eaten that cookie.”

    “I’m having a fat day.”

    “You’re not fat, I’m fat! Just look at my arms/gut/butt/thighs!”

    To sum it up, fat talk is the act of shaming your body for not being the ideal weight you wish it to be. Fat talk can be verbal and internal. Heard in dressing rooms, break rooms and dinner tables everywhere, this form of self-deprecation can really leave a mark on the psyche. 

    Why is Fat Talk Harmful?

    When we fat talk, we reinforce harmful thinking about our personal worth. In other words, fat talk affects the way we really feel about ourselves. It negatively broadcasts to others, including children, on how to view our relationships to food and happiness. In this post from the New York Times blog, author KJ Dell’Atonia shares, “There’s a line between talking about healthy eating and healthy choices, and talking — often — about how those choices affect our appearance, or at least the way we feel about our appearance.”

    The truth is you won’t gain weight from eating one cookie. And, you’re not a bad person for being hungrier than usual on certain days. Fat talking reinforces ideas like this. There’s nothing wrong with being hungry or enjoying dessert. A healthy lifestyle incorporates listening to what your body needs, even when you are working towards shedding extra pounds.

    How to Stop Fat Talk

    The easiest way to stop fat talk is by refusing to participate. If a friend suggests that he or she feels too fat to have a cookie, reply with “Nonsense, you look great!” and then change the subject. The simple act of dismissing the conversation is typically enough to deter the friend from going any further. Another more direct approach is to declare fat talk off limits. If, in the above situation, a friend continuously tries to steer the conversation towards more fat talk, let them know that you don’t want to participate. Just say, “Hey there, easy on the fat talk that’s my friend you’re talking about” or anything along those lines should suffice. For more tips on how to re-direct the fat-talking conversation, check out this great blog post.

    If you find yourself thinking fat talk-like thoughts, try utilizing the following tactics:

    • Replace the word “fat” with the emotion you are really feeling. This means replacing “I feel fat” with “I feel anxious about my meeting this morning” or “I feel sad about what happened yesterday.” This may take some practice, but in the end you’ll learn how to be more mindful about where you really are emotionally and why.
    • Stop comparing yourself to other people. The skinny person next to you likely has their own set of problems. Remember skinny doesn’t equal happy, attitude does.
    • Do not fat talk in front of children, family or friends. Set the example and embrace the person you are today without negative judgment.
    • Speak nicely to yourself. If you feel insecure about your appearance, find something you like and say it out loud. For example, instead of saying “My legs are too fat”, say “My legs are sturdy and strong!”
    • Change your course of action when you feel yourself following an inner monologue of fat talk. Go for a walk, write down your goals or call a friend who will make you smile.
    • Start journaling. The act of writing a letter to yourself or a memoir of the day is a great way to keep your real thoughts and emotions in check.

    Not sure if fat talk is as invasive in your life? Try keeping track of how often it comes up in conversations or personal thoughts. The frequency may surprise you.


    Author: Maggie Henderson

    Image courtesy of kohlmann.saschaSome rights reserved

    Psychology & Weight Loss
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