Nurturing Eating Disorders: Diet Talk, Body Hate & Rejection

Woman Dealing With a negative body image

It seems as if diet talk, negative body image, and resulting low self-worth are all around us. This is occurring at work, on social media, in the movies, and in our own heads. It is hard to escape the idea that our bodies are not enough in today’s society.

When a person is struggling with an eating disorder, part of the process is learning how to tune out this negativity, and learning how to surround oneself with the positivity of love, acceptance, and self-worth.

Practice Kindness with Attitudes and Behaviors Toward Self and Others

Learning to love our own bodies is a part of letting go of the eating disorder. It is about rejecting the urge to self-hate, promote negative body talk, and promote diets. Using negativity with diet talk, body hate, and self-rejection can impact others in harmful ways [1].

Work on not using words like “diet” and “fat talk” in your personal vocabulary. These words can be hurtful to you and others.

Making this vocabulary change can also be a way of modeling to others how to be respectful of your self, others and accepting of everyone’s natural body shape and size.

Critical statements in conversations can be triggering for individuals who may be recovering from an eating disorder. Practice being respectful with your words and behaviors when engaging with others and yourself.  It will definitely improve one’s relationship with co-workers and loved ones [2].

Redirecting conversations away from diet talk, body hate, and self-rejection statements is important.  It can be challenging, but with practice, it can become an important skill to help others and yourself feel more loved and accepted.

So, develop your skills in changing the conversation topic and reframing thoughts away from pointless negativity.  All will benefit from your efforts to lift the conversation to encouraging and positive thoughts.

Shutting Down Diet Talk

Male friends sitting a bench speaking

If you find that you are in a conversation where diet talk comes up, do not be afraid to change the topic. Other people might be surprised, but may also be relieved to talk about something different.

If people start talking about weight, change the topic. Weight can be an uncomfortable discussion, and often, any other subject would be far more enjoyable.

You could change the topics vacations, family,  etc. or you can just walk away. Rember that protecting your recovery is more important than needlessly tolerating triggering discussions.

Thinking You Hate Your Body

Some days are harder than others in eating disorder recovery and it can be challenging to see positives in your body. The eating disorder voice may start to point out negatives about your body.

Being able to reframe some of those thoughts can help you stop the detrimental cycle of disordered eating thoughts and falling into a relapse. Examples of hurtful body talk are: “your arms look fatter today” or “your stomach looks bigger than your friends because you are following your meal plan.”

You have to fight these eating disordered thoughts as they work to derail you and lead you toward self-rejection and hating your body.

The eating disorder wants to hang on as long as it can during the recovery process. Part of treatment is working in therapy to reframe negative thinking about yourself, your body, your very being.

New positive thoughts might sound like, “I am following my meal plan, and it is helping my body to heal. I am not comparing myself to anyone else, and I feel better than I have in a long time.” These thoughts are self-accepting and more compassionate and lead to greater self-care and acceptance.

Self-Rejection is Negative Self-Worth

Self-Worth is about learning who you are as a person and finding your purpose in life. For many sufferers, the eating disorder becomes a source of misguided self-worth.  Unfortunately, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder sufferers often strive to become “perfect” in order to meet the relentless demands of the eating disorder voice.

Woman sitting on a bridge struggling with bulimiaThe truth is, however, that there is no “perfect” enough. Nothing is ever enough, and many succumb to an eating disorder while engaging in excessive “self-improvement”.  Today, chose not to buy into the unhealthy and unrealistic ideal of perfectionism.

Being able to learn how to love oneself is learning how to have positive self-worth, to find one’s purpose in life. It is learning to live eating disorder free and finding beauty and meaning in life’s journey.

Healing can be accomplished with the help of an eating disorder treatment team which is a support system made up of loved ones and professionals who support recovery, and your willingness to recover.

Incubating an Eating Disorder

Recovering from an eating disorder means discounting, ignoring and replacing eating disorder thoughts. Recovery is about listening to your genuine self, finding your purpose, and connecting to your life.

ED Recovery means tuning out societies messages of the ‘thin ideal” and tuning in to what your values and internal messages are. Focus on Self-acceptance, self-love, and self-worth, as these are the basis of self-esteem and wellbeing.

With time, patience, and practice, any person can recover from an eating disorder.

Image of Libby Lyons and familyAbout the Author: Libby Lyons is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). Libby has been practicing in the field of eating disorders, addictions, depression, anxiety and other comorbid issues in various agencies. Libby has previously worked as a contractor for the United States Air Force Domestic Violence Program, Saint Louis University Student Health and Counseling, Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute Eating Disorders Program, and has been in Private Practice.

Libby currently works as a counselor at Fontbonne University and is an Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University, and is a contributing author for Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope. Libby lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family, running, and watching movies.


[1] Resource Center. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2018, from,%E2%80%9D-body-image-and-eating-disorders
[2] Tips for Shutting Down Diet and Weight Talk. (2016, November 21). Retrieved February 18, 2018, from

The opinions and views of our guest contributors, are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on April 30, 2018.
Reviewed on April 30, 2018 by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC
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