Endless, never-stopping, constant talk of dieting, what to eat, weight, etc. (Rant)
I work in an open office with several other women. They're all social with each other; I'd say I'm welcome but not embraced (I am salaried; they are hourly, which where I work is a HUGE status difference, even though I don't make more money.)
I've been here over 2 years, and in that time, the chatter about dieting, what to eat, where to buy food, who's gaining or losing weight, teasing each other about what they might be eating, etc. has not quit (except for 2 weeks when one of them had a death in the family... which meant the annual post-Thanksgiving weight loss challenge was postponed to after Christmas.) Their friends from other offices come over and join in. I am used to it, sort of, but good g-d, is this how it is for average women in most places? Sure, they talk about other stuff (weather, news, families, boyfriends etc.) but most of it is the endless diet/food etc. stuff.
Actually, I'm not that used to it. My own weight-obsessive days are a decade or more behind me, but I used to skirt around the edges of an eating disorder, and food was a big issue. I didn't share this with anyone as I considered it to be rude. But 20 years ago, it would have been very triggery for me. These days, I'm not especially thin or especially fat, I don't diet, my weight is stable, and riding is my major exercise.
Luckily, I'm in a corner of the office so no one looks directly at me or my desk, and I'm "weird" (nerdy) so they don't try to include me. They never have... I wonder how that works.
But it bugs me. Really, really. I don't have any real avenues of complaint, and don't want them to all hate me anyway.
I'm on board with you. Right now I'm not surrounded by it, thankfully, but there have been some work or social situations where weight and dieting is a heavily discussed topic. I, too, am recovering from an eating disorder and it still plays quite a big role in my life. Listening to people talk about how they shouldn't eat a certain food, how they need to lose weight to fit into certain clothes or for a certain season, etc, kickstarts those food and weight obsessed thoughts I have as a by-product of a lingering ED.
I don't have much advice for how to avoid those discussions. If you can, dismiss yourself quietly from wherever they've congregated to discuss this matter, or change the subject. If there's no convenient out or way to switch topics, try your hardest to ignore it. I know none of these are the best resolutions, but weight and body image is just such a heavy topic I'd be worried about having them pounce on you if you were to say something. I sympathize with the situation you're in, and I'm sorry it's a difficult one to avoid since you work with them!
Our office is about half women. The talk is ALL about diet, food, eating, exercise, losing weight, etc. One woman will actually question people "do you know how many calories are in that doughnut?!?! OMG?" Like, in the middle of a meeting she'll all of a sudden say, "OMG, I thought you were giving UP soda?!?! Why do you have a Mt. Dew?!?!?" (ETA: this is our Assistant Director. Complaining would get me nowhere.)
It's not just the women in our office, though; we have a few male dieters. They seem a little more aware, though (probably because they're all married and they know it's suicide to ask a woman if she knows how many calories are in her doughnut! LOL)
In order to think outside the box, one must first know what is in the box.
My roommate has been on a diet for about a month and yeah, it's all she talks about. She's not critical of what everyone else eats, though. I'm on one, too, but I don't really think anyone cares, so I don't say much. If I hit a major milestone, like the pants that didn't fit me before now do, I'll share, but I don't ramble daily about how many calories this has, how I came in 123 calories under my goal, how many calories vacuuming burns, etc. And I would never, ever think to make a backhanded comment about what someone else is eating!
The same 4 people are still dieting, although it's not a source of near-constant conversation. It IS sort of a killjoy when we try to do a lunch or go out, though - few restaurants offer a menu that will accomodate a handful of people's different dieting choices. Only one of the four has lost any amount of weight. Most of the rest just complain about it and then reach for the cookies.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
lies with in us. - Emerson
I think it's a reflection of mainstream culture where women are really brainwashed to believe how they look is the #1 most important thing. Even intelligent women who inside I think know better get sucked into all the talk--the messages are everywhere you look, so it's not really surprising.
I work with 90% women and getting fit, what you eat and losing weight is definitely a huge part of normal conversation. Even two of the five guys in the office are really into it. Fortunately everyone is very respectful.
I can sympathize with you. I work in a mostly male dominated field but recently I found myself on a small female team among men--I think this team was put in place to make us all more comfortable. I found the same problem as you, constant discussions about food, calories, dieting etc. This particular crowd needed and wanted to lose weight for health reasons. Not long after the day started discussions about food would start until a choice was made for lunch, followed by guilt if they overindulged or pats on the back for healthy choices. Rinse and repeat, same thing towards the end of the day, it was annoying. Plus really sad how they derailed each other. Just by bringing up the topic, even if it was about healthy foods they got each other in the mood for a snack just by talking about food.
I never had an eating disorder but I grew up in a family with an unhealthy relationship to food. Being surrounded by food talk every day was very distracting and upsetting for personal reasons. I started wearing headphones and listening to music to drown them out which is ok in my field of work. It made me seem really anti social but it got me through it.
Are there men in your office? Hang around with them instead, seriously, most men do not talk about their weight and diets all day! I can't stand that kind of talk either...yawn. There are some women in several cubes a row over from me who do that and I don't hang out with them. I'm friendly and say hello to them, but I never get involved in their silly conversations. Fortunately, I work in a pretty big place and there are a lot of men (IT), so it's relatively easy to avoid.
If you can't help but overhear them, and they are driving you nuts, can you work with headphone on? I keep a pair of noise cancelling headphones and some quiet CDs at my desk, just in case I need to tune out some stupidity or another. If anyone thinks you are being anti-social, just tell them that listening to music helps you focus and take a few minutes out here and there to be purposefully, and briefly, friendly so they don't take it personally.
I hear a different kind of "diet" talk. I don't work in an office, but my church and homeschool groups and friends are mostly health nuts! But I don't mind, it's more talking about what health benefits natural foods have. never really about losing weight. I have learned so much. Maybe you can try to change the conversations into more "health" than "dieting"
What bugs me is when people/media/internet all think that "healthy" food is all the low-fat, low-cal, sugar-free stuff. and they don't realize that those things most the time are worse for health, weight and diet. That fat, calories and sugar are usually replaces with some pretty bad stuff that is hard on your body. There are much, much better ways.
I mostly work with men, so I don't run into the diet conversation problem that often. But the newer women in my office, not so much the diet talk, but they are so ... flirty with all the men in the office. It's particularly disturbing when they behave this way with their bosses. Is this something new? Or is it just a younger women thing? (Perhaps it's something I used to do and just dropped along the way when I got tired of all the BS, I don't know). Either way, I'm finding it rather disturbing.
I could deal better with potty training, I think. As for conversations about "the other end of the process" well, my husband says young men talk about sex and old men talk about their bowels... My elderly father has become alarmingly graphic about the state of his bowels in the last few years
I do wear headphones sometimes, and just a bit of music at a low volume is enough to drown them out. I just don't like being startled when I am listening to music and someone comes up behind me... The department head's office is right behind my desk so there are always people coming and going. And I actually like listening to *her* conversations; I work for a team of high risk OBs and some of the things they talk about are fascinating.
I guess I do have a bit of sympathy, given how food and diet centric my own life used to be. It's sad that with all this talk of dieting and everything, not one of them has lost significant weight.
My profession in general, and my office in particular, is women dominated. In my office there really are only 2 types of women: those who are fit and those who are REALLY overweight. My diet is a sometimes topic of conversation because I rarely eat lunch out--I'm gluten free and very much into "you are what you eat". I am thin but not skinny. I also used to run 2-3 times a week at lunch (I'm currently injured so not exercising except to ride). The other few thin women at work also make healthy eating choices for the most part that I can tell.
The heavy women constantly complain about their weight, constantly talk about dieting, constantly are discussing the latest diet fad, etc. When lunch rolls around it's Moes, or Bojangles, etc. One girl, likely the heaviest, was talking for a week straight about how good she'd been eating, etc. and how she's lost 3 pounds. She probably has 50 to lose, but everone has to start somewhere! By Friday she had a giant snickers on the counter. When I asked what happened her answer was about it being a reward for being so "good" all week. Sigh.
Unless it's a lifestyle, nothing changes. Good eating habits are just that. Shut your f'ing trap and eat good food and move your body more! UGH!!! If I ate poorly and never exercised I'd be heavy too (and have been). It's not like it's natural for everyone!
I apologize in advance for those truly trying and have trouble losing due to serious health issues. Most of these women are healthy and half my age--the vent is squarely on them!
From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.
Given some the office conversations I have heard through the years, diets are ok.
No wonder women are so nutty about our diets and bodies. Look at the women's mags at the store, how to lose 7-15 pounds in two weeks along side pictures of the huge, yummy chocolate cake with the page number with the recipe.
"Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
Courtesy my cousin Tim