Trying to be more weight-neutral in your conversations? Want to talk about something other than your body or weight? Want to have more positivity and less negativity in your life and conversations?
Whether you’re doing it for yourself or for the benefit of others (because fewer people policing what we all look like and eat like benefits everyone), keep reading for some ideas for other things to talk about besides weight, bodies, diets, or food choices.
(This is sort of the reverse of the post titled How to Respond When Someone Comments about Your Food or Body. That post is more about what to do when someone’s making comments to you or about you. This post is more for those times when you want to be more body-positive, to share the message around all foods fit, or to support a weight-neutral approach in your own life.)
What’s something good (or interesting) that’s happened in your life recently?
This is my go-to question whenever I’m looking for something to say, making small talk, or want to change the subject. It gets me thinking about the positives, and usually it also ends up being a more interesting conversation.
And if someone was to say there’s nothing good happening right now, you have a chance to be with them in that moment and listen. Or, if you realize that it’s beyond your capacity or healthy boundaries, then this gives you a chance to recognize that this person just isn’t going to choose to talk about anything positive at this time, and you can decide how you want to leave the conversation.
Generally, they’ll also ask you the question back, which gives you a chance to think about the good things in your life. Far too often we overlook the good, and this conversation topic always helps remind me to keep an eye out for those good things.
What if you don’t have anything exciting or interesting or good in your life right now?
If you don’t have anything good or exciting in your life right now, you could also use that as a conversation topic.
Ask for help if you need it, share your burden (where appropriate), or just say something like, “You know, I was thinking about it, and I’m stuck. My life is just me waking up, doing the same things, going to bed, and then repeating it all the next day. Have you ever felt that way?”
I’m forgetting who said it (if you know, let me know), but here’s a quote that sticks with me:
“If you don’t have anything interesting to talk about, go out and do more interesting things.”
You don’t have to do things just so you have something to talk about. But if you can’t find anything good or interesting about your life, maybe it’s time to think about what might be interesting to you, what could push you a little bit outside of your comfort zone, give you new experiences, or even help you notice interesting things about the life you already live.
Trust me, it’s going to be beneficial for more than just having a new conversation topic.
We’re talking about quality of life here, something to help you feel like you’re making the most of your life.
What are you learning?
Another conversation topic is something you (or the other person) are learning:
- an activity
- a new thing you’ve tried
- a new technique that you’re doing
- something you’ve read or discovered lately
Find something you like or think is interesting, and then think about it a little bit about it so it’s not just you rehearsing facts. Trivia is great for this topic too.
For example, “Hey, I heard this really cool band the other day and I found out that they’re actually from Seattle, and they all met each other by working at the same pizza place.”
From there, you can follow up with conversations on this or other bands, Seattle, pizza places, random ways to meet people, etc.
News stories can work too, just be sure to read the situation and use your discretion to make sure you’re working with appropriate conversation topics for the situation you’re in.
That said, if it’s something that really interests you and you think it’s important or interesting to talk about, you’ll find acceptable ways of putting it into conversations and finding common ground. You can even go meta with it, if you don’t want to talk about the news story itself, talking about how the news is reported, the angle of the story, etc.
What’s a memory you have about…?
Any past story or memory can also helpful because it’s based in your experience. This can be a question to the person you’re talking with or information you offer up.
For example, if somebody’s commenting about a food, “Oh this pizza is sooo bad for me,” you might say, “The best pizza I’ve ever had was at XYZ restaurant when I was traveling,” and follow up with conversation on your (or their) travels.
Or you can say, “I remember when my mom used to make pizza and we’d all get to add our favorite toppings. What was your favorite pizza topping growing up?”
You can also connect it to a past story or a history that you both share, “Remember when we were in college and we had that giant pizza party? That was crazy! It’s been so long since then, what’s your favorite college memory?”
What are your hobbies?
Any hobbies that you (or the other person) enjoy and want to share about is a potential conversation topic.
In general, if you enjoy a topic, you’re probably going to be really excited about sharing that and this fact alone will help you feel more comfortable in that conversation and will give energy and life to what you’re saying.
A lot of times, when we’re coming up with things to talk about, if it’s not something we’re really connecting with, we have low energy, and come across flat, boring, and overall not really interesting (or interested).
If you want to have an interesting conversation, pick some topics that you’re interested in.
When you just can’t talk about anything else, talk about it
Sometimes, we cannot manage the conversation away from diets and bodies, or (for example) the most interesting thing that’s happened in the other person’s life is their new diet.
If you’re not comfortable with this topic, be upfront about it (if it’s safe to do it).
Explain that you’d prefer not to talk about diets or body shape or other people (you could use some of the techniques in the Silencing the Food Police post and resource).
Being upfront isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can also be a conversation starter on its own, if you want to talk about it. For example, “I’ve been learning more about intuitive eating lately…” or “I’m trying to be more positive in the way that I talk about people…”
It works best when you connect it with a goal of yours, rather than saying something about the other person, like “Why are you are being so negative?” or “You shouldn’t talk like that.”
Yes, sometimes bad behavior needs to be called out, but use your best judgement about what will actually move the conversation forward. You can’t control what they’re doing, but you do control what you’re doing. You can ask the other person to respect you and others and not say those things, but you can’t make that choice for them.
What if I want to talk about health, food, my body, etc?
Go ahead. If you do decide to talk about food, health, your body, your physical activity, or anything like these, go for it. They’re not off-limits topics unless you want them to be.
All these can be talked about in a weight-neutral tone (or through a weight-neutral lens), and it might even help change the conversation to be more positive.
(**That said, be mindful and respectful of others’ conversational boundaries as well. Sometimes even a weight-neutral conversation on these topics isn’t appropriate. Read the room.)
Food… You could talk about the taste of the food, a memory that it brings up, the process of making the food, etc. Maybe when eating a pie, you want to talk about the perfectly flaky pie crust texture and how much you’re enjoying it because it can be really hard to get pie crust to turn out that way. Then you might ask, “Have you ever tried to make a pie?”
Movement… Or you might feel like talking about your new exercise or physical activity, with benefits other than weight loss. Maybe you love the way you feel more energized, sleep better, are happier, feel stronger, etc. Maybe you just really enjoy the activity, because it’s a hobby and just happens to be active. You can talk about how much fun it is and what you like about it, and ask them if they have any hobbies they love.
Health… If you want to talk about health, without making it necessarily about exercise or food, you might talk about how you’re working on having better posture, or learning more about stress management. You can ask for advice, or ask about something they’re focusing on for their health. If you’re feeling really direct, you can mention you’re focusing on weight-neutral health and ask them for a weight-neutral health goal of theirs.
Sometimes these are easier to talk about because they’re not as emotionally loaded as our weight or what we eat. It’s also an easier conversation topic to use as a transition if you want to change a weight-central conversation to a weight-neutral one.
You might say, “I’m glad you’re interested in your health. I am too. I’ve been working on standing up straighter, and it’s making me feel more alert and more confident.”
And now you’re one step further from that weight-related diet talk!
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Leave a comment: What are some weight-neutral conversation topics you like to use?