Telling your colleagues you’re on a diet

by Ali on September 3, 2008

(Note: this article is in many ways a rethink and update of what I wrote in Should you tell your colleagues you’re on a diet? The advice there still applies, but I’ve realised it’s often very hard to keep quiet about your lifestyle changes!)

One of the tricky things about going on a diet is knowing what to say to other people in the office. You might be tempted to say nothing about it, afraid of what colleagues might say (or think). Or you might be full of enthusiasm for your new eating plan, and keen to share details with everyone. Either way, there’ll come a point where some observant workmate asks “Why aren’t you eating your usual McDonald’s for lunch then?” or “Why do you keep turning down the gooey chocolate cake?”

You’ll want to think about:

  • How you feel about your diet
  • Who you should tell about your diet
  • What support you can get with your diet

How do YOU feel about your diet?

If you feel reluctant to talk about your diet, have a think about why. Is it because:

  • You’re embarrassed about your weight/size and you think people’s reaction will be “A good thing too, it’s about time you lost weight!”
  • You’ve always insisted in the past that diets are silly fads for teenage girls, not grown adults – you don’t want to look like you’ve done a U-turn.
  • You don’t like to stand out and always avoid drawing attention to anything that makes you “different” from the crowd.

All of these are common justifications for avoiding saying “I’m on a diet” to your colleagues. None of them are bad or stupid reasons, but it’s worth getting them straight in your own head. There’s nothing embarrassing or wrong about eating more healthily and taking care of your body. And just because you’ve avoided taking action on your health in the past doesn’t mean you can’t do so today!

Be proud of your resolution to lose weight, and just say to colleagues, “I’m trying to eat more healthily.” (Avoiding the “diet” word might be best, especially if you’ve had a history of being a “serial dieter” who starts a different plan each Monday.)

Who should you tell about your diet?

There’s no need to send a mass email informing the entire company about your new diet, how great it is, how much weight you’re losing, and how they should all join in.

However, if you’ve been working with the same small circle of colleagues for several years, they’ll naturally be interested in what’s going on in your life. It’s a good idea to mention to them – not in a dramatic announcement, but just at the water cooler or over lunch – that you’re dieting. They’ll almost certainly be supportive.

The people you don’t want to tell about your diet are those who you just never get along with. Although I’d love to say that I’ve never had a personality clash with a colleague, there’ll always be people I just don’t get along with. If you have an “office enemy” or two, keep quite about your diet when around them. They’ll just use it as ammunition to needle you. (“Hey, Becky, aren’t you on a diet? You shouldn’t be eating that cookie.”)

What support can you get with your diet?

One of the greatest things about being open with your colleagues about your healthy living attempts is that you’ll almost certainly find some of them are keen to join in! When they see you eschew the office chocolate run in favour of homemade sandwiches, they might be prompted to follow your example.

If there are enough people interested, perhaps you could start up a dieting group in the office for mutual support? Or try getting together after work once a week for a game of basketball, badminton or football. There could even be a chance of persuading your boss to arrange corporate gym membership, so that you can all get a discount.

You might find someone willing to be your dieting buddy, which could be a huge help when you’re feeling a moment of weakness! (They’ll help distract you from that huge box of chocolates that the boss brought in.) And chances are, there’ll be some successful dieters amongst your colleagues – often people who you’d never have guessed were once overweight – and they may have some great tips to share.

(Image above by ‘S’)

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