Holiday Conversation Topics That Aren’t Food, Diets, or Weight

A family sitting around a holiday meal

Navigating holiday conversations can be challenging in even the best of years. In a year of a pandemic that has dominated our lives and interactions with others, it may feel even more so.

What is there to talk about with family, friends, and acquaintances this year? How can we meaningfully engage in yet another video call, or make new conversation among our small, in-house pods?

When the goal is connection—and it often is, especially for those struggling with the isolation of an eating disorder—the topics of conversation ought to be thoughtful and appropriate.

As an eating disorder treatment organization, we often recommend what not to talk about in social settings: food, diet, body, weight, and appearance. For those struggling with eating disorders or disordered eating, these food- and body-centric comments are often highly triggering. They exacerbate eating disorder thoughts and feelings, sparking urges to restrict, binge, purge, or engage in other disordered behaviors. They serve to disconnect those struggling with food or body concerns from the present moment.

Instead of small talk about holiday food, weight changes, and/or diets planned, we hope you and your loved ones can engage this year in conversations of connection. To that end, we’ve prepared 15 conversation-starters or topic-changers to help steer your holiday dialogue in a safe, nurturing direction. Use them to initiate or redirect conversations in order to respect and protect those currently experiencing or recovering from an eating disorder.

  1. What is everyone’s favorite holiday/winter tradition?
  2. What is the best holiday gift you have ever given and/or received?
  3. Which holiday songs do people enjoy—and which make them cringe?
  4. Which holiday movie is a must-see every year?
  5. What does everyone remember about the holidays as a child?
  6. If you could instantly add anyone to this video call (or home dinner table), who would it be and why?
  7. Real or artificial tree—and white lights or colored ones?
  8. What trip would you most like to take once it’s safe to do so?
  9. What is everyone most proud of this past year?
  10. What shows, movies, music, or podcasts have kept people entertained lately?
  11. Has anyone picked up any new hobbies?
  12. Who has a funny video call moment to share?
  13. Who has a pet to show us?
  14. Any bizarre quarantine purchases to report?
  15. What is everyone most looking forward to in the year ahead?

This holiday season and always, recovery should be a top priority for those struggling with and healing from eating disorders. If you are supporting someone with an eating disorder this year, consider these suggestions in addition to these conversation topics. For more guidance on navigating the holidays in recovery, check out this post and this podcast episode.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder this holiday season—or anytime—reach out to The Emily Program, where we provide specialized treatment for all types of eating disorders. Give us a call at 1-888-364-5977 or complete our online form to get started.

Tags: , , ,

The Emily Program Logo