A reference diet aims to keep conversations low in references to people, articles, or situations — past or present, fictional or real — related to the subject of discussion, prescribed for maintaining conversations exciting and grounded.
Example of situations a reference diet tries to avoid are:
John is chatting with Ann about his Ph.D. research project. Anna brings up a scientist she recently met at an international conference who’s also working on the same subject, and vividly recommends John to check his work out. John feels deflated and starts fantasizing about his Uber ride home.
Marissa meets with Julian to have a drink upon her return from a recent trip to Madrid. She shares her excitement about the Antonio Lopez’s paintings she enjoyed seeing at the Prado Museum. Julian interrupts Marissa to refer to an NY Times article he read precisely that same morning about European Painters being overrated. Then, he describes his encounter with a Williamsburg-based Chilean-origin artist who he meets last Saturday at a local farmer’s market. Julian does not quite remember if his name was “Pedro” or “Pablo.”
Reena calls Yuki to check if she left her wallet in her car. Yuki response “No, Dear, it’s not here.” Reena’s is truly upset as all her government-issued ID documents were in that wallet. She’s on the verge of crying. Yuki tries to make Reena feel better by sharing the time where she lost hers while hiking through São Paulo; how that gave her a genuine connection with how locals lived their life; and how that prompted one of her many personal growth periods. The conversation finishes with Yuki paraphrasing an old Portuguese proverb.