tuning out January diet culture messaging
It’s mid-January and unfortunately, the new year diet culture messages haven’t dissipated.If this is your first year (or second or fourth) new year that you’re not signing up for a diet program or gym membership, it can be easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong. Especially with the barrage of advertisements for various diets this time of year, it can feel weird and maybe a little discouraging to be opting out. I wanted to give you a couple quick reminders if you’re feeling totally overwhelmed or defeated by all the diet-focused messaging this time of year.
Remember why you stopped dieting.
It might be helpful to take stock of what diets have brought you in the past. Think back over your history of dieting (whether it was a formal diet program or more generally just trying to “watch your weight”). How did you feel - mentally, physically, emotionally - during those times? Did they ever bring you the happiness, security, love that you were looking for? Did they give you the results you wanted? Did they make you feel good in your body? If you have the Intuitive Eating workbook, there’s some really helpful exercises in the first section to dig into this a little deeper (pages 18-23 to be exact). If not, doing some journaling around this might be really helpful.
It’s not you, it’s them.
Remember that the large majority of weight loss diets do not work in the long-term - meaning the majority of people gain the weight back or more. Their advertising game is strong (that’s why the industry is worth more than $60 billion), but at their core, diet companies are scam artists. They know their product doesn’t work and that ensures that people will keep coming back. If any diet program were actually successful, people would need to try it one time and then they would be “cured” and thin forever but that’s not how it works. First, because being in a larger body isn’t a disease that people need to be “cured” from (see below). Second, because intentional weight loss efforts are unsuccessful for more than 90% of people. This includes Weight Watchers, Jenny Criag, Whole30, keto, intermittent fasting, Noom, Slimming World, and literally every single other company that promises you weight loss - they are scammers.
Weight does not equal health.
A lot of the rhetoric this time of year is talking about “getting healthy” in the new year. At face value, there’s nothing wrong with that. If health is a value for you, making it a priority might make sense. But a lot of these messages aren’t really about optimizing health; they’re about losing weight. And there’s a big difference between the two despite the incessant messaging to the contrary. Most of you know I practice from a Health at Every Size perspective meaning I believe (and research supports) health isn’t dependent on body size - but rather a much broader concept influenced by behaviors, mental/emotional wellbeing, access to healthcare, education, socioeconomic status, stigma, etc. We’re doing a massive disservice to people when we boil health down to weight - because health 1) looks different to everyone and 2) is accessible to people regardless of weight.
You can feel good in your body without buying into diet culture.
There are ways to prioritize your well-being (physical, mental, emotional, all of the above) without diets or weight loss. You aren’t obligated to value health and if you do, you can do it without obsessing about weight or macros. Finding some things that make you feel good (in your body and/or brain) and trying to incorporate those can be goals independent of body size (speaking of goals - highly recommend reading this post about goals from Jessi Haggerty). Maybe this means eating consistently throughout the day (every 3-4 hours), following your meal plan, eating more fruit, going to that yoga class you love. It can be a lot of different things for a lot of different people - there’s no right or wrong here.
You can opt out. You are under no obligation to be different today than you were 3 weeks ago.
Just because it’s the new year…
Just because our culture is obsessed with talking about “health” this time of year…
Just because society makes it seem like healthy (and/or being thin) is the *most important* thing you can be…
doesn’t mean you have to change one single iota. You are enough just as you are. You aren’t a failure for opting out of diets this year - actually, I think this makes you kind of a badass. You are no less worthy, no less important, no less magic than you were in 2018 (which is to say: you are SO worthy, SO important, and contain SO much magic). Whatever you do this year, make sure it feels good to you - and unfollow/unfriend anyone who sends you messages that make you feel differently.