New Year’s Resolution: Diet Culture is Trash

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Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.

For almost a decade, I have made the same resolution: I will lose weight. Losing weight would make me happy. When I was at my lightest weight, heaviest weight, it was still my goal. You won’t be surprised to hear that it didn’t make me any happier and it didn’t improve my self-esteem either. This year, my resolution is to stay as far as I can away from toxic diet culture. I am tired of the diet industry and its lies.

Now the New Year is here, there will undoubtedly be an ambush of articles, Instagram influencers and new products encouraging you to diet. Skinny teas, appetite suppressants, “clean” eating, various “diets” all claiming to help you lose weight that really do not help at all. You probably know these things are trash. Yet the diet industry is fuelled by magic ingredients: guilt and shame.

I encourage you to remember that diets do not work. Weight fluctuations have been linked to increased risks of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Dieters are more likely to be stressed and increased stress can trigger binge eating.

Dieting makes us preoccupied with food and it’s not healthy. What should I eat for dinner? Is that too many calories? Can I go out with friends and eat? Will I go over my sugar intake? The diet industry encourages us to have a disordered relationship with food.

The dieting industry doesn’t affect just women, but it is aimed predominantly toward us. The diet industry pushes that “fat” is bad but it’s natural to have fat. The protective layer of fat is important for the prevention of osteoporosis, for healthy teeth, hair, skin and eyes and for those of us who chose to have children and breastfeed.

Diet companies will try to make you feel guilty when they regurgitate the same advice year after year. The diet industry knows that we, as consumers, know better now, so they rebrand what they do as “healthy living” or other nonsense terms. Whatever they package and present to you as the answer, ignore it. The diet industry does not want you to lose weight, feel happy or be secure. They want you to consume their products which only works if they guilt us into it. You deserve better.

Does dieting make you happy? Does it add meaning to your life? Does it make you feel fulfilled?

Your worth is not based on your weight. Eating is not failing or a weakness, eating is essential. Eating is enjoyable. It’s okay to prioritise other things. You are not alive to lose weight.

I’m not suggesting you do not look after your health, exercise or nourish your body. Dieting and losing weight, however, are not synonymous with your health.

Resolutions for your health:

Detox: unfollow people who make you feel bad about yourself online. If you can, rid yourself of toxic people in your life. Surround yourself with diverse role models.

Intuitive Eating: Intuitive eating isn’t easy but there is lots of information online and books to guide you. The underlying principle is that your body will guide you in making choices about food that will make you feel good, without judging yourself or being influenced by diet culture.

Find exercise you love: Find something that makes you feel good about yourself. Please don’t punish yourself or your body.

Practice positive affirmations: Stop putting yourself down in the mirror. Stop putting yourself down to other people. The language we use is important, especially about ourselves. This is by no means easy, but are New Year’s resolutions ever easy?

Body neutrality: Body positivity isn’t always possible. Acknowledge what your body can do, rather than how it appears. You can exercise, travel, laugh, hug. When you treat your body with care, it can do things that bring you joy.

It is not easy to ignore the prevalence and pervasive rhetoric and bombardment of dieting. Some or none of the above resolutions may work for you, the process of loving and accepting your body is different for everyone. As a slim, able-bodied, white woman it is easier for me to accept my body when it is so overrepresented, and I know it is not as easy for others. You may have read articles, like this one, telling you diets are not the answer. This article is an acknowledgement that you deserve more than the diet industry, that you deserve more than punishing your body, and that you deserve comfort and joy.

Have a fantastic 2019!

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