While watching a one-hour TV show the other night, I must have seen at least 5 ads for WW (formerly Weight Watchers).
This time of year makes watching TV almost unbearable because of all the diet ads. And if that isn’t bad enough on its own, most of us will also hear about New Year’s diets and detoxes from people around us.
So here is your official permission: YOU CAN OPT OUT.
You don’t have to do whatever thing your family member or coworker is doing. It might feel tempting to jump on board, especially right after the holidays when many people struggle with food and feel extra bad about their bodies. That’s understandable. But remember… dieting doesn’t work. If it did, we wouldn’t be making the same weight-loss resolutions year after year. So even if that friend on social media posts some pretty triggering before-and-after photos come March, you can rest assured that her lost weight will probably get gained back. If it doesn’t, she’s one of the rare unicorns for whom dieting works long-term (and only 5% of people are those unicorns).
Here are some tips for dealing with all the diet culture stuff that’s completely extra right now.
- Avoid it. Mute the TV, scroll past the post (or unfollow), excuse yourself from the conversation… whatever you need to do to NOT be around all the toxic stuff.
- Speak up. You can ask your partner not to talk about their diet or their weight. You can tell them that you love and support them in whatever they feel is good for them, but that for you, this is unhealthy and you need a safe space from it.
- Challenge the fantasy. Diets are based on the fantasy that we’re all larger bodies with thin people just waiting to come out. We dream of what life will be like when we lose weight and often ignore the reality that weight loss won’t solve all our problems.
- Plug in to support and community. Read some body-positive books and or listen to some anti-diet podcasts to focus on more positive messages (you can check out my resources page for recommendations). Connect with others on social media who working on food and body freedom so you don’t feel so alone.
- Focus on ways to improve your health that aren’t focused on weight loss. This is totally optional, as you don’t have to work on your health right now if you don’t want to. But if you do, there are so many things you can do that have nothing to do with dieting. Get better sleep, nurture your relationships, manage your stress, practice gentle nutrition, etc…
It can be tough to go against the grain when everyone around us is buying into the usual “new year, new you” weight-loss rhetoric. If we’re honest, though, we know what dieting will get us (what it’s always gotten us, which is why it’s the same song and dance every year!). So keep on working to have a better relationship with food because that’s much more sustainable—and 2021 might be the year you finally make peace with food and yourself!
I’m Cherie Miller, MS, LPC-S, founder of Nourished Soul Center for Healing and @foodfreedomtherapist on Instagram. We offer therapy and nutrition counseling for chronic dieting as well eating disorders like Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, Orthorexia, ARFID, and other food issues. As anti-diet professionals, we are passionate about intuitive eating and Health at Every Size philosophies. Contact us here to schedule a therapy or nutrition appointment.