What’s the best way to NOT get sucked into contemporary diet culture. Is there a formula? Is there an answer to being happy and content in your skin? To being able to just eat what you feel like eating. Stopping when pretty full? Being okay with celebrating and eating more than usual but, still feeling fine about that because that is what humans do? To stop punishing yourself for not exercising like a gerbil on a treadmill every day? Okay, so here are some things you can try…
- Cleanse your social media. Ruthlessly. Stop following skeletal, compulsive exercisers with six-packs. Stop friend-ing folks who talk about being ‘good’ for not eating something or ‘bad’ for eating something. Do friend folks who are diet neutral. Un-friend those who talk about being on a diet or the newest word for diet: cleanse. Diets don’t work. They are torture and they make you gain more weight later. Un-friend. Start coming to terms with the fact that we all have different sized, shaped and coloured bodies. Some of us are in bigger bodies. Some of us are in smaller bodies. This is normal and it is totally OKAY!!!!! You do you. Own it.
- Don’t demonize food. Food is just food. Food is not the issue. The trillion dollar diet industry is. Eat what you want and pay attention to how you feel and what you are craving. Just last night I was craving something CRUNCHY. For once, I didn’t want my favorite: chips. Carrots worked. I crunched some carrots. I am not saying to eat carrots instead of chips. I am saying to listen to what you really want.
- Stop looking in the mirror so much. But when you do, gaze at yourself with compassion. If you work with mirrors, like in the beauty industry, just avoid LOOKING and checking yourself out. Okay, after you eat a spinach salad, or a spinach anything, check out your teeth in the mirror to ensure you don’t have a honkin’ huge piece of spinach stuck in your teeth. But other than that, it is possible to lessen mirror time. Instead, FEEL how you look. It’s wonderful to FEEL and ACCEPT yourself. The mirror can be very critical.
- Wear clothes that fit. If you clothes are too tight, replace them. Hit up a thrift shop to save money. Wear clothes that are comfortable. Get rid of anything that is uncomfortable, no matter if it is in style right now. Just get rid of it.
- Pretend you are your nine or ten year-old self and behave THAT way with regard to food and movement. Play! Nap. Run. Skip. Throw a ball. LAUGH! Dance. Last night I took my dog for a walk up the hill and around through the cemetery with my good friend Jessie and her dogs. I had my music playing as I climbed the hill to meet Jessie. Suddenly, I found myself dancing. It felt awesome. Try it.
- Conscientiously THANK your body for ALL THAT IT DOES for you. It is keeping you going and managing all your bodily functions, even while you look at it with disgust. Try looking at your body with compassion, gratitude and respect, instead.
- For Pete’s sake, smash your scale. That number on there will make you crazy and the pursuit of a certain number on the scale is a big waste of your time and energy. Let you body be the weight it wants to be. Everyone has a set point range where their body performs optimally. Trust your body to find it’s set point range. But, if you have been disordered for a long time, it could take your body a while to get there, so be patient. A couple of years even.
8. Here’s a little secret that someone like me needs to tell you. You see, I was trapped in the diet mentality for about 36 years. Ya, THIRTY-SIX YEARS!! I finally got free of it, after hitting rock bottom which you can read about here: The Body Positive 🙃 and here: BoPo Revisited and it all started here: Not-So-Sweet Sixteen 🙏. The secret is: you do not need to diet. No one does. No one. You do not need to compulsively exercise. You just need to chill. Seek non-diet counselling (make sure the counselor is up to date on this — you don’t want a counselor who puts folks on meal plans. Uh uh. No meal plan. So be sure. My first two links above mention a few you can check out.) If you are disordered or if you are in the grips of a full-on eating disorder you may need professional help. If you can’t afford counselling, find a friend who has a really great body image attitude (never talks about diet, has no problem with any foods, wears horizontal stripes..that kind of friend). No friend? Reach out to the many, many closed groups on facebook, that I mention in the above links. Write to me or comment here….I will do my well best to help you.
Your turn…what else can we do to be free of diet culture? To be free to just be? Without judgement or harassment and with love and compassion? Leave a comment if you are up to it… We GOT This!