Surviving the End-of-Year Dieting Craze
If you're someone who has worked hard to walk away from dieting, this time of year can really throw you for a loop. Diet culture is always all around us, but advertisers notoriously capitalize on vulnerabilities, fears and ridiculous traditions during the end of the year in particular. I've had many podcast listeners, course members and individual nutrition therapy clients reach out asking for some resources to help avoid the dieting frenzy that can ensue during the end of the year and the beginning of a new year.
I reached out to my awesome colleagues, and together we created this post. This is for YOU! Take your time with it, read the articles, listen to the podcast episodes, and hopefully this will help you remain centered and grounded in what you know is best for you. It's not an easy task to let go of dieting—and this time of year is especially difficult when dieting messages are in full force.
One important note: I completely recognize that not all families or holiday seasons are stressful for people. Many people have lovely, supportive, wonderful families and friends and for that I'm grateful! This article and these resources are intended to help those who have less-than-supportive environments, and/or people who are wanting to feel armed with knowledge and momentum going into National Dieting Month (January).
Here are some common concerns and questions I see from clients and listeners, with associated discussion and resources for surviving the end-of-year diet craze.
If your family or friends bring stress/pressures to diet
If family time is on the top of your list of difficult situations during this time of year, this is a great blog post by Joanne Levy Soolman outlining some strategies for navigating family time in a way that minimizes those moments that make you want to scream. I especially love her advice in setting boundaries with family members who insist on making comments that bring uncomfortable feelings. Check out her post if all the family time makes it difficult to stay true to your non-diet convictions.
Family conversations can be tricky. You may avoid the subjects of religion and politics, but that leaves food and bodies as a topic that so many families resort to, when it feels like it's safer than some other topics. But, we all know how much a snide remark from Aunt Bertha or a mean comment about food choices from Grandpa Smith can lead you down a spiral of shame and guilt. If you're looking for some constructive ways to steer the conversation in a different direction, read this fantastic article with Linda Bacon and Christy Harrison outlining some genius responses to family members comments about your body.
If you'd like some more armor in approaching those family/friends situations where everyone is talking about food and weight, here's a fantastic article by Judith Matz outlining some of the best ways to respond to diet talk in social settings. She really hits it home with these 8 responses!
Also, take a look at this great letter to family members during the holidays written by Elizabeth Hall. Maybe you could draft your own letter to your family or friends? You could do that exercise as a therapeutic activity, or if you're feeling really bold, you could even give the letter to you family members. Either way, family time during the holidays can bring up a lot of stuff that you've previously moved beyond and it's completely reasonable to struggle this time of year. But, there are resources to help!
If you're worried you will be tempted to go on another diet
If you're feeling like you need a reminder of why you've decided to ditch diets, or if you're feeling tempted to go on a diet this year, read Julie Duffy Dillon's Food Peace Manifesto. In this article, you'll find not only a powerful reminder of the why behind not dieting, but you'll also be led to even more resources to look through such as: research validating the intuitive eating approach, an explanation of decoding diet words, discussion about exercise/movement and more.
Last year, I wrote an article explaining why weight loss shouldn't be your resolution this year. In the article, I outline and link to some of the best research showing what diets really lead to. Spoiler alert: they lead to poorer health outcomes and more mental distress. My colleague, Crystal Karges has also written a fantastic article taking a very similar critical look at the futility of dieting that I highly recommend you check out.
One common theme of New Year's Resolutions is the word detox. Jessi Haggerty does an incredible job outlining one of the most popular "detox" or elimination diets in one of her recent podcast episodes. Listen to episode 49 of the BodyLove Project to hear a very detailed breakdown of Whole30 to help you make an informed decision about various iterations of diets and detoxes being promoted and promulgated this time of year.
So, if you're feeling vulnerable to going back to dieting in the New Year, check out these resources. Hopefully you understand that you are not alone in vacillating between dieting and giving it up for good. Look to these resources to feel supported in making the brave choice to end the dieting cycle for good and find ultimate peace with your relationship to food and your body.
If you're feeling inundated with diet messages
One suuuuper important thing you can do is take a look at your social media and unfollow anyone who is promoting diet-y things. Dieting is more covert than it used to be, so this often takes a critical eye in order to see through the masqueraded BS. On a positive note, though, you can find people and hashtags to follow that can be helpful reminders, grounding you in the non-diet message. Follow #bodykindess for a non-diet advent from Christmas through the beginning of the New Year. Follow @immaeatthat @haleygoodrichrd @rachaelhartleyrd @mindfulcounseling and @thereallife_rd @marcird @emilyfonnesbeckrd who always have incredible body-positive, intuitive eating posts. Follow Beauty Redefined for thought-provoking discussion about what beauty really is.
Another great resource for surviving diet culture during the holidays is Christy Harrison's recent post about just that. You'll read about ideas for staying sane with your journey this time of year and you'll also see a link to her recent podcast episode where she and her guest talk about keeping yourself emotionally safe this time of year.
And if you aren't already listening to great non-diet podcasts, you should be! Many of you (since you're my readers) will already be familiar with my podcast, Nutrition Matters, but there are so many others! Surround yourself with these messages through what you expose yourself to on social media as well as the media you take in on radio and television. Be picky about your time and don't let the dieting messages take up space in your precious energy and time.
If you're looking for some positive New Year's Resolutions to make
If you're the type of person who really likes to reflect and recommit to your values and goals at the beginning of the year, but you want to have some inspiration for how to do that in a non-dieting way, check out some of these awesome posts about resolutions.
Green Mountain at Fox Run wrote this awesome article about the best detox diet you've never heard of (can you catch their sarcasm in the title?...hehe).
Vania Phitidis also wrote a great article outlining how to detox from diet culture. I loved what she had to say! She also wrote another great piece on the whole "New Year, New You" rally cry of the dieting industry and so-called health gurus. Check those out for some ideas in creating resolutions that are meaningful, connect you to what matters most, and lead you in a positive direction.
Beth Rosen also wrote a great post providing great ideas for moving forward with non-diet resolutions that are positive and helpful. You'll love her insight!
If you struggle with an eating disorder
First and foremost, if you struggle with an eating disorder, regular therapy and nutrition sessions as well as visits with your physician are crucial in helping to keep you on the recovery path as well as safe. Don't neglect your appointments and visits! Here is a supportive article about setting personal expectations for this time of year and some strategies to get through it.
Phew, you did it! I sincerely wish you the very best with healing your relationship with food and your during the end-of-year diet craze and always!