Why we're ditching diets in 2021
I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog over the last few weeks as I took some time out to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with my family. It’s been lovely to finally join in on festive activities and food, although I have definitely identified some areas where I still need to challenge my eating disorder further. Due to this, I will be continuing to document my journey here as well as sharing advice to help you no matter what stage you’re at in your recovery.
The New Year can bring the perceived pressure to feel hope, set goals, and better yourself. Diet Culture tends to hit us even harder, and with the new lockdown in England this month, these campaigns are penetrating our lives even more than usual. It can seem as though everywhere you look you are being told to work out, lose weight and eat healthier, and for those who struggle with disordered eating this can be hard to ignore. I am pretty far along in my recovery and still find myself affected by these messages, and so if they are getting to you please know it does not mean you have failed. Fatphobic ideals are drilled into the majority of us our entire lives and so we have to actively unpick them in order to truly escape. To do this though, you need to have the mental capacity to see through the lies and this requires you to fuel your body. Consequently, step 1 in finding freedom is to continue eating, resting and respecting your body to the best of your ability despite what’s going on around you. (this may be easier said than done, but bear with me because I’m going to do my best to help!)
Prior to Christmas I believed I was honouring all my hunger to the best of my ability, and yet over the holidays I have been eating more than usual, especially those foods that society deems ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’. This has left me feeling a few different things… Firstly, “Is this the amount of food my body really needs? Will I eat this much/ this way forever?” as well as “Do I need to stop eating this way in the New Year?” or “Do I need to start exercising?”. No doubt some of you have also felt this way and so I wanted to talk you through how to address these questions...
The first thing we need to do is ensure our answer is not dictated by disordered thoughts. This usually starts with opposite actions to eject the Eating Disorder DVD, so to get yourself in the right head space, challenge yourself now. Right now. Is there something you’re craving that you’re afraid to eat? Go get it, I’ll wait.
Now you’re in the recovery mindset let's start.
It is important that we are able to recognise where these questions are coming from, and as we’ve already addressed, this will likely be a combination of diet culture and your eating disorder. If, like me, you don’t want to live a life dictated by either of these factors, ask yourself why you’re giving these thoughts the time of day? Acknowledging the idea that you may need to change the way you eat or exercise because of the date suggests that you know your body better than it knows itself. This is false - We do not need to micromanage our food, our bodies know what they’re doing. It is our eating disorder that wants to know “Is this how we’ll always eat?”, because it craves that control and security. The only way we can beat it is to take that away. Yes it will feel scary, but that feeling is temporary and will only lessen with more exposure to the unknown. Through listening to the Eating Disorder voice we have been giving it power and losing our bodies trust, so in recovery we need to regain this by honouring all it’s needs. As I said, I already believed I was doing this, but if now it needs more food and rest then I must give it that - it’s not telling me to eat just for the fun of it!
Sat alone, reading this to yourself you may be thinking “yes, I can do this” and yes you can! But I want to prepare you for have to contend with those external factors and pressures again, as once you leave this bubble of safety it may start to seem trickier. Out in the real world we may see something on social media that triggers negative thoughts, or someone may say something that causes you to doubt your recovery. When in these situations I find it useful to remind myself of my values and the life I want to lead. I don’t want to be someone who feeds into diet culture or hands over my money to it. I don’t want to restrict my life for the sake of striving for this dream body that is never going to be good enough. I don’t want to just get by.
I’m not saying any of this is going to be easy, or that through doing this those ED niggles will just disappear, but that I know from experience they will begin to fade over time if you continue to commit to your recovery. Be kind to yourself this year, treat yourself with compassion, listen to your body, and if you need or are able to, take time out to focus on your recovery. Even in the midst of a pandemic there is a definite societal pressure to be productive and to achieve, but you do not have to conform to this. If you are going to set goals for 2021 let them be for you.
Happy New Year
More from me soon,
Mais // The Recovery Bean <3