New Year, New You? Avoid the pitfalls of diet culture and make healthy sustainable changes.

We’ve barely put down our knife and fork on Christmas day before an add or post is telling us we need to lose weight. The Daily Mail increase their bikini clad celebrity posts by 5000% (that’s what it feels like) and we are told it’s time to start working on our beach bodies.

What they don’t tell you is that your body will naturally correct itself, so any weight gain over Christmas week is temporary and you don’t need to do the restrictive diets, fasting or punishing exercise regimes.

It’s completely normal to want to make healthy changes in the new year, but it’s important to be mindful of how you approach these changes.

What is diet culture?

Diet culture is a set of beliefs and behaviours that often promotes weight loss as a means of improving health, attractiveness, and self-worth. It can be harmful because it can lead to unhealthy habits, such as obsessively tracking food intake and overexercising, and can also contribute to negative body image and disordered eating.

How can we make healthy, sustainable changes in 2023?

  1. Focus on self-care rather than weight loss: Instead of trying to lose weight, try to focus on taking care of yourself and your body. This might include eating nourishing foods, getting enough sleep, and exercising in a way that feels good to you.
  2. Avoid restrictive or extreme diets: Diets that require you to eliminate entire food groups or that promise quick weight loss are often not sustainable or healthy. Instead, try to make small, sustainable changes to your eating habits that you can maintain long-term.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others: It’s easy to get caught up in comparison, especially during the new year when there may be a lot of talk about resolutions and goals. Remember that everyone’s bodies are different and that there is no “one size fits all” approach to health and wellness.
  4. Avoid using language that promotes a narrow definition of beauty: Instead of using words like “good” or “bad” to describe foods, try to focus on how foods make you feel.
  5. Find activities that bring you joy and are not centred around weight loss: Focus on hobbies and activities that bring you joy, rather than those that are solely focused on losing weight.
  6. Seek support: If you’re struggling with diet culture or negative body image, consider seeking support from a therapist or counsellor.

Remember that health and wellness are about so much more than just your weight. It’s important to prioritise self-care and take care of your physical and mental well-being in a way that feels good to you.