It’s the New Year, which means that most of us are being bombarded with suggestions that we make resolutions to keep fit and lose weight.
The idea of keeping ourselves healthy isn’t a bad one in and of itself. However, the way it is promoted to us by the diet industry is endlessly damaging to our mental health and can even be the catalyst for eating disorders in some cases.
This is one of the most insidious things about the diet industry. The message that fat bodies are unhealthy and somehow worth less than thin bodies is pushed on us almost constantly. Yes, there are health risks attached to being overweight. However, there are also health risks attached to being underweight, and these receive nowhere near the same amount of attention and intervention.
Even healthcare providers are often reported as substituting fatphobia for a proper diagnosis for overweight patients. Often overweight patients are told to lose weight in lieu of receiving proper evidence-based diagnosis and treatment.
Resisting diet culture and the fatphobia that comes along with it can be tough. One of the most effective things that you can do is tailor your social media pages so that you are only receiving body positive content that is helpful to you, and unfollow any pages that are promoting body shaming and fatphobia.
An Emphasis on Rules
Diet culture is the promotion of specific diets that you must follow in order to achieve your goal weight. The problem is that by doing this, you are no longer listening to your body. You are essentially ignoring it when it tells you that it is hungry or forcing it to exercise when it is telling you that it needs rest.
These strict rules are similar to the food rituals, which are often followed by people suffering from Anorexia Nervosa, and can be a gateway to the strict control over the food that characterizes the disorder. These rules are also nearly impossible to stick to long term, and many people find that they regain any weight that they lose as soon as the diet is over.
A more effective method for weight loss is to work with a registered dietician and make small changes to your diet and lifestyle, which promote substituting unhealthy habits for healthy ones while still listening to your body and what it needs.
What To Do If You Are Worried Your Eating Has Become Disordered
If you are worried that you are becoming too obsessive about your eating, or if family or friends have voiced this concern to you, then you should seek help as soon as possible.
A specialist eating disorder program such as the one offered by Eden Treatment can be really effective. It takes a holistic approach and treats not only your disorder but also the reasons it developed in the first place.
Your physician can also be a great source of information and advice, provided you feel comfortable talking to them. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your usual doctor, you can ask at your healthcare practice if there is an eating disorder specialist that you could speak with. Finally, charitable organizations such as NEDA have a wealth of resources available that can help you.