Every year, before the tinsel has even come down and decorations have been put away, we see a huge push in January towards ‘detoxing’, dieting and ‘getting back into shape’. If you struggle with an eating disorder, being bombarded with this type of messaging can feel triggering and uncomfortable. Here, we share some pointers to support you in resisting these calls to action.
- Spend time offline, away from magazines and TV The types of media we consume have a huge impact on influencing our thoughts, feelings and ultimately our behaviour. If we’re constantly reading, watching and listening to stories about post-Christmas detoxing, diets and exercise programmes, we may believe that we should be getting involved too. There is a vast world to enjoy outside of media broadcasting and if we can take a step away from its messaging, we’ll be more likely to ignore the diet frenzy.
- Steer conversations away from diet talk Even if we decide to take a step back from engaging in diet and detox ideas online and elsewhere, we’re more than likely to encounter our friends and family talking about these themes. When faced with those situations, you might want to think about steering the conversation away from uncomfortable subjects and towards other matters. Something like, “I don’t feel comfortable talking about weight loss and diets at the moment, but I’d love to know how you’re doing at work?” could be a useful segway into a conversation where you’ll be able to participate without added stress.
- Set intentions for health and wellbeing. You may very well want to set intentions for yourself for the coming year ahead. This can be a great way to map out what you want and to serve as a motivation. If we can focus on setting intentions that aren’t related to our body’s appearance, but are instead focussed towards our mental, physical and emotional health and wellbeing, we’ll be more likely to feel unaffected by diet-talk. These intentions can be food as well as non-food related. For example, prioritising sleep, self care and positive social interactions, as well as nourishing yourself well.
- Don’t be afraid to take your own path Although others around you may be taking excessive measures in the attempt to feel better in 2023, you can choose to take your own path of moderation in whatever you do. Recovery is a journey of many steps. We recommend that you concentrate on the next step ahead of you, rather than be pulled in by detox hysteria.
Things to watch out for:
- Veganuary – although there are ethical arguments related to veganism, make sure that if you are choosing to limit animal products for any amount of time, you seek to replace and substitute animal foods with other nutrient-dense foods so that you don’t compromise on your nourishment. The choice to go vegan can sometimes camouflage an eating disorder, so we recommend you to be really honest with yourself around your food choices and consider how these will affect your overall relationship with food.
- Detox teas and fat-burning coffees – these can often have a laxative effect and can harm your digestive system if taken regularly.
- Intermittent fasting, juice fasting or any type of fasting – if you have any history of disordered eating, fasting can be problematic for recovery.
- Calorie restriction plans – calorie-restrictive food plans are a maintaining factor of disordered eating.
- ‘Weight-Loss’ exercise plans – exercise is an important aspect of our health and wellbeing. However exercise programmes that are specifically directed towards weight-loss are likely to fuel eating disorder patterns of behaviours.
We wish you all the best for the year ahead. If you are struggling with some of these topics, why not join one of our peer support groups.
Our brand new series of workshops, ‘Steps Towards Freedom’ start on 2nd February for more information, click here.