No time is worse for promoting diet culture than the start of a New Year. Detox teas, diet plans, gym memberships. It’s everywhere and it sucks. If you’re struggling with or recovering from an eating disorder, or even if you’re just sick of being told you need to improve yourself, January’s toxic diet culture can feel inescapable. Here’s how to cope.
Remember it’s all marketing
It’s awful, but it’s true: there’s a team sitting in a board room brainstorming ideas for all the ads you’re seeing. Now is their busiest time of year. I could rant forever about how wrong that is, but it wouldn’t change it. What we can change is the way we see it. If you know logically that all the ‘Summer body pending’ ads are just a ploy to get you to spend money on a gym membership, that makes you smarter than the people coming up with them. You know it’s not personal, and the more you tell yourself this, the more transparent marketing ploys you notice. See it for what it is and you take away it’s power.
Communicate your feelings
Okay, so you’ve got the logical advantage over the commercials. But what about your friend complaining about her new diet? If you can, explain to those around you the harmful effects of their conversations, let them know that diet talk can be triggering for you. But if you don’t feel ready to talk about it …
Change the subject, or avoid people who persistently talk about eating/ exercise in a way that feels harmful to you. This goes for social media too – unfollow those influencers trying to sell you detox tea, or just delete Instagram altogether. At the end of the day, your mental health is a priority and you’re not rude or ignorant for putting it first. Do what you need to protect your mental balanace.
Focus on positive goals
That said, it’s natural to want to make positive changes at the start of a new year – but these don’t have to be diet/ exercise related in any way. You can check out my full list of actually useful resolutions that have nothing to do with January’s toxic diet culture here.
Ask for help
Definitely my most important piece of advice – if you’re really struggling to cope, talk to someone, whether it’s a friend or a professional. You can also check out this handy list of helplines.