I Don’t Care About Your Diet, Susan: Navigating The ‘New Year, New Me’ Madness

What if you want to simply continue being exactly as you are?

Via Fat Mermaids

Now that most of us are well and truly back to work after the festive season, you’ve probably heard several people chastising themselves for “overindulging”, or going into detail about their New Year’s diets. Feeling guilty about enjoying yourself and pledging to become a ‘new you’ is a Christmas tradition in itself at this stage, egged on by messages from weight loss companies, gyms, and anyone with a stake in the diet game.

But what if you want to say “No thanks, you’re grand” to all of that this year and simply continue being exactly as you are? What if you don’t want to hear about Gráinne in Accounts’ scabby protein shakes? Is there a way to get through January without falling into its trap of self-loathing?

Look. We’re only human. We know the promise those scabby protein shakes hold can be very alluring, even if you were never planning on hopping on the bandwagon. But quick fixes are just that: Quick fixes. “Although people talk of lifestyle changes, I believe in life changes. You have to change not just your external behaviours, but your internal wiring,” dietician Orla Walsh tells STELLAR.

If you are trying to be a bit healthier in general (we could all do with eating a vegetable), beware of most nutritional advice given on social media. “Nutrition is a science, not an opinion,” she says. “The amount of nonsense I hear drives me up the wall! Unqualified people giving advice that should come from qualified professionals is driving myths around food.”

One of the most persistent myths is the idea of food having a moral value. “There is no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food,” says Orla. “Nutrition must always consider context.”

For instance, jellies may not be the healthiest choice, but they are for a Type 1 diabetic having a hypo [episode of low blood sugar]. Grapefruit may be a healthy choice for some people, but not for those on statins [drugs prescribed to help lower cholesterol].

So there’s no need to feel consumed by guilt for having a bit of chocolate. It’s OK! Making peace with food like this is one of the core tenets of of intuitive eating, a practice that’s being adopted by many members of the ‘anti-dieting’ movement. It encourages people to avoid restricting themselves and listen to their hunger – and while this might seem like a very simple idea, Orla says can take “practice and time” to master.

“Ultimately, learning to listen to hunger cues and fullness signals leads to a healthy body composition and weight. After all, why be cross with yourself for eating when hungry? Surely that’s a very natural and appropriate response,” she says.

The barrage of messages telling us to change ourselves and control what we eat – online, on the telly, in your office kitchen – can be overwhelming, and especially triggering for those already dealing with disordered eating. However, there is a growing backlash on social media, with body positivity campaigners and fitness gurus alike encouraging people to ditch the diets and the guilt.

“I’m tired of fighting [my body]. And I’m tired of others being miserable as they fight too,” wrote personal trainer Alice Liveing, who has over 600,000 followers on Instagram. “It’s OK to want to change, but please believe me when I say it’s exhausting when the incentive to do so isn’t right.”

It’s exhausting to hate yourself and to constantly feel as though who you are right now isn’t enough. So perhaps join me in 2019 by starting the year accepting that who you are right here, right now is enough.

Give yourself permission to stay just as you are. Eat as you normally would this month, exercise as much as you wish, follow some body posi gals (we’ve got a list of great Irish Instagrammers here) and just be good to yourself. You’ve got this.


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