New Year, New You: Choosing Recovery over Diet Culture

As we step into a brand new year, it’s natural for many of us to reflect on our lives and consider making positive changes. The phrase “New Year, New You” often echoes in our minds. January is cemented into diet culture as the month to make changes and become a better, happier, more confident version of ourselves.

From now, we’re all going to be bombarded by diet and exercise advertisements – two industries that are worth billions and don’t care about your long-term health and happiness.

Instead of chasing unsustainable diets and quick fixes, let’s focus on something truly transformative – choosing recovery from your eating disorder and embracing a healthier relationship with food and your body.

The Problem with Diet Culture

Diet culture is pervasive, especially as the new year begins. The promise of rapid weight loss and a “perfect” body can be tempting, but it often comes at a great cost. Dieting tends to be short-term and can lead to cycles of restriction, binge-eating, guilt, and shame. It’s not a sustainable path to genuine health and well-being.

You might have heard the statistic that 97% of all restrictive diets fail, and for good reason. Restrictive diets trigger a famine survival mechanism in the brain. Your metabolism reduces and hunger increases as your brain tells you to find food. Sooner or later, your brain will take control and make you eat – this is when binges tend to start. Instead of losing weight and getting a beach-ready body, you put all the weight on that you lost and then a little bit more.

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the UK, making up 50% of all diagnoses. As many men live with BED as women.

You might have BED if you:

  • Binge regularly – eating a large amount of food in a short space of time,
  • Feel shame, guilt or disgust after bingeing,
  • You try to eat healthily the next day, only for a binge to happen again.

Of course not everyone who reads this blog, or who eats more than they’d like, has BED. Compulsive eating is just as widespread and just as damaging to self-esteem. Compulsive eating is often linked to our emotions. When we experience stress or strong emotions that we don’t know how to process, we can use food to soothe the emotions and try to feel better.

Choosing Recovery over Diets

Instead of succumbing to the pressures of diet culture, consider choosing a different path – one that prioritises recovery, self-acceptance, and long-term well-being. Here are some steps to guide you on your journey:

  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about the complexities of eating disorders, their underlying causes, and the recovery process. Knowledge is empowering and can help you make informed decisions.
  2. Talk to your GP: Your GP should be able to give you an indication of if you might have an eating disorder, although they’ll rarely diagnose you with one without talking to an eating disorder specialist first. Your GP may be able to refer you to local sources of support.
  3. Practice Self-Compassion: Replace self-criticism with self-compassion. Recovery is a journey with ups and downs, and it’s important to be kind to yourself along the way.
  4. Challenge Diet Culture: Unfollow social media accounts that promote unrealistic beauty standards and extreme diets. Surround yourself with positive influences that support your recovery journey.
  5. Build a Support System: Share your goals with trusted friends and family members who can offer emotional support and encouragement. Ask them to help you challenge diet culture and to provide you with positive feedback as you progress through your recovery.

 

The Importance of Professional Help

Recovery from an eating disorder is a complex and challenging journey, and it’s crucial to have the guidance of professionals who specialise in this area.

We help you by:

  • Conducting a thorough assessment which identifies not only the eating disorder symptoms that you’re experiencing, but also the underlying factors that are maintaining the eating disorder.
  • All of our therapists are eating disorder specialists who can help you to directly challenge the eating disorder, as well as helping you to recover from the underlying factors.
  • We have an eating disorder specialist dietitian who can create personalised meal and snack plans if this would benefit you.
  • We work directly with your GP to make sure that your physical health is looked after during recovery.

The Journey to Recovery

Recovery from an eating disorder is not a linear process, it’s filled with ups and downs. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind as you embark on this journey:

  • Healing takes time. Be patient with yourself and acknowledge the progress you make, no matter how small it may seem.
  • It’s common to experience setbacks during recovery. A relapse doesn’t mean failure; it’s an opportunity to learn and grow stronger.
  • Prioritise self-care activities that promote relaxation and stress management, such as yoga, meditation, or creative hobbies.
  • Consider joining support groups or online communities where you can connect with others who are on a similar journey. Sharing experiences can be immensely beneficial.
  • Celebrate each milestone and achievement along the way. These victories, no matter how small, are signs of progress.

A Truly New You

This year, let “New Year, New You” take on a deeper meaning. Choose recovery, self-acceptance, and a healthier relationship with food over diet culture. The journey may be challenging, but it’s a path towards lasting well-being and a happier, more authentic you.

Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out for support, connect with others who are on a similar journey, and always prioritise your mental and physical health. The new you is the real you, and it’s worth celebrating.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Recovery is possible, and you deserve to live a fulfilling life free from the grip of your disorder.