It’s the beginning of January, so it’s natural to want to start planning ahead and thinking about what you want to accomplish over the next year. Unfortunately, this planning gets clouded with all the diet messages filling our social feeds. Which is why I’m here to remind you that diets don’t work. Don’t start your new year off with unobtainable goals set by the diet industry – instead, resolve to have a Non-Diet New Year by following the tips listed below.
As 2018 comes to a close, it’s natural to start looking ahead and thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2019.
But how many times in past years have you resolving to cut down your sugar intake, drink less alcohol, or lose that weight once and for all? Or maybe you’ve started off January doing Whole 30 or going gluten-free…only to lose steam within a month or two? Instead of blaming your lack of willpower or self-control, it’s important to realize that dieting itself is the problem. Its diets and dieting mentality that causes you to “fail”.
Which is why I want you to make 2019 the year you vow to NOT go on a diet.
Easier said than done, I know. The fact of the matter is we live in a pretty crazy diet culture. You can’t go anywhere without someone talking about their new diet or their weight or their body size. Whether it’s the person in line at the coffee shop, the tech support woman on the phone, or a reverend at church, diet culture is everywhere (and yes, all 3 of these scenarios happened to me this week).
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So as you take some time to reflect back on 2018 and make plans for 2019, I wanted to give you some suggestions of non-diet New Year’s resolutions to try instead of the typical diet/weight loss/hit the gym routine.
Non-Diet New Year’s Resolution Ideas:
1. Drop the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” from your vocabulary
. Banish any absolutes like “must,” “perfect,” “should,” “shouldn’t,” “bad” or “awful.” Replace the thoughts and phrases with rational and reasonable ones. Use words like “may,” “can” and “is OK,” as in, “I can eat whenever I’m hungry” or, “It’s OK to have dessert two nights in a row.”
2. Diversify your social media feeds.
Unfollow, unlike, block or report things/people that are making you feel badly about yourself or making you feel like you need to change your body or what you eat. Likewise, follow a diverse range of accounts that show all sorts of body shapes and sizes, different genders and abilities, different races, cultures, and more. Check out this list of some of my favorite social media accounts.
3. Make time for daily self-care.
Make time to manage stress and decompress, even for just a few minutes each day. This doesn’t have to be a massage or a manicure or a spa day. Carve out a few minutes to take care of yourself, whether that means going to bed 30 minutes early to get more sleep, doing some deep breathing a few times per day, curling up on the couch with your favorite book, or brewing yourself a pot of warming tea. When you truly care for yourself in all realms – not just the physical, but mentally, emotionally, spiritually – you’ll feel happier and more fulfilled.
4. Eat a wider variety of foods
Years of dieting may have caused your list of “safe” or “good” foods to be pretty short. Aim to work on eating a wider variety of foods, including food that you previously considered “off limits”. This blog post has more info on how to start.
5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
With social media, we now have a near-constant view into other people’s lives. It is all too easy to compare yourself to these people and wish for their “perfect” lives. But the truth is…it’s not real. That perfect breakfast photo took someone an hour to set up and take (and their kid is probably screaming in the background). Instead of comparing yourself, focus on what you have that makes you happy. Accept that everyone is different, and work on being content with yourself.
6. Practice cultivating gratitude
Can you take a few moments each day to reflect and connect with experiences as they are happening? Can you practice being grateful for all aspects of our lives that we are thankful for, however small it feels. This could be a warm cup of coffee in the morning, time to sit and chat with a friend, your favorite tv show, the sound of your children’s laughter, or a nourishing meal. You can even write this down daily in a journal; reflecting back over time to see how much there is to be grateful for.
7. Develop a toolbox full of coping mechanisms
Food can be a coping mechanism, but ideally, it’s not your only one. Work on building a toolbox full of coping mechanisms and put them into practice when you feel stressed, sad, anxious, bored, etc. Read this blog post for more ideas.
8. Focus on Joyful Movement
Work to make movement more intuitive and joyful, rather than exercising as a punishment for eating certain foods. Shift your focus on how it feels to move your body rather than calorie-burning. Pay attention to how different forms of movement (dancing, walking, jumping around) make your body feel and work to try out different types of exercise or movement, to find several that are fun and joyful to you. Be mindful of what your body feels like doing in the moment. Some days that might mean you go for a run or a bike ride, others it may mean a relaxing yoga class or short walk outside.
9. Seek out a community
It’s so important to build a ‘diet culture bubble’ as you work to heal your relationship to food, one where you can express your feelings about body image issues. Finding others who share the same thoughts as you will bring a sense of comfort and support that you may have never felt before. Check out my Ditch The Diet Facebook Group and have the freedom to discuss all things intuitive eating, self-care, body image, and more.