The New Year is a time of looking forward and setting new intentions. Unfortunately, it is also a time full of diet and exercise ads. It is hard to turn on the TV or look at social media right now without being bombarded by the latest diet, exercise equipment, or meal plan presented as the answer to all our problems. These ads love to point out our “need” to lose weight and promise that their product is quick and painless. You may have friends or family members who are currently participating in one of these diets or exercise regimes. How can someone in eating disorder recovery navigate diet heavy time of year?
Five Tips to Navigate the Diet Crazy New Year:
- Set Boundaries. Let those close to you know that while they might be choosing to participate in a new diet or and exercise regime, that it is not for you. Kindly ask that they not share the details of their diet rules or exercise program with you.
- Disengage. When possible mute your TV, phone or computer when those ads pop up, or simply change the channel or look away for a minute or two. This may seem extra, but simply refusing to subject yourself to those kinds of messages can have huge impact.
- Dispute. When muting or turning away from those ads is not an option, remind yourself that the goal of the ad is to sell you something, usually by way of making you feel bad about yourself. Note that if these ads were accurate, they would not be needed each year because they would have worked for everyone. The fact that they exist each year shows they don’t work. In fact the Federal Trade Commission warns viewers of the risks of believing many of these ads.
- Think it Through. Remind yourself that while a diet or new exercise regime might not be dangerous for others, it is a slippery slope for you that could result in full-blown relapse. There may be people who can casually try a diet, but people in recovery for an eating disorder are not those people. Those in eating disorder recovery risk much more than the average person in trying a new diet.
- Reach Out. Talk to someone who understands. Talk with your support network about how you are feeling. Whether that’s with friends/family supportive of your recovery, friends/family also in recovery, or a therapist.