I thought I'd write a little bit tonight about something that has really been rubbing me up the wrong way recently - this is all the more relevant with the beginning of the new year; dieting.
I hold my hands up as being someone that has probably tried every quick fix I can think of to lose weight; appetite suppressants, meal replacement shakes, boot camp - I even attempted a 3-day juice cleanse once but somehow ended up in McDonalds 4 hours after starting...whoops.
I've tried Slimming World, I've tried detox tea and I've tried throwing up (not too proud of that last one). I've tried it all, but I've never come away with a healthy relationship with food or feeling healthier.
I would say Slimming World was my main success; I put on so. much. weight after my first year at uni - so much my mum cried. I spent the entire summer in the gym and going to SW meetings, and I lost 3 stone in 3 months. I was the literal star child of the SW group, every week I was given certificates and stickers but it became a weird obsession; I became this intensely competitive slimming world authoritarian. Although SW markets itself to change your lifestyle, it's easy to reinforce a negative relationship with food - I wouldn't eat the days of the weigh-in, just to make sure I didn't lose all my progress over something as silly as lunch. I would weigh myself about 6 times a day, just to make sure I wasn't self-sabotaging if (god forbid) I went over my syn allowance that day. Although I lost weight, I still did not have a healthy relationship with food.
It seems, at the moment at least, social media is bombarding us with adverts for 'flat tummy tea', appetite suppressing lollipops and various promises of losing weight fast. Not only do these campaigns capitalise on people's insecurities, but they're also a load of bullshit. It's okay to eat; it's necessaryto eat, so why are celebrities promoting these companies that villainise having an appetite?
I also think it's important to remember that there is no way in hell the influencers even use these products that they are happily selling to the millions; they're simply being paid to promote them whilst they carry on their lives with personal trainers, dieticians and various other luxuries that us normal folk simply can't copy. Even worse, these weight loss brands are using plus-size influencer's photos, without permission, to use as a 'before' picture - they're selling laxatives, that aren't even effective enough to warrant real 'transformations'.
Although I am trying to eat healthier and follow Slimming World recipes, I no longer feel like my life revolves around my weight. I put all the weight I lost back on (lol), but I don't feel the need to weigh myself 6 times a day or feel sad if I have a little comfort eat here and there. Our eating habits should not be weaponised, but unfortunately, that is a side effect of diet culture and the companies that sell it being so present in society today.
It makes me so sad that companies are profiting off of promoting disordered eating, so thank god for people like Jameela Jamil calling out the influencers supporting these brands. I think if you are looking to lose weight, for whatever reason that might be, there are so many other healthy pathways to pursue - and I think the first step is ridding your life of the word 'diet'.
Recently I've been trying intuitive eating (click for link); basically eating when your body tells you it wants to eat, and stopping when you're full (none of this appetite suppressant crap, mama's got a big ol' appetite) - there are some really positive books surrounding it; you're not depriving yourself, and you're listening to your body and what it needs. It also encourages you to 'make peace with your food'; allowing yourself to enjoy what you're eating, and getting rid of the guilt that can sometimes be associated with food.
If you're not trying to lose weight, please don't feel pressured from all of this 'New Year, New Me' propaganda and flat tummy praise on social media; it seems that brands are constantly trying to trigger insecurities by trying to grab our interest in waist trainers, teatoxes and various other 'quick-fixes'; but it's important to not play into the false advertising.
Thank you for reading!