New Year resolutions are a common tradition: setting goals you want to accomplish within the upcoming year. These goals can vary from person to person, but one of the most popular goals tends to include some sort of diet or plan to lose weight and “get healthy.” While there is nothing wrong with making a pact to better yourself, it is all too easy to fall victim to diet culture.
Diet culture has become a growing issue. We are often told by society that we should be a certain size or a certain weight, and if we do not fit that mold, we should do whatever it takes to get there. It creates the illusion that whatever action that is taken, such as a diet, is “healthy.” We often see ads and articles promoting certain diets, eating plans, products or supplements that promise weight loss. As long as you lose weight, it must be healthy, right? Wrong. Body size, shape or a number on the scale do not equal health! There are alternative actions you can take and goals to set that lead to a happier, healthier you.
Fuel your body. Our bodies are amazing. They are able to create energy from things we eat, detox, fight off infections and so much more. Our bodies need fuel to run properly. We can nourish our bodies by eating a variety of food groups such as fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy that provide vital nutrients for proper sleep, mood and brain function. But keep in mind “variety” means all foods can fit! Labeling foods as “good” and “bad” or restricting certain foods is not a healthy habit. It is important to create a healthy relationship with all foods and know that satisfying a craving for dessert or other foods is perfectly acceptable.
Listen to your body. Again, our bodies are amazing! We are designed to have cues that tell us when we are hungry and when we are full or satisfied. Eating regularly throughout the day is a great way to keep your body fueled and satisfied throughout the day.
Move more. Implementing physical activity provides so many benefits for our bodies, but also for our mental health. Get moving in a way that is enjoyable to you! If you do not enjoy hitting the weight room or treadmill, find something that better suits your needs. Try a fun fitness class, work walking breaks into your daily routine or get outdoors to play with your children or pets.
And finally, love yourself. Do not succumb to the pressure to be a certain size, a certain weight, or look a certain way. Social media makes it far too easy to have unrealistic expectations at our finger tips. Avoid dwelling on accounts that cause you to be more critical of your own body or food choices. Be selfish and take the time to listen to your body and implement habits that make you feel happy, healthy, and satisfied.
Happy New Year!
Rachel Hughes, RDN, LD, is a clinical dietitian at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital.