Despite the infinite ways one can practice self-improvement, dieting is typically the most common New Year’s resolution these days.
Regardless of where you are in your recovery, or even if you have never struggled with an eating disorder, feel empowered to say “no” to dieting in the new year.
If you want to focus on a resolution this January, identify ways to challenge yourself and truly grow as a person in ways that will support your recovery journey.
New Year’s Resolutions & Dieting
It can sometimes feel like dieting has a monopoly on New Year’s resolutions. Fight the urge to place your validation and self-worth in your body size or the number on the scale, even though it becomes socially acceptable this time of year.
A 2013 study  examined the annual variation in Google searches over a seven-year period and found that keywords relating to “dieting” regularly peaked every January, then decreased steadily throughout the year. Researchers attribute this to the diet culture that is so prominent in December and January, largely due to New Year’s resolutions.
It is understandable why many people turn to dieting to better themselves in the new year. So much of what society teaches us is that if we lose a certain amount of pounds, we will finally be happy, or if we fit into a certain size, we will finally find true love or get that promotion.
These messages are dangerous but very ingrained in our culture. Though this is not responsible for the development of eating disorders, it is certainly a contributing factor and leads to the normalization of disordered food behaviors.
Why This is Not an Option in Recovery
If you are in recovery, you might find yourself tempted to diet. You might say, “I’m just doing it in solidarity with a friend,” or, “It’s just 5 pounds, then I’ll stop.” Think about whether the risks are truly worth the reward.
Even if you are fully recovered, think twice before dieting. Eating disorders can be triggered very suddenly, so there is no reason to poke the beast if you are doing well with your mental and physical health. It can be a very slippery slope from a diet to relapse.
In other news, diets do not work. This has been established. The diet mentality is harmful and ineffective for long-term weight loss.
With that in mind, try to practice eating intuitively, exercising mindfully, and not letting your food or exercise regimens be easily influenced by the media or the New Year’s resolutions of others.
Positive & Healthy Alternatives
Instead of dieting, try something new. Pick up a new hobby, meet new people, take up a new instrument, or find other ways to infuse positive change into your new year.
Setting aside 20 to 30 minutes at the end of each day to read a book is a simple and easy way to practice self-care. If reading is not your thing, take that time to journal or watch your favorite sitcom. Give yourself the time and space to do things simply because they bring joy to your heart or fulfill you in some way.
Getting crafty with some do-it-yourself projects can also be fun as you kick off the new year. Create things for people you love or just do little crafts for yourself that no one will ever see. Tapping into your artistic side can be positive in many ways and even serve as a coping tool if you find yourself triggered.
You do not have to go on a juice cleanse to feel like a new person, practicing some early spring cleaning can be even more cleansing and literally make space in your home and life for the things that mean the most to you.
Finding alternatives to dieting and extreme exercise can lead to a more fulfilling life as you go into the new year.
Responding to Others
Many people will be starting diets for their New Year’s resolutions.
You are making a different choice, and it is okay to speak your truth about why that is, but remain compassionate toward those who feel compelled to start off the new year with restriction. Most of us know that does not usually come from a positive place.
Contributing to the world in meaningful ways while spreading ideals of body positivity and intuitive eating can slowly chip away at diet culture and empower more individuals to choose resolutions that encourage self-exploration over self-deprivation.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
What is your favorite pro-recovery New Year’s resolution?
About the Author: Courtney Howard is the Director of Operations & Business Development at Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from San Diego State University, holds a paralegal certificate in Family Law, and is a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate. After obtaining her certification as a life coach, Courtney launched Lionheart Eating Disorder Recovery Coaching in 2015 and continues to be a passionate advocate for awareness and recovery.
References:: Markey, P.M., Markey, C.N. (2013). “Annual variation in Internet keyword searches: Linking dieting interest to obesity and negative health outcomes.” J Health Psychol. 2013 Jul;18(7):875-86. doi: 10.1177/1359105312445080. Epub 2012 Sep 19.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 27, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com