- During the festive season, we find permission to indulge in delightful treats, shared meals and the joy of connection. The atmosphere is filled with the spirit of celebration, creating an environment where food is a source of joy rather than a set of rigid rules.
As the calendar turns, January often brings with it a cloud of resolutions, promising change through restrictive diets and rigorous routines. The contrast is stark – the freedom and joy of December replaced with the potential gloom of January, where our focus shifts to weight management and stricter regimens to ‘get back on track’.
There is a phenomenon known as the ‘fresh start effect’ and there’s no reason why we can’t use this to our advantage to mark a new chapter and renewed energy to explore our well-being. The problem is, it’s often accompanied by the diet voice, that familiar little friend. There’s a contrast in its motives too – urging us to indulge, knowing that what lies ahead will see it take centre stage to control your choices and behaviours.
Let’s look at some common themes in the diet voice – do you recognise any?
And is next year, perhaps the opportunity for a different perspective? More on this later…
Let’s start with the obvious biggy:
1. January you’re going to get seriously on it so you might as well enjoy yourself now.
Truth: Life is a continuous journey, not a series of countdowns. Every moment is an opportunity to enjoy life and make choices that honour your well-being. It’s often the extreme swings in eating behaviour that generate the feeling of lack of control and the pendulum effect, especially at this time of year.
2. You ate so much yesterday, you’d better skip breakfast and save some calories today.
Truth: No matter what you ate yesterday, you still need to eat today. Your body is resilient and knows how to find balance once you communicate with it effectively.
3. You’ve already blown it today so what does it matter now for the rest of it.
Truth: This ol’ chestnut – and let’s face it, it’s rarely chestnuts we’re indulging in. Release the guilt and embrace the present. Every moment is a chance for a fresh perspective, and self-compassion is the key to resilience.
4. All these foods will be off limits soon so go on, have another one.
Truth: Food is not your enemy but the burden of impending restrictions, can make it feel that way. It is possible to find a balance that works.
5. It’s the holidays and there’s no routine. Just wing it for now and we’ll sort it out in the new year.
Truth: Time off work and school can be tricky to navigate but it doesn’t have to feel like you’re cast adrift. It is possible to find a balance that allows you to look after others, whilst also respecting and honouring your own well-being.
6. You don’t deserve to buy yourself nice things until you’ve lost the weight.
Truth: Tough one this, but it’s really common in the women I work with. The truth is your worth is not determined by your weight. You deserve love, respect, and joy at every stage of your journey.
7. You’ve got no will power. What is wrong with you? Look, everyone else does it!
Truth: Willpower is a finite resource, and you’re human. Our brain does love a bit of comparisonitis, but the reality is we rarely do this accurately. Instead, learn to nurture habits that align with your values and desires, and challenge beliefs that fuel unrealistic expectations that set us up to fail.
8. No one else is worrying now, so you don’t need to either.
Truth: We are primed to do things like other people, because it’s associated with survival. We breathe a sigh of relief when the food choices of others gives us the permission to do the same. Caring less what others do and focussing on our own well-being and growth, is where the wins are had though.
9. You know you’re going to finish the packet so might as well get it over with now.
Truth: It’s really common to confuse physical needs with cravings and unmet emotional needs. We step on a familiar train and it’s hard to get off it. Digging into what’s really going on and building trust in body signals is key.
10. What are you going to choose for lunch? Let’s check all our rules. Oh dear, there’s quite a few and they all contradict each other. Oh well, f*ck it – have whatever.
Truth: This overwhelm is confused with a lack of will power. You don’t lack will power; you just lack clarity. When we feel this lost it’s incredibly demoralising. It can cause us to make choices quickly so we don’t have to think about it too much, or to skip meals altogether. Generally, it just disconnects us from our body further.
11. Why, just why, did you eat all that? You stupid cow.
Truth: This was a tough one to write, but I know it’s how so many women talk to themselves. It’s almost as if we don’t know how else to do it. There’s no doubt harsh words hinder your journey and that self-compassion is key, and starting that process is empowering.
12. You cannot be trusted. Simple as.
Truth: Trust is a journey, not a destination. Start by trusting your body and intuition, and gradually rebuild a positive relationship with food. You can trust yourself to make choices that nourish both your body and soul. Easy to say, harder to do, but it’s the essence of the work I do and the spirit of the Take the Weight off your Mind workshop.
Join me for this workshop as we delve into menopausal nutrition and weight science. If you feel stuck in a rut and drained by your diet voice, then take a powerful step towards changing that.
In this workshop you can:
- Deepen your understanding of your body and mind in relation to the hormone changes you are experiencing.
- Sort facts from fiction on all things menopausal nutrition and weight management.
- Improve your mind-body connection.
- Take informed action with a clearer head and renewed energy.