Mental Health and Weight Loss Ads

I was recently asked to contribute to an article on the mental health impact of weight loss advertising for Metro.

You can read the article here, but I also wanted to share with you the questions I was asked and the answers I gave.

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Dieting is Never the Answer

This is the time of year when most New Year diets have failed.

Yes, The Eating Silly Season is coming to a close. To be fair, Eating Silly Season is now all year long, but in January it’s especially silly as Diet Culture stages its annual Grand Parade of Bullshit and Misinformation.

Look – there’s that “celebrity doctor” shamelessly promoting disordered eating on social media in the name of “science”. There’s that “diet guru” on TV forcing people who are Not Thin to lose weight rapidly with zero regard for their psychological wellbeing.

Then there’s you.

How are you doing with all of this?

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Summer Rewind: What’s The Big Deal About Exercise?

Here’s another post from the archives, this time exploring how it’s possible to find the same autonomy with movement, as it is with food. Hard to believe, I know, but true.

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“I’m just one of those people who hates exercise”. That’s what I used to say. And I believed it. Man, did I hate exercise. I felt angry (and guilty and ashamed) at the mention of the word and, I have to confess, I’m worried some of you may stop reading this post for the very same reason, but I hope not.

In the past, if a slim person said to me “I’m just going to the gym” I’d think “why the hell are you doing that? You’re already thin! You don’t need to go to the gym”. It was my assumption you only exercised to lose weight. It didn’t occur to me that people might exercise because they enjoyed it.

After all, what was enjoyable about exercise? Nothing. All that pain and sweating and discomfort. It felt like punishment.

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A World Without Dieting

If dieting never existed, what would your relationship with food be like?

Just think about it for a minute.

How would you eat if you’d never learnt to diet?

Would you wake up feeling confused and stressed about food?
Would you feel guilty and ashamed about eating something you “shouldn’t”?
Would you still binge? Label food as “good” or “bad”? Hate your body?

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Expert Insight: A Gentler Way of Dealing with Yourself

“Change happens the way a plant grows: slowly, without force, and with the essential nutrients of love and patience and a willingness to remain constant through periods of stasis.

If change is what you want, you need to find a gentler way of dealing with yourself and others.”

Geneen Roth, “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating”

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How Much is Enough?

You’re having dinner at a restaurant with friends. You skipped lunch so your stomach is growling like a caged beast as you examine the menu. You go to town on the bread basket and devour your starter as soon as it arrives. Now the waiter puts your main course in front of you. It’s a sizeable portion and you’ve eaten almost enough already.

What goes through your mind?

  1. Nothing. You pick up your knife and fork and eat until you’re finished.
  2. “I’ll have to eat it. If I don’t, what will people think?”
  3. “Diet starts again tomorrow so bring it on!”
  4. “I’m paying for it, so I might as well eat it, otherwise it’s a waste.”
  5. “But it looks so good! Also, I’ve had a tough day so I deserve it.”

Which answer leads to you feeling satisfied and thoroughly enjoying your evening?

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