Written by Michelle Johnson, RD from Dear Dietitian
Diet culture is ever present this time of year. Media is littered with tips for sticking to your diet instead of indulging in the Halloween candy and parties this month. Let’s not fall down the diet culture rabbit hole this Halloween. See the following tips for avoiding diet culture this Halloween season.
TIP ONE: Give yourself permission
Setting restrictions or avoiding all chocolate and candy is just giving these foods greater power. This is an example of the “pendulum effect.” The “pendulum effect” means the more you restrict a food, the more you want it. Quite honestly, if I avoided chocolate day in and day out, the next time I came into contact with chocolate at a party I would end up binge eating the whole bowl.
TIP TWO: Unfollow people who are dieting or fat shaming on social media
At this time of the year we may see people talking about the newest cleanse, diet or exercise routine on social media. Social media is a place where you have some control over the media you consume. Instead of doing a ‘diet cleanse’ try a ‘social media cleanse.’ Click “unfollow” or “hide” to those unhelpful accounts.
TIP THREE: Challenge the good food / bad food mentality
Let’s stop assigning moral value to foods. A food is not “good” or “clean.” All foods fit into a healthy diet. Yes I would be concerned if you only ate candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner… because you would be missing out on a few nutrients. However, I am also concerned if you never have candy, chocolate or other fun foods because that is a sign of disordered eating.
TIP FOUR: Set boundaries
This may mean telling others that you are working on body positivity, no longer dieting and that you want to talk about something else. This may also mean spreading the Health At Every Size (HAES) message or talking about the greater than ninety percent failure rate of dieting. Or perhaps it means simply walking away from diet talk at work or at school.
TIP FIVE: Surround yourself by like-minded people
Draw on your body-positive friend supports. Sometimes your community may be your direct friends or your therapist or healthcare team. For others, it may mean drawing on the support of the online HAES and body positive community. In tip two we talked about unfollowing unhelpful media, but we can also do the opposite and try to follow body positive folks instead. Try people like the wweatingdisorderscoalition, bodyposipanda or i_weigh to start!
Halloween is not about dieting. It is about trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving pumpkins and watching horror movies. Let’s leave diet culture behind this Halloween season.