This will be a short and simple blog post, and the message is just what is stated in the title. January 1st is here, and you’ll of course see that people are going on diets; you’ll see weight loss heavily marketed as a goal you “should” have.
I’m here to tell you that it should not be your goal as you welcome the new year.
Having goals of becoming healthier by nourishing yourself well, or goals of becoming stronger or more energetic by incorporating enjoyable activity into your life are fine goals to work toward at any time of year. But please do not fall into the temptation of trying to lose weight fast with restrictive, calorie-deprivation diets. [Update in 2024: This includes calorie deprivation that results from weight loss medications. Listen to Episode 131 of my podcast for a thorough discussion of the risks of Ozempic and other semaglutide medications.]
Whether you are trying to recover from binge eating or you are newly recovered, going on a restrictive diet is a risk not worth taking. The body and brain have survival mechanisms that kick into gear when you deprive yourself of enough food, which will harm your efforts to stopping binge eating for good, and prevent you from developing a healthy relationship with food.
Even if you haven’t binged in a very long time and you are confident in your recovery, restrictive dieting should still not be your focus. Recovery opens up your time and energy, and you can use that time and energy to do so much good. It’s understandable to want to feel good in your body, but making your appearance the priority makes your life smaller and takes away your ability to focus on much more important things.
If you aren’t happy with your body, or you think weight loss would benefit your health and your life, restrictive dieting is still not a solution. I’ve talked in previous blog posts and podcast episodes about healthy ways to think about weight and approach weight regulation. I’ve compiled all of my weight-related discussions into one blog post titled “Addressing Weight Issues in Binge Eating Recovery,” which I hope can be a helpful guide for you if you feel like weight issues are a challenge.
I realize that going on a restrictive diet and trying to get fast results can be tempting at this time of year, but ask yourself: Even if you could somehow manage to get fast results…then what? No one can maintain restrictive diets for long, and weight loss medications are not a long-term solution. Attempting to start your New Year with a diet is extremely short-sighted. It’s following the crowd without considering the bigger picture of the rest of the year, or the rest of this decade, or the rest of your life. Even if you could lose weight temporarily, you’d have a slower metabolism and stronger hunger at the end of the process; and if you are a binge eater, a restrictive diet will only fuel your destructive habit.
Dieting is not a solution; it’s a path to more problems. Don’t fall for a “quick fix” that may last for the beginning of the year and then cause much more harm than good. Learning to stop binge eating, nourish your body, honor your hunger and fullness, exercise in a way that feels good, and accept your natural weight is giving yourself a gift that will last a lifetime.
If you want to put binge eating behind you for good in the coming year, the Brain over Binge Course offers powerful and practical guidance to help you toward your goal.
You can subscribe to the course on a monthly basis for only $18.99/month. Learn more.