Coping with New Year

Posted 03/01/2019

When we are bombarded with “New Year, New You” messaging and diet talk, January can be a difficult month for people with eating disorders. It can seem that everywhere we look there are ads and promotions telling us to feel ashamed of our bodies. We talked to our Helpline Manager, Sam, to get her advice about how to avoid your triggers at this time of year and tips for getting help:

Changing the conversation

  • If you feel able to do so, explain to those around you that you’re finding their conversation unhelpful and do not wish to speak about diet-related topics.
  • Often being direct can be difficult or you may not feel comfortable with this, so instead it could be helpful to try to shift the conversation away from the diet chat more subtly. For example, how about asking whether the person has any plans for their weekend or whether they have seen any good films recently?
  • If trying to change the conversation doesn’t work, remove yourself from the conversation. You do not have to stand and listen to something that is making things more difficult for you.

Choose your friends

  • Think about whether there are certain people around you who continually speak about diet talk, and how you can set boundaries with these people. Is it possible to let them know you struggle with this chat prior to meeting them, or would it be better to have some time apart whilst things are tough for you? Your wellbeing is the priority!

Keep motivated – in a healthy way

  • Keep reminding yourself that your recovery is the most important thing and that going against the diet culture will help you to regain your life from the illness. Try writing a list of your motivations for recovery, and look at this when things are tough.
  • Think about how to challenge the diet talk, whether internally or externally. For example, reminding yourself that there are no such things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, and that it is important to eat regularly. If you are receiving professional support, write down any diet myths that you are struggling to challenge and work through these with them.
  • Think about what you can put in place if you have felt triggered. Is there a distraction technique you can use or someone you can speak to who can help you challenge the thoughts you are having? Are there things you enjoy that you can treat yourself to?

Is social media helping?

  • Ensure that the social media accounts you’re following don’t make you feel bad about yourself or reinforce messages of diet culture. Often it can be difficult to break away from these accounts, but it’s important to recognise that it is likely the illness which is drawing you to these accounts.

Be compassionate

  • Try to be compassionate in the way you view conversations that might be triggering and your response to them. It is unlikely that the people around you mean to make you feel upset, but equally, you are not at fault for how they leave you feeling.
  • Remember that you’re not alone: a lot of people find this time of year difficult. Beat’s Helpline is open every day, from 12 – 8pm on weekdays and 4 – 8pm on weekends. You can also access support via email, one-to-one webchat, and social media messaging, and through our online support groups.