Eating disorder charity, Beat, has teamed up with NHS England to offer a programme of advice on how to cope with the ‘new year, new you’ weight loss messaging
While some people look to this time of year to reflect on the past and set goals for the future, it doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, for some, the new year messaging can be damaging.
To help people cope during this time, Beat has published a ‘programme of advice’. Speaking to Beat Helpline manager, Sam, the article includes tips for getting help and how to recognise potential triggers, including:
- Changing the conversation
- Choose your friends
- Keep motivated - in a healthy way
- Is social media helping?
- Be compassionate
Aimee speaks about how she was struggling to cope with her binge eating disorder, when all around there are promotions telling her that if she loses weight she’ll become a better person.
“The pressure to lose weight and look good at this time of year heightens the failure I feel myself to be and, when I feel like a failure, that’s when I binge. I managed well over Christmas and faced New Year trying to block out the ‘new year, new you’ stuff, knowing I mustn’t set myself up to fail or feel bad.
“But the sick part of my mind was quietly setting up disaster for myself. The shops were already full of diet food displays and the media was all about detoxing. At the same time, those shops are full of cut-price Christmas food and even starting to stock Easter eggs - a disastrous combination for someone with binge eating disorder.”
Aimee continues, “I had such good intentions for the new year (so I thought) but my mind and body aren’t going to change just because the date has changed.
“If New Year’s resolutions were enough for me to change my behaviour, I wouldn’t have been suffering from an eating disorder for nearly twenty years. I’m suffering from a mental illness and the ‘new year, new you’ promotion piles on pressure that has worsened my illness and increased the guilt I feel about it.”
Caroline Price, Beat’s Director of Services said, “Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that cause immense distress at all times of year, for people of all ages, and can be especially difficult when we are bombarded with ‘new year, new you’ messaging. It is important to recognise that you may need time to yourself or need support.
“Many people with eating disorders find diet talk triggering and need to avoid it. Instead, you can try and do something you enjoy, for yourself or with your friends or family. If there are people you can trust, speak to them so that you don’t have to face the pressure of the new year alone, whether you are ill yourself or are supporting someone who is.
“The sooner someone gets treatment for an eating disorder, the better their chances of recovery. Anyone worried about their own or someone else’s health can contact Beat’s Helpline, 365 days a year, via phone, email, anonymous one-to-one web chat or social media messaging.
“It is also important to note that eating disorders are caused by a range of very complex factors, so while pressure to lose weight around new year can be extremely distressing, it would not be the single and direct cause for someone developing an eating disorder.”
Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan, Associate Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Mental Health at NHS England said, “Living with an eating disorder is a constant struggle but the new year can be a particularly difficult period if you or someone in your family is managing an illness, with the added pressure of resolutions and the bombardment of dieting tips and weight loss messaging.
“Support is on hand though, whether that be through charities like Beat or the NHS - with an extra £30 million going into children and young people’s eating disorder services every year, and 70 new community based eating disorder teams now covering the whole of the country, meaning more young people are getting the right support, at the right time, closer to home.”
Please know that you're not alone. This time of year can be particularly difficult for some, but help is available. You don't need to change who you are just because we enter a new year - you are wonderful as you are.
If you are worried about your mental health, you may benefit from speaking to a professional. Enter your location in the box below to find a counsellor near you.