We need to talk about resolutions

Yes, it’s that time again, the diet vultures are circling, waiting to pick you off as you repent against the excesses of the last month.

For the diet industry, January sales are a predictor of how the rest of the year will play out for them. They know they need to get you now, it’s their best shot to suck you in with their snake oil, false hope and self flagellation. They know that what they’re selling doesn’t work (95 per cent of dieters gain all the weight back, plus more, within a year).  They don’t care. All the better for them, because then you keep coming back.

The fitness industry isn’t much better. “Beat the fat”, “a whole new you” etc. Tones of punishment and self hate. But the whole thing thrives on you feeling bad about yourself, giving you a whiff of “success” in a way that is never going to be sustainable, and then telling you it’s your fault when you fail. You just didn’t have the willpower, so give us your money again, but this time try REALLY hard.

It never works. Because positive change comes from sustainable habits and, crucially, a place of self love, acceptance and respect.

So why not improve your chances of keeping to your resolutions next year by making them something positive and awesome? Add, instead of taking away.* Instead of losing weight/getting smaller/cutting out carbs why not eat more veg/climb a mountain/become ludicrously strong? Give yourself something to really achieve, and watch as all the other stuff falls into place.

*Unless you’re giving up smoking. And don’t wait until January to do this.

Eat the goddamn pie


I keep seeing women saying things like “How are you sticking to your diet with all the yummy Christmas foods tempting you?” Or berating themselves for eating a mince pie.


Eat the fucking pie. Just eat it, enjoy it and don’t worry about it.

Maybe you’ll gain some weight over the festive period, but when you get back to normal habits, it’ll go back to normal.

It’s important, spiritually nourishing and goddamn lovely to celebrate and convalesce with family, to bond over food and drinks and not to be some neurotic party pooper lecturing everybody about gluten.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: prioritising diets over family bonding is back to front living and just ridiculous.

And if you don’t have habits that you can get back to after the festivities are over, if you’re on a super restrictive regime that doesn’t allow you to partake in your favourite foods, then you probably want to take a look at that. Because it doesn’t sound like what you’re doing is sustainable.


“Just eat less and move more”

…Also known as the idiot’s solution to obesity.

Do I believe that a negative energy balance isn’t essential to lose weight? No, it obviously is. But to reduce something with a myriad of complex social, environmental, genetic and psychological factors to one simple suggestion is idiotic.

But that wasn’t to be the point of this post.

We are led to believe by the media and those looking to make a quick buck by capitalising on society’s preoccupation with weight that we can, and should, eat as little as 1200 or 1500 calories a day, or even less. And furthermore, that we can, and should, exercise as well.

1200 calories is roughly the figure an adult male IN A COMA requires to keep his basic functions ticking over. Like, y’know, breathing, heart beating, hair growing. This is highly unlikely to be enough for a moving, non-vegetative person.

So it’s unsurprising that most of us are only able to ‘stick’ to these diets for a short time before we get utterly miserable and start eyeing up our children as a potential food source. It’s not lack of willpower, it’s called being ravenous.

But there are further consequences of attempting to create such a big caloric deficit. For women, we need an energy balance of around 40 calories per kg of lean body mass. That’s AFTER exercise. What you need left over for your body to perform its functions, especially those dependent on oestrogen.

If you try to eat this few calories, and exercise as well, you’re likely to be notching up somewhere well south of this. Levels of hormones IGF-1 and T3 decline and menstrual cycles and bone density start to suffer. You want to be thin, but do you want to be injured and ill? Infertile?

There’s a reason that 2000 calories is recommended intake for adult women. It wasn’t just plucked out of the air. And yet we’ve become so warped in our attitudes to food consumption that it seems like a dirty word. I know I would once have considered a day in which I ate this many calories a failure or a binge. Eating the recommended intake may not help you to lose 14lbs in 7 days or anything else ridiculous, but you will be able to ‘stick’ to it, and you won’t wreck your health and your mind.

So don’t just eat less and move more. Eat enough, and move enough.

Intuitive eating? Is that like mindfulness?

Well, sort of. That’s part of it. Taking time to consider what you want to eat, savouring what you are eating and checking in with yourself to ask whether you are satisfied.

But it’s so much more.

It’s abandoning the diet mentality forever. Freeing yourself from ‘shoulds’ about food. Accepting yourself, your body, your desires and tastes without judgment. Understanding that food has no moral value, it isn’t ‘naughty’, ‘cheeky’, ‘indulgent’, ‘sinful’. Refusing chocolate isn’t ‘being good’ and all food is ‘clean’ unless you picked it up off the floor (and even then I would still eat it most of the time).

Intuitive eating is remembering what hunger feels like and what foods you actually like to eat.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Get in touch with your body’s cues and figure out what tastes good. And yet it was a revelation for me.

I’d spent so long governed by ideas of foods being good and bad that I had no idea what I liked any more. I used to make up lies – “pasta gives me stomach ache” – to avoid eating the foods I feared when someone else served them up, and started to believe them myself through sheer repetition.

These days I can casually grab a sandwich from the shop for lunch without freaking out about bread or carbs. Every now and then I notice how little of a deal it is to me now. Major achievement, right? Putting a man on the moon has nothing on me conquering the gluten fear!

But I know there are still people struggling against themselves, crushing themselves with their own set of shoulds and shouldn’ts. And I want to say to you that there’s another way, a way where you can just not think about food and it’s easy, and it’s happy and it’s not as scary as you might think.