What is Professional Help for an Eating Disorder
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  • Writer's pictureKate Ringwood, LPC

New Year's Resolutions and Eating Disorder Symptoms

Have you heard this a lot lately? I certainly have! New years have a funny way of motivating folks to do things that are outside of their comfort zone. Sounds great, right? Here is the thing, are these goals coming from societal pressure or are they coming from internal values? Today we are going to dive into it!

Let’s get right to the main goal that comes up, weight loss. We see it all the time on commercials and advertisements for deals to help you accomplish your ultimate new years resolution of weight loss. So let’s start with how our culture influences those new year's resolutions.

What is weight stigma and how is it connected with eating disorder symptoms?

Weight stigma is the negative judgment from others around one’s weight, shape or size. The thing is, those who experience weight stigma are actually less likely to engage in physical activity, have lower self-esteem and higher body dissatisfaction, and are at higher risks for eating disorders. So essentially, judging someone based on their weight can have pretty severe consequences. These can show up in the form of eating disorder symptoms, such as malnutrition, isolation, negative body image, or an unhealthy relationship with food.

So how is weight stigma connected with New Year’s resolutions?

Well due to weight stigma, folks often feel like they need to lose weight in order to fit in or just not feeling judgment from those around them. This goes back to early in this article where we talked about societal pressures versus internal values. Due to these pressures, in comes the diet plans, gym memberships, and weight loss plans. The thing is, diets have been shown to be 95% ineffective, leading those that go on them to gain all the weight back, and oftentimes add on some more. Add in that diets don’t often happen just once, the dangers of weight cycling and building an unhealthy emotional relationship with food and that New Year’s resolution become a spiral of shame.

Now that we can see how New Year's resolutions are not helpful coming from societal and cultural pressures, let's take a look at ones that come from our own internal values.

When we look at our top values, we are identifying the things that mean the most to us and who we want to be as an individual. This is different for everyone. Someone who values education, determination, and work ethic may have very different goals in life than someone valuing family, kindness, and love. Neither is right or wrong, they are simply different. By identifying our top values, we can work to focus on who WE want to be and not what the outside world wants us to be. This is where amazing self growth happens and we start growing into the person that we ultimately want to be and be seen as in this world. Setting goals or New Year’s resolutions can be a very positive way to feel motivation to be that person. Let’s work together to allow people to be who THEY want to be and not who society wants them to be. That is my ultimate goal as a therapist.

If you or someone you know is looking for support, please contact us here and schedule a free consultation.

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