It’s *that* time of year again in Australia – summer is upon us, and pressure from the weight loss industry is ramping up to HIGH INTENSITY. It’s hard work to stay comfortable in your own skin while living in a thin obsessed world! Fear not, I have 10 ways to help you stay stubbornly body liberated despite the diet culture bullshit!

Tip #1. There is Nothing Wrong With Your Body

Always remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your body. No matter what your size: fat, thin, somewhere in between, whatever: there’s nothing wrong with your body. Even if it’s not ‘healthy,’ it’s still yours, and it deserves to exist on this planet!

Body acceptance is a radical concept in diet culture, where it is ‘normal’ to dislike our physical homes. How screwed up is that!?? But this idea that something is ‘wrong’ with your body is just that – an idea, a belief that you’ve internalised thanks to the relentless body policing messaging. Anything that exists is by definition not ‘wrong’, it just exists. So steadfastly REFUSE to judge your glorious body!!

Stop buying into this bullsh*t belief. There is NOTHING WRONG with your body. Even if they’re not perfectly healthy, all bodies belong, all bodies are worthy of respect, love and care. And yes, that includes yours!

Tip # 2. Build A Forcefield

Even though you know there’s nothing wrong with your body, diet culture will try to get in there at any opportunity to make you feel like shit again. When preparing to venture out into diet culture, take a moment to imagine an invisible forcefield – an impervious bubble – which completely surrounds you. Inside the bubble, you are safe. During the day, invoke the power of your bubble to deflect and reject ALL toxic messages from diet culture. These might include rude stares, comments, or other situations where people try to bring you down. Enjoy the mental game of watching the diet culture bullshit bounce off your incredible armour: your bubble of awesomeness!

Tip #3. Deal With Diet Talk

Inevitably, you’ll run into situations where everyone is talking about their diet/weight loss plan/latest weird food craze. This is to be expected in diet culture.

Situations like these do NOT mean that your decision to quit dieting and live in harmony with your body is wrong. Stay strong! Hear the conversation through the lens of compassion: these people are still victims of diet culture, prisoners of food gaol.

It’s important to have several strategies up your sleeve to use when these situations hit! Here are some ideas:

  • Change the topic: have a few conversation starters up your sleeve, and make them interesting! For example, ask people what superpower they’d like to have if they could choose one. Or, ask people who they admire most in history. Or even ask what star sign everyone is! Or, tell a joke. Anything to break the monotonous drain of weight loss talk.
  • Leave the conversation: A bathroom break is nearly always possible (unless you’re stuck in a lift). It’s much more interesting to do a wee than talk about diets!
  • Mentally Distract: If you are stuck in a lift/can’t escape the conversation, mentally amuse yourself by singing a song. I suggest songs to highlight the oddness of the situation, like The Doors “People are Strange”. Or, try narrating the moment in a “David Attenborough” documentary style:

“The dieters are circling nervously around the office birthday cake…they are now engaging in a peculiar dance of self-denial and expressed longing, designed to reflect their dominance in the social pecking order”…

  • Be Direct: If close friends are constantly talking diets/weight loss, approach them individually for a heart to heart about how their conversation is impacting you. Ask if it is ok to not talk about diets, bodies or weight loss together. If they are good friends, they’ll respect your wishes!
  • Educate: If you are feeling particularly strong, and feel that engaging in a directly challenging conversation might be worthwhile, go for it, voice your opinion! Take the opportunity to tell people that dieting and weight loss focus never worked for you, and that you are now living free of diet and weight loss pursuit. Be prepared if you go down this route for lots of pushback – no-one is more gung ho about a diet than someone in the midst of a diet honeymoon! Evaluate the likely outcome of engaging in direct disagreement with a die hard dieter, and make sure you’re not wasting your time. Not everyone will come to the anti-diet party, that’s ok, and not your battle to fight!
  • Bitch About it to Anti-Diet Allies: one of the best ways to let off steam after being exposed to a diet conversation is to debrief and off load to your community. Nothing feels as good as being heard and understood by people who ‘get it!’

Tip #4. Make Your Environment Body Positive

Remove anything in your home which triggers diet-think, such as scales, “womens magazines”, diet shakes, calorie counters or diet books. Throw out or store clothes that don’t fit the body you have right now. Go shopping for clothes that fit your body and make you feel comfortable (online is your best bet for larger sizes – clothes shopping IRL can be triggering and exclusionary).

Put up reminders of body liberation and body positivity in your house and workplace, like this fantastic poster from Nalgona.

Tip #5. Channel Your Inner Superhero

Remember a time in your life when you stood up for something you believed in. This might be a topic you feel very passionate about, such as the environment or animal rights. Take a moment to connect with this type of conviction. Now, channel this level of unshakeable conviction and stand up for your own body!

Try out adopting a superhero pose, imagining yourself as your own body’s superhero, who shows up when the body bullies arrive to save the day. What’s your superhero called? What do they look like? How do they stand? Now, practice standing there in superhero pose!

Tip #6. Allow Doubt

As well as feeling freeing and relieving, body liberation can also feel at times scary. This is because it’s counter cultural. It can feel hard to swim against the current all the time, to run your own race. At times you’ll feel tempted to go back to dieting and weight loss pursuit. If this happens, try to understand what is driving the desire to go back. And allow yourself to go back if you really want to. But make sure you examine the likely consequences if you did that – what would be easier about life if you went back? What would be harder? Write everything down on a pros and cons list, and allow yourself to come to the decision that sits closest to your values. If you need help with the decision, consult with a trusted friend or health professional.

Tip #7. Practice Self Care

Identify things that you can do for yourself that make you feel very nurtured and cared for, and introduce these acts into your routine. For example, having a big bubble bath (my favourite), meditating, making yourself a lovely hot cuppa tea (my mum’s favourite), washing your sheets, napping, watching a funny or moving movie, lighting a scented candle, having a special playlist of songs to listen to when you’re feeling down, buying or picking yourself some flowers, reading something uplifting or just for escapism, lying in the sun, dancing around your lounge room, doing some gardening…

Think of these as acts of kindness and self-love, and gift yourself with them regularly.

Tip #8. Deal With Comments From Family

If your family are super diet or weight focused, body liberation can feel like a battlefield! Here are some tips on dealing with a weight obsessed family:

  • Make time spent with them short/time limited – have somewhere else to be so you can extract yourself easily!
  • If you’re spending a lot of time with them, give yourself time out whenever you can – escape to the bathroom, have a spare room, make sure you don’t stay with them in the same room on holidays!
  • Cut off weight focused conversations or enquiries about your health/body/diet with a ‘press release’ statement (see the next tip!). Repeat the statement like a broken record – over and over again – until they get the message. If they don’t get the message, leave the conversation, and offload to your anti-diet community.

Tip #9. Create a ‘Press Release’ Statement

This is a general message for you to practice saying out loud to assertively put up a boundary with people who are pushing you about your decisions. Take a few moments to jot down a generic statement you could make which is designed to shut down conversation and assertively express your viewpoint. Here’s an example:

“Thanks for your concerns about my weight/health. I have thought a lot about this topic and continuing to pursue weight loss through dieting is not for me. I’m doing just fine and am totally comfortable with how I am looking after myself right now. I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t bring up this subject with me again”.

Tip #10. Look at diverse bodies

In diet culture we are saturated with images of the thin ideal: we rarely see diverse bodies. It is so important to regularly see images of bodies that look like you! Search social media and online resources. Follow FB and Insta accounts with people who look like you, and pursue body diverse accounts. Plaster the walls of your home, the fridge, the bathroom mirror, with pictures of diverse bodies. Over time, regular exposure to diversity means we start to shift how we perceive our own bodies.

I hope these help, look after yourself!