I flew home to New Zealand from Melbourne on January 1.
If I hadn't known what day it was, I could have easily guessed from the covers of the weekly magazines at the airport book store.
Every year, without fail, they look the same.
NW, for example, featured a "hot body special", with the promise to "drop 5kg in 2 weeks!" OK magazine had a 7-day "celebrity-approved diet plan" inside, in which you could "cheat your way" to a weight loss of 6kg in 3 weeks.
And New Idea had Princess Mary, "mother of four" in a swimsuit (all these covers had celebs in bikinis, obviously) offering "my simple diet secrets" to "drop 5kg fast"'.
I won't go on about why we should boycott magazines with these cover lines and ignore their ridiculous diet claims.
We all know diets — especially those promising rapid weight loss — are a waste of time, money and emotional energy and only make us fatter in the long run, right? But this did get me thinking about the language of diets and food, and how it messes with our heads.
A great New Year's resolution would be to stop using certain words in relation to food, full stop.
It'll make us healthier in body and mind.
Celebrities are not nutrition, diet or food experts. Celebrities are people with the resources to employ around-the-clock personal trainers and chefs to cook them healthy meals. They also have huge motivation to make drastic changes, fast — they make their money from selling a body and an image. This is how celebrities transform their bodies. It's not because they followed a 7-day diet plan. "Celebrity-endorsed" means nothing.
This word — and its mates guilt-free, and guilty pleasure should not be associated with food, ever. When we associate food with negative emotions we're giving food far more power than it should have over us. If food is going to invoke an emotion, let it be joy and pleasure, not guilt.
Related to the above; also add decadent and sinful. Yes, some foods are probably best kept to occasional eating. But such descriptions make us feel bad about eating, when we should feel pleasure.
Food is not about being virtuous or cheating. Nor is it possible to fall off the wagon with food — something I often hear habitual dieters say. There is no wagon. Cheat days or meals just perpetuate disordered thinking about eating. It's better to aim to eat well, for pleasure and for health, every day.
Bad (and good)
When we divide foods into lists of bad and good, we buy into a dieting mindset. Instead, I like to think of all food as just food, and aim for a little bit of everything, and not too much of anything.