Toxic diet culture is out of quarantine

The weight loss industry is back, and it’s shaming you for surviving a pandemic! I’m here to remind you, and myself, that there’s no shame in putting on a few pounds when you’ve literally been stuck at home for a year.

Oh, toxic diet culture. No matter how hard we try to ditch you, you rebrand yourself and come back with a vengeance. You’re underhand and sneaky, and it’s hard to spot the signs when you’ve been ingrained in us, particularly girls and women, from time immemorial.

This time last year, we were all in this lockdown together. Britain tried to muster some ‘Blitz spirit’ a la World War 2, and we banded together for virtual quizzes, virtual pubs and economy saving takeaways. Now, the virus hasn’t really gone anywhere (I’m looking at you, new variants), but with vaccinations and successive lockdowns, we’re reemerging, pasty and somewhat vitamin D deprived, into the light.

That means that the pressure to look our ‘post lockdown best’ is upon us. Basically, the weight loss industry has revved up after giving us a lovely reprieve.

Body shaming by any other name

‘Ditching the quarantine 15’ isn’t about health. It’s about shame. How dare we ‘let ourselves go’ and wear comfy, baggy clothes in our own homes? How dare we be unable to participate in unconscious exercise e.g. walking to the train station and back, when we’re essentially locked in and hunched over our dining tables answering emails? How dare we order a takeaway that alleviates the boredom of cooking yet another meal for ourselves?

It’s very similar to the body shaming that new mothers experience. They’re expected to ‘bounce back’ from a 9 month period of growth, followed by one of the most excruciating experiences known to humankind.

These have indeed been unprecedented times, and we need to bear this in mind before we start regurgitating the same old toxic diet terminology.

You’re not alone

Hey, I’ll say this now. I’ve put on a couple of pounds! I haven’t been weighing myself that much on the scale, but my skinny jeans (typical millennial) are definitely a bit tighter on the waistband and thighs.

I know that I’m not the only person who’s experiencing this.

During the first lockdown, I was taking early morning walks and trying to practice yoga in my small flat (moving the heavy coffee table back and forth every time put a stop to that for a while though). The second lockdown flew by in no time at all and the third… well… it killed my and a lot of other people’s motivation.

So if you spent most of January and February this year at home, curling up and not really moving then, honestly, don’t beat yourself up. It was dark and cold, and things felt pretty hopeless.

Healthy priorities

Our health is important. We can’t deny that.

So what should our priorities be? It should be whatever makes you both happy and healthy. There’s no point starving yourself with nothing but salads and there’s no point exercising to the point where you hurt yourself.

You’ve lived through a pandemic. You can do this.

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  1. I gained 30 pounds during 2020 and lost it all in 2021. I didn’t do it because I felt shame, but because I have high blood pressure and want to improve my health. However, I maintained my diet (with reduced portion sizes), stopped snacking and started to do exercise 5 days a week.

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