New year’s resolution: Stop the madness

If you ever doubt for a second that the diet industry is playing us like a fiddle, check out this graph:

stop dieting

It’s not a nice healthy heartbeat. It’s a five-year insight into how the diet industry has programmed us to begin each year with self-loathing, self-punishing behavior that has been cleverly marketed as “normal.”

This is a Google Trends graph of the popularity of the search term diet. It peaks every year in January, with two distinct lows in November and December: the weeks of American Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Click here for the full interactive graph.)

Like clockwork, the holidays end, the new year begins, and we are deluged by marketing from diet industry and “health and wellness” companies designed to remind us that we are not enough. They portray dieting as a natural part of life, especially women’s lives. If you’re not on a diet, what are you even doing?

They make us feel like dieting gives us a sense of community, when in reality, dieting creates an isolating world that closes in on itself. Healthy eating becomes unhealthy obsession. Meal planning becomes food fear. Anxiety replaces joy at family dinners, parties, and impromptu gatherings.

The good news: Between 2012 and 2016, the annual January peak appears to be on a gradual downswing. Let’s keep that going. The other good news: You don’t have to buy in anymore. Marketing is powerless without consumer buy-in.

If you, like me, see the new year as the perfect time to reflect on your day-to-day life and refocus on long-term goals, by all means: Make resolutions. Move more. Try a new hobby. Eat more vegetables. Get a little stronger than you were before.

But do it on your terms. Do not do it for a number on the scale. Let 2017 be the very last time you give your power away to an industry that profits from making you feel inadequate.

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