Is the Quarantine15 on your mind? It needn’t be.
We’re living in unprecedented times, and the fears are real. But fearing weight gain shouldn’t be one of them.
Social media’s latest pandemic hashtag — quarantine15 — is just ol’ diet culture ramping up again to prey upon our body insecurities, body shaming us for profit. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the posts:
“Gaining weight in college was called the freshman15. This time it will be the quarantine15.”
“Walking around the house in a sports bra will make you put the quarantine snacks away quick. Eat lunch in your swimsuit.”
“Please tell me that I’m not the only COVID Carboholic.”
Shame on you, diet culture, for making us feel ashamed if our bodies change, especially during a global pandemic, especially as food and eating challenges are “normal human responses to a global pandemic that do not need to be pathologized or treated as abnormal,” as stated by experts at TraumaAndCo.com.
Jackson psychologist and Wyoming Psychological Association President Sadie Monaghan concurs, recently sharing this response to weight fearmongering on her Facebook page:
“I am seeing a lot of fatphobic content on social right now. If you need this, let me say it loudly: Eating for comfort during a collective trauma is OK. Gaining a couple of pounds probably means you were forcing your body to be a weight it didn’t like. Urges to hoard food are a human response to perceived scarcity. Not ‘exercising’ for a few weeks or months is not morally wrong.
“You are more than your weight and/or shape. Weight is not equal to health status. Food is not good or bad, it is nourishment, whether for the body or soul or both. Go easy on yourself and others and don’t push weight stigma or food rules during a crisis, or ever.”
This pandemic will end. But diet culture will flourish, unless we burn it down. Remember: The $72 billion dollar-industry can profit only if we feel “flawed.” Diet culture is built on body shame, and it has warped so many into believing that it’s normal and healthy to be obsessed with “fixing” our bodies and to be hypervigilant with food and exercise.
But we can change that at any time, even now. Maybe especially now.
“In the rush to return to normal,” writes Dave Hollis, author of “Get Out Of Your Own Way,” “let’s use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth returning to.”
Collectively, when we speak out and confront diet culture we can start to undermine its place in our society. As shame researcher and bestselling author Brené Brown says, “Shame is deadly. And I think we are swimming in it deep.” But shame can not survive empathy because “shame depends on the belief that I’m alone” Brown says.
Let’s reclaim our time, energy, money, happiness and self-worth. Let’s imagine a new relationship with ourselves.
In this new normal, fitness is building muscles and improving balance, flexibility, agility and the quality of our sleep. It’s strengthening our energy, mood and mental health. It’s not hyperfocused on weight loss or body image. In this new normal, we enjoy movement for the pure joy of it.
In this new normal we explore nutrition and healthful eating as learning and practicing the basics of human nutrition while tuning in to listen to our body’s needs, internal cues of hunger, fullness, satisfaction and which foods make us feel our best. We transition away from a rules-based and restrictive model of nutrition and toward trusting our bodies, something BeNourished.org calls a “birthright.”
“You were born with an inherent trust for your body,” the website says. “Somewhere along the way you became disconnected from that way of knowing.”
In this new normal, health professionals and any person contemplating going on a diet will learn “Health at Every Size,” an evidence-based compassionate model that switches the focus from weight to healthy behaviors.
“Trumpeting obesity concerns and admonishing people to lose weight is not just misguided, but downright damaging,” says Lindo Bacon, author of “Health at Every Size and Body Respect.” “It leads to repeated cycles of weight loss and regain, to food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, weight discrimination, and poor health.
“Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat. Every time you make fat the problem, these are side effects, however unintended they may be. Everyone can benefit from good health behaviors.”
In this time of uncertainty I hope what is most important is becoming clear and what is not falls by the wayside. Let the hashtag quarantine15 fall away while you turn your attention to building a new, truly healthy normal.
(This article was published in the April 29, 2020 Jackson Hole News and Guide).