A debate on food-related resolutions: do they help promote healthy eating or amplify toxic diet culture?
FOR: Resolutions encourage a healthy lifestyle
By the time December comes around, it can often feel like you’re wading through wet cement. The year tends to be draining, and it’s easy to let yourself get weighed down by the lows you’ve experienced along the way. As soon as January 1st makes its long-anticipated appearance, it feels like a burden has been lifted. You can throw out the old calendar and banish your bad habits. The new year is perpetually perceived as a period in which to reinvent yourself, and I believe that this is a good thing.
Although I guess you could technically transform your life on any day of the year, National Nutrition Month March and Vegetarian October don’t have quite the same ring to them. The start of the year is a time where a large portion of the population sets themselves goals and aspirations for the months to come. This feeling of camaraderie and shared motivation can be empowering, make you feel less alone, and encourage you to keep on track. If you decide to start eating clean, it’s much more fun to do this in solidarity with a friend or family member.
When setting these intentions, make sure that they’re not too rigid or restrictive. If you’re realistic about the goals you’re giving yourself, you’re more likely to pursue them. Make resolutions that will keep you healthy on an emotional level. These should be choices that you want to make rather than feel that you have to. Just because a girl you saw on TikTok seems to be surviving exclusively off of smoothie bowls and baked oats, doesn’t mean you should. That said, it’s good to set yourself an aim of some description. It doesn’t even have to be particularly ambitious. Your resolution could be as basic as introducing a glass of lemon water to your morning routine, or hitting your five a day. Regardless of whether you’re having a pint of Ben & Jerry’s as a chaser, the simple pleasure of having achieved something you didn’t use to is immensely rewarding and will make you feel good. I still fully intend on sourcing my serotonin in North Road Tesco’s bakery whenever I feel like it, and so should you. But, we should also try to set ourselves sustainable goals here and there, to boost our inner happiness and foster a sense of fulfilment.
AGAINST: Resolutions are a self-destructive habit
By Holly Downes
Veganuary. Dry Jan. 31 days clean eating. These new year food resolution ‘challenges’ have bombarded the front pages of our 2022 diaries, where we force ourselves to confront the reality that the Christmas festivities cannot prolong into the new year. No longer can we have our Advent calendar chocolate washed down by some champagne for breakfast, consume enough cheese to feed a whole village and indulge in endless mince pies. Our bodies are yearning for a physical cleanse, and with January being a time for change, it seems rather practical to start the new year off with a new diet.
From reducing our alcohol consumption to choosing to add tofu in your stir fry rather than chicken, these small choices allow our livers to recover from one too many cocktails and protect our furry friends – they urge us to become the best version of ourselves. With countless alcohol-free beverages and vegan options being available on the market, the modern world has made these resolutions rather easy to keep.
Whilst this raises our hopes in sticking to our diet resolutions, it creates a toxic pressure where inevitable slip ups plunge us into episodes of guilt. When taking a small sip of your friend’s passionfruit martini feels like stealing candy from a child and eating your grandma’s homemade (very non-vegan) roast dinner is no longer pleasurable but sinful is when these resolutions should be rethought.
New year’s resolutions should make us feel motivated, not force us into cycles of guilt when they are broken. This can only be prevented when we stop taking them so seriously. In the end, they are just sentences written on pieces of paper to be forgotten about in a month’s time. We should ease ourselves into diet-related resolutions – slowly integrate vegan options into your diet or allow yourself one night to enjoy a glass of wine rather than instantly cutting off activities you take pleasure in. The unattainability of new year’s resolutions simply dissolves when you find this balance.
Illustration: Verity Laycock