The myth of the ‘perfect’ body


With Christmas over, and many people experiencing a lingering anxiety over  festive over-indulgence, now is the perfect time for us to be bombarded with messages about detoxing, new year exercise resolutions, fad diet tips and promises of achieving a ‘new year – new you’.  But are your New Year resolutions helpful or harmful?  And are the promises made by the many diets on ‘sale’ realistic?

There are hundreds of different diet options open to us – a quick search of google is all it takes to realise how many different diets are presented to us each year.  And each year there seems to be a different one.  Does anyone ever ask why?  Perhaps because there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ diet.  Recently, a number of different articles have been published questioning the rigidity of many of the more popular diets.  Is it really healthy to completely cut out fats, or carbs, or solid food.  In short no – our bodies need a full balanced diet in order to be healthy, and cutting out foods only tend to make us crave them more.  Is it really possible to detox our bodies?  In short no – if there were really toxins that stayed in our digestive system for any period of time they would probably kill us, or at least make us very ill.  Is it really possible to achieve a ‘model’ body by attending a gym class – in short no.   Models have genetics, lighting, photography skills and photo shop on their side.

Eating disorder psychologists talk about the idea of ‘set point theory’ – the idea that we are genetically programmed to be a certain weight and shape.  Sure we can tweak it, but can we drastically alter it – not if we want to be healthy, and have a good quality of life.

So why are we presented with so may promises?  Well, in short because it makes money – In the US 6billion dollars are spent every year on the diet and beauty industry, and this sum is only increasing.

This isn’t meant to imply that new goals can’t be set – by all means, turn over that new leaf and set yourself goals, but make sure these goals are healthy, achievable and realistic for you and your life style.  Body image distress is a huge problem in the UK, and the unrealistic expectations that we are bombarded with every day only serve to increase our dissatisfaction and self criticism.  Focus on the behaviour you want to achieve, rather than the body, and your 2015 resolution are much more likely to last into February.



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