How to shut out the Diet Mentality of the New Year and focus on a healthy body image with Lean Cuisine’s #WeighThis Diet Filter.
Full Disclosure: Lean Cuisine is sponsoring this post. All words, ideas, and content are my own. Thank you for supporting the partnerships that help make this blog possible!
Over the Holidays, there are a lot of parties. A lot of merriment and holly and jolly. A lot of cookies and cheese. Also, lots of deliciousness.
A lot of “I can’t believe I’m about to eat this.”
A lot of “Who cares, I’ll be good in January.”
And of course, this:
- “It’s a gluten-free donut so that means there are less carbs, right? So it’s healthy?”
- “I just had a baby, that’s why I look so fat.”
- “I’m pregnant so I’m just going to eat everything in sight. It’s okay, I’m ALLOWED.”
- “You look so gorgeous – you lost weight? HOW?!?”
- “I’ve had the stomach flu, but at least I lost 5 pounds.”
- “I can’t stop eating this! I’m such a fattie!”
Just a sampling of things I overheard in the last few weeks. I’ve spoken before on my podcast with Autumn Reeser, Janet Varney, and Sandra Oh about this conundrum. I hate that I don’t know how to respond when I hear these things. I want to say, “Stop obsessing over your meal and enjoy it.” I want to say, “Your weight doesn’t equal your self worth. You are more than your looks.” Finally, I want to say, “Hey shut up! Your words are triggering me!” But instead I nod and say what everyone else does: nothing.
Meanwhile, inside my head there’s a whole conversation going on. Mostly, it’s the old thoughts creeping up: If you don’t feel good about yourself and I think you look great, what does that say about me? What’s wrong with me? Am I not good enough? Is it wrong for me to have a third helping of donuts because I’m not eating for two?
I’m a body image activist. When I hear people – especially those I love – talk this way, it not only hurts me because I feel like they’re disrespecting what I’m most vocal about , but also because I know where they’re coming from. Years of binge eating. Followed by years of anorexia. And finally, years of going on (and then off of) every diet I’d ever heard of. Lying to my family. Hiding food. And getting sick. Feeling depressed, anxious, scared, and angry. Basically, the opposite of how I’ve felt the last six years, once I stopped giving these words – and the actions they produce – power.
In my own everyday life, I try my best to shut out these words. I try to filter out the noise. Holiday gatherings have stopped, so it’s easier – I don’t have to deal with it face-to-face. But now I’m back at work – and for a blogger/actor, that means I’m in front of the computer and the TV. Almost every site/channel I visit is already bombarding me with messages that the way I ate over the last few weeks was sinful. That I must atone. I have to do a juice fast, and I must only eat “clean” foods. I need to hit the gym. And I have to admit, even with my many years of “I love my body” rah-rah-rah-ing, I too am not immune to the message my bloat-y belly is giving to me when I look in the mirror: “GIRL, PUT DOWN THE GINGERBREAD.”
Lean Cuisine has started a #WeighThis Diet Filter. There are two parts to it – one is a downloadable Chrome Extension used to block out the word “Diet” on sites that you visit. The second part is a cable box attachment. They are sending it to me and a few other testers – that mutes the word “Diet” every time it’s on television. Just watch.
Video: Lean Cuisine #WeighThis Diet Filter
This is their resolution in 2016 to turn the word “diet” into something positive. I love this, obviously, because I’ve always said from the beginning that the word “diet” – as I use it in the title of this blog – is to intentionally change the way we view this word. “Diet” should not be about counting fat grams or fitting into a pair of pants. “Diet” is the way we eat on a daily basis. It is the green smoothie we mindfully sip because we’re feeling powerful, the same way it’s the burnt microwave popcorn we scarf down over the garbage can because we’re feeling anxious. It’s the acknowledgement that food has power over us, emotionally and physically. And we can choose to harness that power for good. (Lean Cuisine is doing this, literally, by giving back to Girls Leadership.)
My only history with the company, previous to this social media collaboration, are frozen foods eaten to reduce calorie consumption. Yes, as in a diet. But the company is going through a lot of changes this past year, shifting their focus from “dieting” to achievements that have nothing to do with the number on the scale. Did you see this video last summer, asking women, “What would you like to be weighed on besides your physical appearance?”
Video: What do you weigh?
The response was overwhelming; Lean Cuisine wound up bringing the #WeighThis discussion to Grand Central Station via a celebratory art installation. By shifting the focus from “I can’t” to “I am” – on all the things we are and not what we aren’t – I’m hoping the diet filter will help all of us during what is normally a challenging time to stay positive.
I’m curious to see what kinds of media are bombarding us with this message. We’ll see how often the word is used, and in what context. And yes, I’m fully aware that the title of my blog will now be blocked. Ha ha. So I’m hoping you’ll all download the extension to give it a try. The TV Filter is an experimental piece of technology I’m trying, but we all can use that trusty “mute” button whenever we hear “diet” being thrown at us. Share what you want to be weighed on via #WeighThis.
Video: #WeighThis Installation in Grand Central
The only diet I have ever found to actually work is cutting out any words that make me feel guilty about my body, and what I choose to put in it. So I’m excited to see what having the absence of this word “diet” in my life will do. And unlike with people, I don’t have to worry about hurting the internet or the television’s feelings.