LIFESTYLE

'Be Real' Body Confidence Campaign Warns Against Fad New Year Diets

30/12/2014 08:58 GMT | Updated 09/01/2015 09:59 GMT

With the constant talk between friends of New Year's resolutions, diets and exercise regimes, a lot of us feel under pressure to change the way we look in January - and the media isn't helping matters.

A media audit of the past three years reveals there was a 62% increase in diet messaging between December and January last year.

In January 2014, there were over 1,200 mentions of the word ‘diet’ in national and regional media articles in the first five days alone – 43% more than the year before and 66% more than 2012.

But Be Real, the UK’s national movement for body confidence, is issuing a warning against the damaging impact of quick-fix fad diets on body image and confidence.

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“We know that healthy eating is important and we are not ‘anti-diet’ but at this time of year we know it’s really difficult to escape the deluge of health and fitness messaging which appears all around us, much of which focuses on fad diets," Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of Be Real, said.

“As pressure increases at the start of January, we want to encourage people to take long term attitudes to healthy eating, rather than endlessly trying quick fix solutions which are not only damaging but often don’t actually work.”

According to recent findings from Be Real, a fifth of adults have skipped meals to try and lose weight and a quarter of us admit to struggling to keep up exercise and diet regimes.

A third say we’ve returned to our previous weight after dieting, indicating that a short-term, quick fix mindset is stopping individuals from achieving long-term healthy lifestyles.

Previously speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, BDA spokesperson and consultant dietitian Sian Porter explained why quick-fix diets often fail.

"The whole mindset of 'I'm going on a diet' suggests it has a beginning and an end, and to lose weight healthily you have to make small, sustainable changes," she said.

"A diet that will work is a diet that you can stick to, as long as you're not harming your health in the process."

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Be Real is uniting schools, businesses, charities, public bodies and individuals to change behaviour and celebrate healthy and diverse bodies.

The campaign, which has been founded in partnership with Dove and coordinated by YMCA, has gained some high profile sponsors including All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, bareMinerals, Debenhams, Facebook, Forster Communications, Government Equalities Office, N Brown, New Look and Superdrug.

Paralympian Stef Reid is just one of the famous faces supporting the cause.

Stef told us she felt inhibited when trying to get back into shaped after losing her right foot in a boating accident.

"One of the biggest hurdles I experienced when getting back into shape was feelings of self consciousness - am I doing the exercise right? Do I look silly for doing everything at a beginners level? Is everyone here secretly laughing at my fitness level?" she said.

"I want to show men and women alike that it is what our bodies can do that matters, not what we look like, which is why I’ve joined the national movement for body confidence.

"Low body confidence affects people of all ages, all shapes and sizes, and is having a devastating impact on physical and mental health.

"We should be grateful of what we’ve got and adapt a long term approach to health and fitness that works for us rather than giving in to external pressures.”

Do you have an experience like Stef Reid's to share?

Be Real is inviting people to join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook to help #fightthefad by identifying good and bad examples of diets and healthy eating. You can share your findings and experiences with them at @bereal_campaign #bereal.

Visit facebook.com/BeRealBodyConfidence to find out more.

Body Image Heroes