How times have changed! When Sophie and I first running workshops back in 2001we were pretty radical. The notion that dieting is practically guaranteed to lead to weight gain and is a major contributor to the so-called ‘obesity crisis’ was shockingly novel. The idea that the dieting industry rested and thrived on their customers’ repeated failure to lose weight, and this meant the product was flawed – not the customer – was not widely spread. No-diet campaigns and events like the recent Body Confidence Awards were few and far between.
When we held a tea party for 200 people on International No Diet Day on May 6th 2005, it was so unusual that we got loads of media converge with everyone from Metro to OK! Magazine featuring it. Beyond Chocolate is definitely more mainstream today, people understand when I tell them I teach women how to stop dieting and have a healthy relationship with food and their body. They don’t look blank or say things like “Oh, do you sell them slimming chocolates then?”. And when I use terms like intuitive eating and self awareness, people don’t automatically assume that there’s incense involved. We’ve graduated from the murky realms of ‘alternative’ therapies and self help to the mainstream.
There are more and more organisations out there offering alternatives to the ‘just eat less and move more’ school of thought. And they are attracting more and more followers. But it’s not just business, there is a growing army of writers, thinkers and activists talking about the futility of dieting and championing all sorts of new approaches to weight-loss and body confidence. Organisations like HEAS (Health At Any Size) who challenge the accepted wisdom that fat = unhealthy. Authors and academics like Susie Orbach who continue to campaign and raise public awareness on the harmful effects of dieting and the impact of certain industries on body image. Campaigns like Body Gossip who go into schools.
There are more and more bloggers out there talking about intuitive eating giving readers everywhere a taste of what is possible. We have also seen an increasing number of health professionals take the Beyond Chocolate principles on board and incorporate them in their work. It’s no longer just the hard core anti dieters muttering about this in a corner. All sorts of people come on our Workshops for Professionals. There are nutritional therapists, personal trainers, eating disorders counsellors, sports psychologists, GPs, yoga teachers, life coaches and psychotherapists out there introducing their clients to ideas and tools that a decade ago were considered a bit ‘new-agey’.
Of course, there is still a very long way to go, as anyone even vaguely rotund who has happened to see a GP recently might attest. There are still a crushing number of people who believe that the solution is simply to have a bit willpower, eat less and move more. And yet, there has defiantly been a change in attitudes. Probably the most eloquent proof that the no diet approach is very much mainstream today, and perhaps the most troubling, is the fact that mega corporations like Weight Watchers are jumping on the bandwagon. The Weight Watchers message has shifted remarkably in the past few years.
Today, we are reassured in their multimillion dollar advertising campaign, Weight Watchers isn’t a diet at all, it’s a ‘weight loss game’. They don’t have diet plans anymore, they have 4 Pillars for weight-loss: changing behaviour and support are two of those pillars.
Sound familiar? They’ve been part of the Beyond Chocolate approach for years.