the world we live in is one that is dripping in diet culture. drowning in it. "diet culture", simply put, is a culture that completely revolves around dieting. it prioritizes weight loss. it turns food into a morality complex. it stains our conversations ("i think i'm going to do keto, want to do it with me?" or "have you heard of counting macros? i'm obsessed!!") and taints our compliments ("oh my gosh you are TINY" and "skinny minnie"). in diet culture, you are either trying to stay skinny or get skinnier. anything other than that is considered "letting yourself go" *cue self righteous and faux-sympathetic slow shaking of heads with hands placed over heart*.
it is also a culture that you will ALWAYS feel inadequate in. you will neverrrrr be good enough. that feeling SUCKS. to combat this sucky feeling, i think that the first step is to first recognize diet culture. christy harrison, one of my favorite advocates for not-diet dieting, defines diet culture as a system of beliefs that:
1. equates thinness to health and moral value
2. promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status
3. demonizes certain ways of eating while elevating others
here are some examples of diet culture that i have either overheard, seen, or read in the past few days. i hope you recognize these and will learn to become aware of them, because as i said earlier, we are drowning in diet culture.
"no dessert?! you're so good."
this is a part of diet culture because it is giving food a whole lot of power. with this short and simple comment, the speaker implied that food makes you a good or a bad person. nevermind the thoughts you have or the acts you do, what REALLY determines your self worth is what you choose to eat!!! if you have cake, you're bad. if you have broccoli, you're good.
*sees a before/after picture on social media*
i have mentioned this before, but before/after shots are probably my least favorite things in the world. i totally get that it takes hard work and dedication to make lifestyle changes and that people are proud of their success. i don't want to discredit that or make people feel guilty for posting them. but... what are people supposed to think when they see that post and they look like the "before" image? or if they think that they look even WORSE than the "before" image? with the side-by-side comparisons, you can very clearly see which body type the poster prefers and idealizes. i get that sometimes these photos can spark feelings of motivation to make decisions like eating more nutrient-dense foods and prioritizing exercise, but i think a lot of times those fleeting moments of motivation are replaced with gloomy feelings of guilt and shame. "why can't I look like that?"
"why am i already hungry, i ate like an hour ago!"
this is actually a personal thought that i had just a few days ago. i caught myself right after thinking this and immediately drank some water and ate a delicious piece of turkey with some hummus. there is no almighty and omniscient clock that says you are only allowed to eat every three hours and if you get hungry sooner than that, your body is wrong and needs to be checked. you don't have to do intermittent fasting. you don't have to avoid eating carbs past 4:00 in the afternoon. you can eat whenever you want simply because your body wants food. so much of the experience of eating has become so overcomplicated. if your stomach is growling and you feel tired or lethargic, that is your body telling you it needs more. trust that. not some meal plan or motivational pinterest quote you found and set as your phone screensaver that says "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels".
"i shouldn't..." *takes cookie and giggles*
shouldn't WHAT? enjoy a delicious treat? if delighting your tastebuds with a homemade delicacy in the company of people you love is wrong, I DON'T WANT TO BE RIGHT (it's not wrong).
*scrolls through facebook feed to see dozens of people selling shakes, wraps, meal plans, etc*
these products exist because the diet industry knows that people want to be thin. the mere existence of these products constantly reaffirm that our society is one that prioritizes thinness. but... if those shakes, wraps, and meal plans actually worked, wouldn't everyone look the same? if diets actually worked, wouldn't people be able to stick to them? why are there SO MANY weight loss products but still SO MANY women that complain they are dissatisfied with the appearance of their body?
i would love to hear your own encounters with diet culture. i remember feeling truly shocked when i started realizing how crazed everyone is about being thin. why are we trying to shrink ourselves?! can you imagine what other things we could accomplish if we stopped thinking about the way our thighs rub together when we walk?!
anyway. just some food for thought. (not good food, not bad food, but just food)