I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “diet culture”, but what does it mean? Diet culture is a system of beliefs that praises thinness and values weight, shape, and size over health and well-being. This belief system also:
- Promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, usually with unrealistic standards
- Labels certain foods as “good” and other foods as “bad”, linking food choices to moral virtue
- Perpetuates fatphobia and fuels eating disorders
This can begin to show up in your personal world as:
- Using exercise as punishment
- Letting a food label give you permission to eat
- Celebrating one’s weight loss, silence when weight is gained
- Talking about diet and your body not in a positive way
- Avoiding food groups for being “bad”
- Associating worth with how you look
- Equating thinness with health
- Feeling guilt and shame around food
- Letting the scale influence your behaviors
- Worshiping thinness
- Avoiding socializing to avoid any eating challenges
- Distrust between you and your body
How do you protect yourself from the $70 billion dollar diet industry that intentionally promotes weight loss at any cost, KNOWING that dieting doesn’t work yet blames YOU for its failure? Here are the best ways to avoid diet culture:
Get Educated About Diet Culture
Congrats, you are already checking this box by reading this blog! If you don’t have any concept of what diet culture is, you have no chance of avoiding it!
Detox From Unsupportive Social Media Influencers
People that promote diet culture know that you’re susceptible to the messages and images that feed into the diet culture, and will try to sell you on it every second they get. Plus, since diet culture is heavily integrated in social media, you will find many individuals get sucked into the game without realizing it, and then promoting it with booty shots, heavy talk about how much weight they’ve lost, or the latest and greatest diet they’re on. No matter how popular they may be as a public figure, if you truly want to get out of your head about food, unfollow these types of influencers and programs. Only follow those that inspire you with positive messaging about food, body image, and life!
Adopt An Intuitive Eating Approach
Intuitive Eating helps you move from body distrust to body trust, ultimately becoming your own nutrition expert surrounding why, when, what, and how much to eat without counting one more damn calorie. That means getting back in touch with what you want and need to eat, your hunger and fullness cues, and finding joy in eating again without the diet culture food police attacking you at every bite.
Intuitive eating sounds like a unicorn for many, but you HAVE intuitive eating instincts already within you. In my professional experience, working with a professional to help you get more comfortable with intuitive eating will help you stay OUT of your head in the process which will speed up the rate to which you truly adopt intuitive eating. Our Diet Freedom™ Membership is designed to give you a clear success path to follow to master intuitive eating AND get to the root of your unwanted eating behaviors but without having to read 1000 books. You can learn more here.
Avoid Moralizing Food
Resist thinking about food in black and white terms of “good” or “bad”. Sure, are there foods that are more nutrient rich than others? Absolutely. But YOU are not morally bad by having foods on the lower end of the nutrient richness scale. Plus, one particular food or meal alone won’t cause you to gain weight or make you unhealthy! This also means being aware of any comments you make towards others about what they are choosing to eat. This can be just as harmful to them as it is to you, even when done in jest. My advice? No matter what you choose to eat, aim to feel better AFTER the meal than before you started. Make any food decisions from an empowering place, that means at times you say yes, and other times you say no, but on your terms and NOT in a rebellious way.
Dare To Enjoy Food
Wow, what a crazy concept! Well folks, eating SHOULD be pleasurable. If you are gagging at the thought of chicken and rice but yet continue to eat it because you’re trying to “be good” and “eat healthy”, please stop. Regardless of nutrient composition, if you do not like what you’re eating, DO NOT EAT IT. Choose foods instead that you will enjoy that also make your body and mind feel good. We are wired to enjoy our food, it is literally a psycho-physiological need. If we do not enjoy our food, the brain won’t get the full message we’ve eaten and will pump out craving signals to eat more. Plus your resentment and dissatisfaction towards healthy eating will only increase. Instead, you can ask yourself, will I feel nourished after eating this? To help you give yourself your own reality check with what you choose to eat.
Embrace Body Diversity
Recognize that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. The message is NOT that ALL bodies are healthy at every size. Yes, some larger bodies can be unhealthy, but smaller bodies can be unhealthy too. We all have a genetic blueprint. I have a women’s 8 shoe size. I would never try to shrink my feet size to fit into a size 6 shoe. Ouch. Our bodies are no different. We all come in different shapes and sizes. The best thing to do to discover your natural size and healthy weight set point is to focus on healthy emotional well being, physical fitness, and nourishing your body adequately via intuitive eating. After all, what makes us different IS what makes us authentic and unique!
Reframe Your Self-Talk
Now that you’re seeing what diet culture is and how to avoid it, you’ll need to be doing some reframing with the food and body police in your head. They will be there for a while because this has been your perception for a long time. As heavy food or body judgment thoughts come up, you’ll want to practice bringing awareness to them and reframing them from a non-diet culture frame of mind, here are some examples:
OMG these jeans make me look SO fat → These jeans aren’t comfortable, let me see about trying on a different pair…
How much weight have you lost so far? → Your energy is fabulous today, I’m so proud of you for putting yourself first!
This food is bad, I shouldn’t be eating this → How will this food make me feel after? Do I really want it?
There you have it! Now you’re ready to stand guard against the demoralizing diet culture! Ready, set, go!