Updated: May 19
Diet culture is the cause, the catalyst and the result of why we can't seem to love ourselves. And diet culture is everywhere. It's in our tv shows, our advertising, our social media. Hell, it even comes up around the office water cooler. So, if you're ever wondering why:
⚡️ you never feel good enough
⚡️ you always feel guilty, embarrassed or ashamed of how you look
⚡️ you tell yourself everything about you has to change so you can feel worthy
Look no further than diet culture (p.s. - If you're looking for a definition of diet culture, check out this blog post).
But the biggest problem with diet culture, is that we often don't notice it's there. And even worse, we don't realize how harmful it can be.
So now, I'm going to help you recognize your brain on diet culture, and show you the lies it wants you to believe. My hope is that we can all wake up from this body-centred Matrix and realize there's a better way to think about wellness, health and our bodies.
LIE #1: BEING THIN MAKES YOU HEALTHY
Diet culture tries to sell us on the idea that thinness is synonymous with health, which is simply untrue. There are a ton of unhealthy thin people and a bunch of healthy "unthin" people, too (more on that later).
LIE #2: BEING THIN MAKES YOU HAPPY
Not sure when we signed this contract, but I want my money back! I've been my smallest, and most miserable. Currently, I'm at a bigger size (for me), and am in the best place with my body and relationship to food.
(Note: it's important to acknowledge that folks in larger bodies are subject to weight stigma and fat-phobia, which can definitely impact their level of happiness so they may notice improvement if they're able to achieve weight loss. Though, the ideal is full body autonomy and liberation for all bodies!).
LIE #3: BEING THIN SOLVES EVERYTHING
This shiny lie is really shoved down our throats. If we lose those last 10 pounds, someway, somehow we'll be funnier, sexier, smarter, more efficient, more amazing versions of ourselves. But has this ever happened for you with weight loss? I'm still the same human with the same problems, over here.
LIE #4: YOUR WEIGHT IS YOUR WORTH
The idea that you're only worthy if you've achieved a certain number on the scale is, although illogical, something many of us have internalized. You may see it in the way you refuse to wear certain clothes, do certain things or reward yourself with certain items "until"... Until what? Whats the number that will finally let you validate yourself?
LIE #5: YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR SIZE
We might have a certain influence over our bodies that we can control with food and exercise. But, our shapes and sizes are primarily determined by our genetics, our history with chronic dieting + weight cycling, exposure to weight stigma and chronic health challenges. Ironic, the thing we're trying so hard to control if often out of our hands.
LIE # 6: YOUR WEIGHT EQUALS YOUR HEALTH
Just like the idea that "healthy" doesn't have a "look", it also doesn't have a size. How often you engage in healthful behaviours is what most often determines your health, not a number on the scale.
LIE #7: EATING CLEAN MAKES YOU A GOOD PERSON
Diet culture loves to tell us we're so "bad" for eating a slice of cake, or encourages us to only "cheat" once a week. This kind of narrative sows the seeds of guilt and shame that are much harder to "burn off".
LIE #8: YOU NEED TO HIDE ANY IMPERFECTION
Diet culture creates a body ideal that we're told we all need to aspire to. Problem is, they keep changing the mark which makes it even harder for us to achieve "the look". And what's the final verdict on the ideal body type, anyway? Monroe? Twiggy? Spears? Kardashian?
LIE #9: SUGAR IS BAD, CARBS ARE BAD, FAT IS BAD, INGREDIENTS ARE BAD, YOU ARE BAD
There's nothing wrong with choosing to reduce or avoid certain foods because of how they physically make you feel. But, no, you're not a bad person for eating anything. You didn't murder someone for that bagel. We don't need to pile on extra worry, food fear and guilt just because diet culture tells us to.
LIE #10: YOU'RE NOT DOING ENOUGH
It's important for diet culture to keep you down. To convince you that you constantly have to improve yourself to earn love and respect. To teach you that your worthiness is only based on your productivity, your success and your conformity. Works for diet culture because you'll keep coming back, each and every time you fail.
LIE #11: YOU NEED TO PUNISH YOURSELF
If you've ever felt like you need to work out after a night of indulging or restricting food to "make up" for a binge, then you've been diet cultured. Shame, fear and self loathing are terrible motivators and won't ever create sustainable change.
LIE #12: WEIGHT LOSS IS GOOD
Actually, there are a million reasons why someone might lose weight. Things like stress, depression, anxiety, disordered eating, access to food, age or illness could all play a part. It's important we don't judge or praise someone based on changes in their body.
LIE #13: WEIGHT GAIN IS BAD
Same goes for weight gain. Someone could gain weight because they're currently struggling or because they're finally not struggling. We can't know how someone's health is represented and unless invited into the conversation, it's actually none of our business.
LIE #14: THE HARDER YOU TRY, THE MORE WEIGHT YOU'LL LOSE
Nope, nope, nope. That old philosophy of calories in vs energy burned is far too simplistic to factor in the plethora of metabolic and hormonal reasons why someone might not lose weight, even if they're trying really hard.
So now that we've seen the poison seeds diet culture's planted in our brains, what the heck do we do about them?!
Deconditioning from diet culture is a lifelong process, but it starts here and now. By acknowledging the damage diet culture has done. By noticing when your thoughts have been hijacked by diet culture. By redirecting your thoughts and replacing them with something much more helpful and positive.
Ultimately, diet culture causes harm, and sadly, it's often in the pursuit of an impossible body ideal.
Wellness isn’t supposed to be overwhelming. Our lifestyle isn't supposed to cause guilt or shame. Food's here to nourish us, to fuel our bodies and bring us satisfaction.
There is a way to be healthy, enjoy wellness and love your body at the same time.
💛 Swapping diet culture for a better relationship with food will change your health from the inside out.
💛 No more crash cleanses, out of control binges or Monday morning "resets". You deserve so much more.
tl;dr: Diet culture sucks and teaches us that we're not worthy. The most important thing you can do too decondition from diet culture is craft a better relationship with food.
💛 Now's your chance to start your Food Freedom Breakthrough. If you're ready to shift your mindset and change your relationship with food, click below for my free Journal Prompt Workbook!