You’ve probably seen these words strung together hundreds of times. But what do they really mean?
Diet culture is:
- The belief system that controls how you think about fatness and thinness.
- The system which values size and weight, over wellbeing.
- A culture which equates thinness with health, even though that is not always the case.
- A belief system that creates good foods, and bad foods.
Diet culture often leaves us feeling as if we’re not enough. As if our fatal flaw, is that we do not meet a certain ideal of thinness or of health. It makes us feel guilty for enjoying foods, and moving differently.
How does this affect me?
Personally, diet culture leaves me feeling as if I am an impostor in my own world. Sometimes I wonder, who would ever want to take nutrition and fitness advice from someone like me? I don’t have a tiny body, I don’t look like most of the fitness people you see on Instagram, or at the gym. Everyone must be judging me so why do I even bother?
Yet, here’s the thing I wish I’d understood a long time ago – you can love fitness without diet culture. In fact, it’s much easier once you’ve rejected the idea that you have to look a certain way at all times, to enjoy moving your body.
Even when we realize the pervasiveness of diet culture, it is hard to let go of because everyone is reinforcing it, constantly.
- Your main goal in life is not to shrink your body.
- You do not need to be a certain body type to be healthy.
- Health looks different on us all.
- Our bodies are not meant to all conform to the same standards. Your body is different and that is okay.
How to ditch diet culture?
For me, the best ways to ditch diet culture in my life were the following:
- Unfollow social media accounts which make me feel badly about my body.
- Speak to myself about my body the same way I’d speak to a friend about theirs.
- Stop associating foods with good and bad. Food is food, there’s no morality to it.
- Tell myself I belong in beauty, fitness, and food spaces, regardless of my size.
- When people make comments on my body, or my eating, ask them to refrain from it.
The best thing you can do for yourself from that list?
Unfollow anyone on social media who makes you feel badly about yourself. This was the very first thing I did, and once I did that, the other steps came much easier.
A final note:
If you catch yourself looking at someone else and wishing you were more like them, remember this – the world would be an incredibly boring place if we all looked the same. Our differences are our power, and they should be celebrated, not erased.