How To Save Yourself From Diet Culture
Diet Culture is a system that values weight loss over health, and moralizes food choices.
Diet Mentality is the voice inside your head telling you which food and exercise choices you should make, instead of listening to your body's cravings or needs.
We live in a diet-obsessed world that disguises restrictive habits as "clean eating." Although you might not know it, you most likely participate in diet culture, or hear others participating in it daily. You're exposed to it from the second you turn on your phone, TV, radio, or even walk into any public setting.
The confusing part is recognizing the diet mentality, since most weight loss programs today disguise it with the words "healthy lifestyle change." Basically, when the wellness trend began to skyrocket in America, the diet industry realized they couldn't survive off of selling typical diets anymore. So what happened? They introduced new "healthy" concepts of clean eating, paleo, detox, gluten-free, vegan, no-sugar, low-carb, etc. And a new generation of diet culture was born.
Now is where it starts to get personal. Listed below are many common characteristics associated with diet mentality and culture. While you're reading, keep note of which ones sound like you.
diet mentality involves ...
(but is not limited to)
categorizing food as good vs bad; making you believe you were 'good' or 'bad' today because of what you ate
allowing your weight to determine your mood
feeling guilty after eating something
avoiding foods high in calories, fat, carbs, or sugar
ignoring internal hunger/fullness cues and cravings
following rules of when, what, and how much to eat
focusing on your appearance & scrutinizing the weight gain/loss of others
feeling superior or inferior to others based on what you/they eat
basing your level of worth on body weight
eliminating certain foods or entire food groups (without medical reasoning; allergies)
feeling the need to justify what you eat
exercising for punishment or to make up for something you ate; not for pleasure
eating more or binging due to a "slip up" and vowing to start again tomorrow
reading labels or checking the calorie count on something you're eating
feeling jealous of others that are stricter with food/exercise habits
constantly thinking and/or talking about food, weight, exercise, diets
Any of these sound familiar?
here's where the bigger problem arises
The main issue is that most women don't realize what they're doing is wrong. They're openly talking about their workouts, detoxes, gluten-free "lifestyle," or my personal favorite example, the KETO DIET. As they praise each other's weight-loss, other women hear it and catch on. This results in disordered thoughts, unhealthy habits, and even eating-disorders. Yet the cycle continues, spreading the epidemic.
So who's to blame?
The diet industry is currently profiting $70 BILLION a year just by making people insecure. They tell women like us that we need to change. They say we will be happier, better, skinnier, and more successful if we watch what we eat and manipulate our bodies.
Most of us believe it, try, and fail. Actually, if you want to get technical, over 95% of all diets fail. We think it's our fault, and that we must be lacking will-power. However, the next day we wake up, and are reminded of the thin ideal again. We compare ourselves to others, become desperate for that quick fix, and continue the vicious cycle.
"Because it will work this time, right? This is the last diet. I have to lose this weight. I'll never find anyone to love me. Why does it come so easy to everyone else?!"
learn to reject the diet mentality
This is just an introduction to many conversations I'd like to have. In short, I'm going to give you the simplest yet most effective advice I can give. Keep in mind, I'm no expert. However, I'm a woman who has 21 years of diet industry BS under her belt. I've gone through self hatred, disordered eating, recovery, and relapse. In the end, whether you realize it today or 20 years from now, you're going to wake up and see that you haven't been living. You've just been surviving. So I chose to live, and my journey of rejecting diet mentality began.
In the next post, I'm giving you my full guide to rejecting the diet mentality. However, I wanted to leave you with a few tips to start off your journey, which unlike a diet will be slow and steady.