The Trap of Diet Culture
Diet culture is a term that most are unfamiliar with but have certainly been affected by. It can look like you label foods good or bad, exercising to burn a certain number of calories or earn a treat, limiting or avoiding certain food groups (hello, carbs), worshipping thinness or weight loss, feeling unworthy or unattractive because of your body, engaging in fat shaming behaviors or talk, just to name a few. It is a set of rigid expectations focusing on thinness and attractiveness instead of physical health and overall well-being.
If you struggle with body image, eating certain foods, or guilt because of your body size, you’re not alone. Media has marketed lies about our body and has turned an everyday necessity, like eating, into a dreadful experience for some. Not being pleased with your body size and feeling afraid of certain foods is something I know all too well. I have fell victim to the diets, strenuous exercise, creating goals around the perfect body, and had no success. But this year I had a breakthrough, I realized that diets usually don’t work and there is nothing wrong with my body. I stopped focusing on weight, following a diet, and doing strenuous exercise that I hated just to look a certain way. This was not a form self-care as I thought it was, it was more harmful than helpful. Ridding myself of the focus on a goal and instead make a lifestyle change. I focused on what my body wanted and needed and honored those needs.
So, some tips if you are starting this journey is to show yourself compassion by speaking to yourself how you would speak and encourage a friend. Speaking to yourself with compassionate accountability around health and well-being can look like, “What does my body need today?” “How can I show myself empathy today”? “What is happening for me emotionally?” or “What do I need in this moment to feel my best?” Allow yourself to eat foods that you enjoy simply because you desire it. Try focusing on movement that feels good for your body. Lastly, try practicing intuitive eating, eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re satisfied and honor the cravings you have in the moment. Your body may surprise you. While all of this may seem easier said than done, it can be accomplished. It is a marathon not a sprint and takes a lot of unlearning of society norms, but it is worth the journey.
To leave you with some encouraging words, there is nothing wrong with your body. Whether large or small, you are worthy, beautiful, and valuable as is, without change, without exception.
The Body is not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch