May 30, 2020
What is Diet Culture (Pt. 1)
Today I have what was meant to be an Instagram post but turned out to be waaayyy too long. So now I present to you the first of probably many *blog posts* about diet culture.
#dietculture ➡️ a term flying around social media right now.
EDRDpro (Eating Disorder Registered Dietitians & Professionals) defines it as “a belief system that focuses on and values weight, shape, and size over well-being. Variations of diet culture also include rigid eating patterns that on the surface are in the name of health, but in reality are about weight shape or size.” (This article also offers a great list of what diet culture includes.) - https://edrdpro.com/its-time-to-drop-out-of-diet-culture/
The diet industry makes billions of dollars off of products and services sold through extreme persuasion. We live in a body shape- and size-centered world (& the industry is very aware of this) that will pay high prices to attain a “perfect body,” “beach body,” “lean body,” “slim body,” and the list goes on. Because of this, the majority of society has lost the ability to acknowledge and respond to hunger and fullness cues as well as cravings and food enjoyment largely because we all want to look a certain way. Appearance, which often affects status, has been prioritized over health, wellness, biological needs, and I can’t-not mention biblical commands (I’ll be talking about this in future posts).
Now I 100% believe diets can be useful in some circumstances (related to health conditions or extreme weight concerns) which may sound very contradicting to what I’ve said thus far so let me explain. I read a different article, also written by an RD, explaining that the #antidiet movement could actually be leading us astray. The writer mentions that it concerns her “that [the] foundations of self-compassion and respect are at odds with losing weight.”
She goes on to say, “I’m a balance seeker and a healthy lifestyle enthusiast. I believe in nourishing your body through food and activity, managing stress, meditating, cultivating kindness towards your body and calling a truce with those voices in your head. And I call into question the extremes in the wellness sphere, be it restrictive eating, punitive exercise and more recently, the extremity of the anti-diet movement. Believe your feeds and you’ll think there’s just one way — the anti-diet way — to eat well and feel better in your body. Last I checked, there are multiple paths toward improving your health.” - https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/anti-diet-movement-leading-us-astray-ncna854856
This article provided great insight into a different side of the discussion. She’s not rejecting the fact that disordered eating thoughts and resulting actions should be a concern but she’s also saying that wanting to lose weight doesn’t have to be paired with self-loathing or negative thoughts and actions. I do agree with her that the anti-diet side can often be too far in the opposite direction. I often wonder if I should even use the word “healthy” anymore for fear that I’m falling into diet culture myself. But it’s important to find a balance with this topic.
If someone expresses that they want to lose weight and they believe they’ll feel better, more energetic, and more able if they do so, I don’t think we should make that person feel bad or wrong for that (unless of course losing weight would cause them to be underweight). It is possible for someone to desire weight loss without it being a negative thing. It would require caution and hopefully support from others to ensure that the process itself doesn’t become unhealthy but overall I don’t see anything wrong with that.
The main issue with diet-culture is that is makes EVERYONE feel as though there’s something wrong with their bodies and in turn wrong with them because of it. Many, many people consuming diet-culture everyday and falling for the large, eye-catching click baits do not need to be on a diet or obsessing over weight/food/exercise. If someone wants to feel stronger and/or enjoy the mental & physical health benefits of exercise, I would say to include physical activity into their day, however they enjoy. If they want to adjust what they eat and make changes that result in feeling better and ultimately being healthier, I think that’s awesome! (Once again, all this is under the assumption that disordered thoughts and behaviors don’t arise or are dealt with if they do arise.)
But is a diet always the answer? Absolutely not.
If someone wants to feel healthier or lose a few pounds, maintainable life-long changes such as incorporating movement consistently and LEARNING about nutrition and how it ACTUALLY works will help **long-term** without the need for short “fix-me-ups” and expensive gimmicks. It will help them be healthier without making them feel like a bad person for having chips and cake at times or for not exercising everyday.
I hope this introductory post gave a little peak into my point of view. It’s difficult to say to everything in one blog post but I tried to sum up the basics to get the conversation started.
I'd love for you to comment below if you have any thoughts or questions about this topic ⬇️⬇️ I’d love to see what y’all think! (It’s okay if you don’t agree with me ;))
(Instagram post & feed linked below comments)
**DISCLAIMER: I am not a dietitian, nutritionist, or healthcare professional. Information is solely based on experience and personal research.**