You may have heard about this thing called diet culture. But what it is and who does it affect?
How do you know if you’re stuck in the Diet culture con?
What is the current diet definition?
The diet definition is currently “Diet is the sum of food consumed by a person” however in current terms this is far far from the truth. Your diet is what you eat when you eat and how you eat. Your diet is part of your identity, your value system and your cultural group.
But most importantly we all know a diet is eating as a way to lose weight.
The pervasiveness of diet culture
Look around you, pay attention to the messages we receive in advertising and all around us. The messages we receive in advertising remind us we are too fat, too old, too uncultured and too ugly to ever be worthy, happy or loveable.
These subliminal messages sell to our insecurities, selling a fake promise and a fake ideal. These promises are sleazy at best and manipulative at worst.
But don’t worry if you buy this lipstick you will be happy and not only look exactly like this model on the cover, but live her perfect, happy fulfilled life.
In the health and fitness industry
The health and fitness industry push fear of fat and that fitness can only come in one shape or size. Fitness is often shown as only one size, one look, one aesthetic.
We are encouraged to believe that our bodies need to be shrunk, calories need to be burnt and we need to earn our food.
Do you notice that there are the times of the year when health and fitness advertising really ramp up?
There are the New years, New you, Summer’ is coming bikini body, and finally, summer bodies are made in winter. What we will start to see more of is shame-based advertising, before and after’s and an increase in short-term solutions.
The health, fitness and wellness industry is growing at a rapid rate and with it grows the message that we should forever be on a diet and always be trying to be smaller.
The diet industry
Diets, fad diets, crash diets have been sold and re-sold in pretty packaging over and over again.
A friend said to me the other day, isn’t Keto just Atkins rebranded. The diet industry is worth 60 billion US annually studies show that within 5 years most dieters re-gain weight up to 115% of the weight they lost.
Crash dieting is not sustainable long term, your body will reject the reduced caloric intake and instead try to hold onto every bit of food you have ingested as fat. The body is smart, if it thinks you are starving it, it will go into starvation mode to ensure you don’t die. Therefore the willpower and punishment you are putting yourself through may result in nothing or even worse weight gain.
It is not us who is broken but the dieting industry,
The tides are turning and now it uncool to diet. The language has changed from dieting, diets and weight loss to health, clean eating and wellness.
In 2016 Weight watchers basically went bankrupt because they failed to keep up with consumers who got sick of being told they are not enough. Now weight watchers have re-launched with a sparkly new wording and packaging but underneath it’s the same old counting calories.
The weight loss industry has now rebranded as the ‘wellness industry’ with a focus on clean eating and avoiding devils like sugar and gluten.
5 signs you may actually be trapped in diet culture
1. You focus on restriction or elimination. You are encouraged to cut out certain foods, reduce portion sizes, moderate and modify your daily intake. You may be recording everything you eat for review or eliminating foods at certain times, no carbs at night, only reduced fat dairy.
2. It’s short-term, you couldn’t see yourself doing it for the rest of your life. If you really loved chocolate are you not going to eat chocolate forever. It’s not sustainable, you are always thinking about the future when you can get back to eating what you really want to.
3. Diet culture It pits one food group against another. Fat is great and carbs are the devil. Sugar is the devil and clean foods are the only way forward. Carbs are evil.
4. It forces you to think about food all the time. At every meal, you are in a state of anxiety as you are weighing up the options and asking the waiter to put everything on the side. Food is no longer enjoyable. Food is stressful and anxiety provoking.
5. It uses terms like – lifestyle overhaul, results driven, transform your body, beach body, new you, challenge, detox.
So if you are going to jump off the bandwagon and ditch diet culture then what?
So maybe you are fianlly done with the diet bandwagon, the weight gain and weight loss and wieght gain. The food anxiety, the fear of fat and the obsession of every.single.bite.
The first step is to recognize the pervasiveness of dieting and diet culture. It is in our daily lives every single day and every single second. Some people are able to completely let go of these pressures and fear of gaining weight and find solitude with where the body sits when we stop dieting. Other’s very understandably are unable to find peace.
Here are some important strategies you can take to make an informed decision about your health and fitness.
- Learn more about intuitive eating, is a type of eating that supports you to pay attention to your internal cues. It is about reducing mindless eating and pay attention to your hunger signals and eating until your full. It can be challenging to being with but there are a number of books and groups which offer support around this.
- Understand the serious impacts of dieting on our bodies. Weight cycling increases the likelihood of weight gain post dieting. Dieting is the number one indicator of the development of an eating disorder. Disordered eating habits can lead to anxiety, OCD and depression. All of these consequences need to be weighed up when deciding the next path to take with your health.
- Celebrate body diversity. Fill your social media with men and women of all shapes and sizes and recognize that beauty comes in all shapes and forms, not just one size.
And finally find a coach, therapist, mentor, group to work with and guide you through the process of celebration of your body and your own unique worthiness.