what is diet culture

What is Diet Culture?

Did you know that you’re living in diet culture? It’s not just you; we ALL live in diet culture. 

If you’re familiar with Intuitive Eating, chances are you’ve probably seen the term “diet culture” tossed around. 

Before using the term “diet culture” across Everglow Nutrition’s social platforms, I want to take the time to answer your FAQ: What is diet culture? 

What is Diet Culture? 

Diet culture is a system of beliefs that praises thinness and values weight, shape, and size over health and well-being. This belief system also: 

  • Promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status
  • Labels certain foods as “good” and other foods as “bad”, linking food choices to moral virtue 
  • Perpetuates fatphobia and fuels eating disorders 

Diet culture goes beyond being on a diet. It’s the messaging that promotes diets, worships thinness, and stigmatizes larger bodies. 

Examples of Diet Culture 

Diet culture is prevalent across large-scale media, amongst conversations with friends, and trickles down to how you talk to yourself. Here are a few examples:

  • Headlines such as, How This Celebrity Lost 50 Pounds or What This Celebrity Every Day 
  • Commercials for weight loss supplements, claiming to help you drop a pant size in 1 week
  • Comments from friends like, “diet starts next week” or “got to get bikini body ready”
  • Foods advertised as “guilt-free” or “clean” 
  • Restaurants with a “Skinny” Menu 
  • Exercise promoted as a means of burning calories 
  • Self-beliefs: believing that you are worthy only once you hit a certain weight 
  • Waiting to buy new clothes until you reach a certain size
  • Eating patterns that rely on counting macros, calories, or points 
  • Comparing what you eat to others, especially when eating out 

What do all these messages have in common? They promote body dissatisfaction, equate health and worthiness to body size, and harm individuals’ relationships with food and body. 

How to Identify and Dismantle Diet Culture

1. Reframe Self-Talk 

With increased awareness, you can start to reframe your inner dialogue. Each time you catch a diet-based thought, filter it through a lens of non-judgment, compassion, and curiosity. Here are some examples: 

  • I should lose weight before my friend’s wedding → (curiosity reframe) → Where is this belief stemming from? 
  • I always eat badly when I go out to eat → (non-judgment reframe) → What I eat does not make me “good” or “bad”. 
  • I should skip lunch because I am going out for dinner → (compassion reframe) → I feel best when I eat adequate meals and snacks throughout the day. 

Write down 3 diet based thoughts that circulate your mind. Apply a positive reframe for each.

2. Censor Your Social Feeds

Although it’s unrealistic to unsee all diet culture, you CAN focus on changing what is in your control. Review your social media feed and unfollow or mute any accounts that trigger negative beliefs about yourself. Think of it as a “spring-cleaning” of your social media accounts! Consider: 

  • How does this account make me feel about myself? 
  • How does it enhance or tarnish my relationship with food and body image? 
  • What messages does my social media feed reflect on me? 

This simple step creates a huge impact! You’re taking an active role in changing your daily narrative–if social media is something that you look at every day. Don’t let your social media plant negative seeds into your subconscious mind anymore. 

3. Discover the Intuitive Way 

You might be thinking: if I’m not dieting…then what? When you let go of diet mentality, external rules no longer govern your every move around food, movement, and life! In return, you are gifted with space and freedom to explore what it looks like to honor your health on your terms. 

Intuitive Eating is a supportive framework for creating a way of eating and living that’s in alignment with your highest self. It’s composed of 10 principles that help you become better attuned with your body, develop body respect, and implement nutrition for the right reasons. Emphasis is placed on the cultivation of health-promoting behaviors versus external measures like weight. 

 You don’t have to take a full swan-dive into intuitive eating today! Instead, dip your toe in the water by selecting 1-2 steps to jump-start your journey. Here are some ideas: 

    • Read the Intuitive Eating Introduction Series on Everglow’s blog. 
    • Contact Rachel about a FREE discovery call. 
    • Get a copy of the Intuitive Eating Book, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. 
    • Listen to a Podcast that supports intuitive eating. My favorite are: 
    • Write your own step. I will listen to my body today by: ___________________________________________________________.

Work With a Non-Diet Dietitian

As a non-diet dietitian, I promote nutrition in a way that honors a healthy relationship with food first. I do my best not to contribute to the noise of diet culture. If you’re looking for individualized support in healing your relationship with food and body, you’re in the right spot. Everglow Nutrition supports Health At Every Size (HAES®), which honors body diversity, weight inclusivity, eating for well-being, and respectful care. Contact me with any questions. 

 

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