Today I am thrilled to be featuring a very special guest post from up and coming Canadian dietitian Rebecca Livingstone.
Coming off the back of my HAES articles, which proved to both myself and my readers that I still have a lot of room to learn and grow, this article could not have come at a better time.
7 Ways to Reduce your Exposure to Diet Culture
By Rebecca Livingtone RD
Diet culture impacts the attitudes we hold towards our bodies, our food and our self-worth. In this current day, diet culture has snuck around under the guise of “wellness”, which burrs the line between eating for health versus eating for vanity.
What is Diet Culture?
It’s more than likely that you encounter some form of diet culture on a daily basis. However, because our world has become so jam-packed with diet culture messages we have become desensitized to them.
Diet culture is a system of beliefs that places thinness on a pedestal and equates it to health and moral goodness. Diet culture promotes weight loss as a means of attaining a higher status, causing many people to squander massive amounts of time, energy and money in an effort to shrink their bodies (despite the fact that we’ve yet to discover a method which is safe and effective as a means for permanent weight loss). Diet culture belittles a certain way of eating and raises up others, causing people to feel anxious and uncertain about how, when and what to eat.
Diet culture sells the seductive idea that weight loss will mean happiness, confidence and a new start to life. Unfortunately, these are empty promises; the only thing weight loss guarantees are smaller clothes.
I hope that one day we can wave goodbye to this nonsense, and overcome this preferential treatment for smaller bodies. Today I share my advice on how to lessen the impact of diet culture in your life by minimizing your daily exposure and suggesting steps on how to counter this toxic messaging.
1. Stop buying magazines
With tips and tricks on “how to look hot naked”, “how to cut calories in your coffee drink order” and “how to contour” (a.k.a. make your face look skinny) I’d say magazines have to be one of the major sources of diet culture messaging.
2.Unfollow social media #fitspo pages
When we choose to play the comparison game, no one wins. Following pages or influencers that make you feel bad about your body does not serve you. You’ve essentially compiled a collection of examples of the “ideal body” as per societies standards, which is going to make you think that everyone else is doing it right and you’re somehow doing it wrong. #unfollow.
3. Stop engaging in diet talk
You know, that chit chat about what so-and-so has eliminated from their diet and how they feel SOOO GOOD. Why do we do this? This can’t honestly make anyone feel good unless you’re the person getting the empty praises for being a diet martyr. Politely ask for the subject to be changed. Try for example: “do you mind if we talk about something else? I just don’t like diet talk.”
4. Get angry at diet jokes
I cringe when I see jokes about how everyone chooses pizza and sweatpants over the gym and a salad. Since when was there an ultimatum? It’s perfectly normal to eat more on one day, and less on another. This is absolutely human. Jokes like this normalize diet cycling and the black and white, all or nothing mentality. Don’t share these when you see them.
5. Don’t buy or keep smaller sized clothes as a “goal”
How horrible is it wearing something too small or too big? Please don’t do this. How are you supposed to stop thinking about your waist size if your pants are continuously physically reminding you? Get yourself a new pair of pants which fit your body.
6. Accept that weight loss may not change your life after all.
The marketing mavens selling weight loss programs and supplements all promise that once you just lose those lbs, all your dreams will come true. We need to let go of the idea that weight loss will change our lives. A heartbreaker for many.
7. Recognize that having a thin body and being healthy is definitely not the same thing.
This is where the line between health and size is getting confusing for the public. Many people achieve thin bodies through very unhealthy means such as sickness, cancer, famine, disordered eating or over-exercising. Far few people naturally possess the body identified as the “ideal”. Many people in larger bodies are very healthy, active and eat nutritious diets. Have you caught yourself making these assumptions before?
The bottom line?
Diet culture doesn’t serve us. The messaging that you aren’t good enough unless you are a certain size decreases our self-worth and contributes to our deteriorating relationship with food. Health is more than your size and you are more than your size. Perhaps what we really need to lose is the exposure to diet culture messaging so we can get back on our own path to health and happiness.
Rebecca Livingstone RD | FoodsAndThoughts.com