How To Find Food Freedom During Lockdown 

 April 22, 2020

By  jennifer@thinkingnutrition.co.nz

“Many a truth is said in jest”

I wonder if in hundreds of years time, historians will look back at the COVID-19 lockdowns, and ask each other – “Why so many memes about getting fat?”

Topics range from – eating too much, to gaining weight, getting fat, or even being unable to fit out the door after lockdown.

Then someone out there in cyberspace creates memes about it.

Next thing you know, it’s popping up on Facebook, in Messenger, or even in your Whatsapp group chat.

But you know what they say?

“Many a truth is said in jest.”

And judging by the number of memes (spreading faster than COVID-19), weight gain and out of control eating is a real worry for many people during lockdown.

So what’s the solution? Find yourself a big dose of food freedom right now with these insights and tips….

1. COVID Fat Memes Are Diet Culture in Action

So what the heck is diet culture? And why should we care about it?

“Diet culture is a system of beliefs that: Worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue. This means you can spend your whole life thinking you’re irreparably broken just because you don’t look like the impossibly thin “ideal,” according to Christy Harrison from the Food Psych Podcast.

BIG POINT RIGHT HERE: You don’t have to be “on a diet” to be caught up in diet culture. It’s simply buying into, and living by, the unwritten rules of diet culture.

Rules that, being thinner will get you more approval and acceptance in your social circles. So you feel compelled to keep pursuing weight loss (even after years or decades) of failed diets). Or put a lot of time and energy into ensuring you don’t accidentally gain weight.

Diet culture demonises different ways of eating too. Right now keto diets and whole food eating is the pinnacle of “diet culture success” (last year it was paleo eating, sorry Pete, sooo yesterday). If you’re eating a doughnut, then you’re a doofus, according to diet culture. “Eating bread?! What the heck is wrong with you?!” (that was diet culture too).

The thing is – you don’t need to buy into diet culture. It’s not compulsory. You won’t be de-registered as a human if you ditch diet culture. You can literally still eat your doughnut and qualify as a lovely human being.

You can also – delete the memes, ignore the posts of flat abs and green smoothies, say no to the press-up challenge, and decline to join your friends on a new diet.

SOLUTION: See diet culture for what it is and remove it from your life to the best of your ability – any image, message, comment, post that makes you feel bad about your body image and eating habits is probably dubious, and quite possibly diet culture in action. Ignore, delete, unsubscribe – remove diet culture from your life, to the best of your ability.

Instead follow and subscribe to pages, people and companies that honour food freedom and body freedom. You’ll recognise them, because they:

  • Encourage you to live a healthy AND happy life,
  • Honour different body sizes and shapes,
  • Inspire you to explore different eating styles and your own food likes and dislikes
  • Encourage you to have compassion for yourself and be kind to yourself (hello?!)
  • And never, never, never focus on your body weight.

P.S. Here are 9 things I wish I’d known about diet culture, a lonnnng time ago!

2. Reject Diet Culture’s Food Judgement – All Foods Are Equal

Diet culture has a set of rules about which foods are ‘good’ and which foods are ‘bad’.

Obviously the diet rule is: you eat the ‘good’ ones and don’t eat the ‘bad ones.

It gets kinda confusing though, when diet culture keeps changing the rules.

Bananas used to be ‘good’, but now if you put one in your kid’s lunchbox you’re basically killing them, says diet culture.

You try to keep up with the rules, but you’re never quite sure – are straight leg pants still in fashion? Whoops, I mean are berries still ‘good’?

READ THIS TRUTH  – There are no good or bad foods. Any food can be part of a healthy and nourishing lifestyle, because one food is just one small part of what you eat.

If my clients were here, they’d tell you how often I use candy floss as an example (Sorry! Here I go again!).

Candy floss is made from sugar. No particular nutrients of any kind to mention. Very bad on the bad scale according to diet culture.

Look, if you were starving and wandering through a Saharan desert and for some inexplicable reason found a bag of candyfloss – would you eat it?

Or would you say no to the candyfloss, even though you’re starving, because it’s ‘bad’?

The most logical and healthy decision would be to eat the candyfloss. It provides energy. It could save your life.

But the truth is, you can eat the candyfloss at a local theme park too if you want. It is, after all, only one food decision in the literal thousands that you’ll make this year.

This is the ultimate lesson on the path to food freedom – you can never have food freedom, unless you stop falsely judging foods.

SOLUTION: Stop labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’. There is no such thing. All foods can be part of a healthful lifestyle, it’s about you deciding how to combine more nutritious foods with those fun ‘play’ foods to create an eating style that works for you.

P.S. Discover 5 signs your mindset is sabotaging your eating here.

3. Reject Diet Culture’s Food Portions – Instead Honour Your Hunger and Fullness

Only half a cup of berries! One tablespoon of honey in the smoothie! 10 almonds for a snack!

How does diet culture know exactly how much energy and nutrients you need for your body, your metabolism, your physical exertion levels, and your specific medical and health needs?

Diet culture doesn’t know. It doesn’t have a clue. But it likes to fool people into believing it does.

READ THIS TRUTH – Your body is designed to guide your eating with inbuilt hunger and fullness cues. All you need to do is listen to them and honour them.

Yes really. You did it when you were a baby, even before you read your first diet book. Funny that?!

And you can do it now. Put down the diet book and the measuring cups (and the kitchen scales too!). Say hello to food freedom!

SOLUTION: Learn to recognise and honour your hunger and fullness cues. Hunger is that grumbly rumbly tummy sometimes, and other times its the feeling of being tired and lethargic, a small headache maybe – discover for yourself what your hunger feels like. Aim to eat when you feel comfortably hungry (not ravenous). And fullness comes on slowly, if you eat slowly you’ll catch it coming and can stop eating at around the comfortable point.

4. If You’re Overeating – Focus On Fixing The ‘Real’ Cause

If you’re overeating during lockdown – you’re not alone.

Diet culture will tell you it’s a big deal. But it’s really not a big deal. This is a small blip in your overall life of years and years.

You can’t ‘break’ your body or yourself in a few short weeks or months.

SOLUTION: Focus on finding the cause of your overeating and address the cause. Overeating is almost always a sign of SOMETHING ELSE. So what is the SOMETHING ELSE?

Take a look at this Quick Guide: How To Stop Overeating During Lockdown for some ideas and you’ll be on the path to food freedom.

5. Reject Diet Culture’s Weight Obsession – Be Kind To Your Body

Diet culture is all up in your face about your weight – “You gained 1 kilogram! 2 kilograms? 3 kilograms?!” (swap in pounds if you’re non-metric)

Seriously. I can gain 1lb by drinking some water and being premenstrual. Whatcha going to do about that diet culture?!

Next minute, I’ll pee and have my monthly and the 1kg is gone.

Other times I eat a lot of rich food and gain a bit of weight. Does it matter though?

If I honour my hunger and fullness, and eat in a full and varied that honours my health and happiness it’ll all even out in the end.

And ultimately, what is more important? Eating in a way that is enjoyable, healthful and sustainable? Or being 2-3kg lighter?

I know which I’d rather pick… only diet culture would encourage you to choose the latter.

So be kind to you, yes you feel the pull to hammer down on yourself to stay in shape and not gain weight right now. But that’s diet culture whispering in your ear.

SOLUTION: Ignore diet culture’s obsession with your body weight. What really matters is, are you happy and healthy? And yes, you can be healthy at EVERY size!

I hope and pray this post gives you something positive to think about in whatever stage of lockdown you’re in.

All around the world, we’re united in our fight against COVID-19. So let’s not allow diet culture to add more pressure and anxiety to an already difficult time.

Jennifer xo.

P.S. Grab this ultimate guide with a pile of solutions for overeating – you’ve got this!




Hey, I’m Jennifer. I help women transform their relationship with food, their body and weight, so they can ditch the guilt and shame, and focus on more important stuff - like living a happy and healthy life!

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