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The Truth About How Diet Culture Is Hurting You 

 August 11, 2020

By  jennifer@thinkingnutrition.co.nz

You’ve had enough of diet culture; the fad diets and detoxes. The quick fixes that don’t work and leave you feeling like a failure.

You’re ready to lose the weight of judgement from others about your size and shape.

“I’m going to love myself whatever size and shape I am, I don’t care what they think anymore,” you tell yourself.

But somehow, some way, you’re still left struggling to accept your body at THIS size, or your stomach with THIS extra roll… Why?

You know diet culture sucks. You know it’s a lie.

But somehow, you just can’t shake off the feelings about your body, that it needs fixing, that it’s not good enough, that it’d be better if it was thinner here, if your stomach was flatter. If you were eating better, all would be better.

Why do we get stuck in this cycle of never-ending disappointment when it comes to our body?

Diet culture hurts deeply, so we must heal deeply

#1 Diet Culture Has Seeped Deep Into Your Inner Being

Diet culture is not a surface level problem in our lives:

  • Stop dieting and the problem is solved? Nope.
  • Don’t follow fad diets on Facebook and then you’ll be all good? No.
  • Get rid of your bathroom scales and then you’ll be better? Still no.
  • Chant some positive body mantras to yourself and then you’ll for sure fix it? Ah, still no.

While all those steps will help us in the long run, they’re not going to fix the messages you’ve soaked in deep down in your soul, into what anthropologists call your “worldview”.

#2 Your ‘Worldview’ Might Still Be Laden With Diet Culture

Your worldviews are a whole bunch of assumptions and frameworks you build about life, without realising it. Like how you know to join the end of a line when queuing at the bank. Or you know that in a classroom the teacher is the one standing up the front by the board. Or that doors are long things that reach the ground, that’s why you don’t try to climb through a window to enter a room (you don’t right?).

The thing is, diet culture is stuffed down inside you too, along with all that information about how to live in your world. And yes you’ve changed some of your behaviours (like not dieting anymore), but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve cleaned out the underlying beliefs that lead you to dieting in the first place.

It’s kind of like when you vacuum a rug and you think you’ve cleaned it really well. But then you take the rug outside and give it a good shake, or whack it with a broom and MORE dust and stuff comes out. You wonder where the heck it all came from and why the vacuum didn’t get it all.

Am I likening you to a dusty carpet? Well, yes a little my friend. But we’re going to get rid of that diet culture stuff that’s sucken in deep inside you, and freshen you up as good as new!

#3 How To Deep-Clean Diet Culture From Your Life

If you’re going to truly get rid of diet culture and all it’s nasty influences (i.e. telling you what size your body should be and what to eat etc), then you need to do a little excavation work and get rid of those worldviews still lurking inside that support diet culture. Here are a few tips to get you going:

a) Change how you think about body weight and what you believe to be true

It’s possible that deep down you still believe that to be thin is to be healthier than being fat. This may sit as a “truth” deep inside you. One you uncomfortably can’t ignore. And so while you try to ignore diet culture and stop dieting and eat intuitively and love your body…. but, there’s a deep-seated uneasiness that still comes from believing you are ‘unhealthy’ as long as you are bigger.

If this is the case – then it’s time to do some reading to weed out this lie. The Health At Every Size movement (HAES) has some fantastic resources that show and prove that health is not purely centred around body size.

You know people that are thin and eat a rubbish diet and never exercise right? It’s a fact. Body size is not an accurate indicator of health. End of.

Do some reading, then some more reading, follow instagram and facebook accounts that share information and research on this (the official Intuitive Eating facebook account is a great one) to grow your knowledge and slowly change this view you hold that fat equates to unhealthy.

In this post I reveal 6 lessons I learnt after hating my body, and that includes the fact that HAES should be our goal.

b) Transform what you feel a beautiful body looks like

Do you feel like a beautiful body is slim and toned? That to be fat, chubby and have large rolls of curvy fat is not beautiful?

The thing is, the ideal thin body is a westernised cultural thing. In many African countries thin bodies are UNDESIRABLE. Instead they desire larger bodies.

To have a thin body is to fail, for them.

So you believe that thin is beautiful, because you’ve been taught it over and over again growing up by all the societal messages you’ve received.

In Africa they believe fat bodies are beautiful, because that’s the messages they’re heard and received growing up.

The more you can input different messages into your brain and life that counter those cultural messages about ‘thin is beautiful’ the more you can challenge and change your worldview that thin is beautiful.

Do it by avoiding thin glorification in media and by other people. Read and view books, social media posts and movies from other cultures where thin bodies are not glorified. And maybe one day (when COVID isn’t rampaging the world), you can travel too and see firsthand what non-thin-obsessed cultures look like first hand.

If you want some more help, check out this post on How To Find Peace With Your Weight.

c) Ditch your old ideas about what is a moral and good way to eat and live

It goes without saying that when you overeat you feel guilty and shame. There’s a real sense of failure in feeling like you don’t have control of your own eating habits. To be a ‘glutton’ is to ‘fail’.

The clean eating trend REALLY dialled into this whole aspect of our thoughts. By labelling foods as ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ it encouraged followers to continually make moral judgements about their eating on a day-by-day, indeed meal-by-meal basis.

The truth is – there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. And there is no good or bad way to eat.

Thinking about food and eating in this black and white, moralistic way is an accident waiting to happen. I can guarantee you, if you keep thinking like that you will fail to meet your unattainable standards. None of us is perfect (‘cept for Jesus, amen).

Instead look for the shades of grey in everything.

Stop using the words good, bad, healthy and unhealthy to describe food or eating for yourself, or anyone else. Trust me, it will be challenging. And if it is, then you know you are doing a good work inside yourself by retraining that old black and white thinking.

Just to wrap up, I don’t mean to suggest that it’s easy to change your worldview and delete all that crappy old diet culture stuff from your soul. It’s not easy. If it was, I wouldn’t be here writing this blog post.

The truth of the matter is, that we need to actually change our culture too – and changing our views, one person at a time is an important part of that. If you can change your views, and bring up your daughters and sons to have a different worldview that isn’t based on diet culture type thinking, then you’re helping the movement move forward.

Jennifer xo.

P.S. And if you truly want more help in moving forward, check out my online intuitive eating programme, I’d love to help you!

 

 

jennifer@thinkingnutrition.co.nz


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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