With the new year beginning, diet culture is running more rampant than during any other time of year. Diet culture is the sneaky way health and wellness culture disguises restrictive and obsessive diet and fitness trends that, more often than not, lead to eating disorders, disordered eating, and negative body image.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association’s (NEDA) “Collegiate Survey Project,” 35% of “normal” dieters will progress to pathological dieting, and 20-25% of those within that group will develop some type of eating disorder shortly after.
Instead of a rigid set of rules that encourages disordered eating, it is important to cultivate a healthy relationship with food, yourself, and your body.
Recognizing Diet Culture
In combating diet culture, it is essential to be aware of what it looks and sounds like. You can recognize a harmful diet when you come across one that promises to “work” by changing your body. Programs requiring you to count calories or cut food groups can also be problematic.
Attributes of diet culture can also be detected in the self-talk and stories society perpetuate. Some include claiming that, “If my body looks a different way, then I will be worthy.” Diet culture can lead to you feeling like you are never content with yourself and your body no matter what you do. You may have low self-esteem rooted in the principles of diet culture beliefs of changing yourself or your body before you can feel good in your skin.
Food and Body Neutrality
Food and your body have no moral value, although diet culture says otherwise.
In beginning to combat diet culture, it is important to take note of the rules you have around food. You need to start challenging these rules and break them when you feel ready. In the practice of body neutrality, you could begin to view your body as something that is neither good nor bad but an instrument that allows you to exist.
Movement for Joy
Movement can encourage health or deter you from it. Challenging diet culture when it comes to movement might include discovering your intention behind each movement and shifting that intention to one of moving for joy instead of shame and guilt. Finding ways of moving your body that allow you to feel good to be in your body — while honoring your body’s need for rest and gentle movement — can help you practice more peaceful activities rather than force yourself through high-intensity ones.
If diet culture has been looming over you for as long as you can remember, unlearning the ways that it has dictated your relationship with food and your body can feel impossible. Permit yourself to go at your own pace and know that freedom is possible. Step one to finding freedom from the harmful effects of diet culture is to practice doing the opposite of what diet culture says to pursue true wellness and take your power back.
Beginning a healing journey might include looking at your relationships with food, movement, and your body. This is especially true if you are recovering from an eating disorder or disordered eating. At Avalon Malibu, we support you as you explore new ways to connect with food, movement, and your body. This new way of thinking will encourage your recovery and ideally lead to positive self-beliefs, self-acceptance, and unconditional, favorable self-regard. If you are struggling and ready to discover your authentic self, call us at (844) 857-5992.