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Ditching Diet Culture

By: Lydia Norman - Dietetic Intern with Emory University

It’s the beginning of a new year and if you’re anything like me or the majority of people, you’re probably in the “New Year, New Me” mindset. For most people, this means making changes or resolutions that are often aimed towards incorporating new habits, exercising more, and the big kahunaweight loss. Today, I’m here to tell you to ditch the diet culture that makes you feel like you need to change yourself to fit a standard or be like anyone else.

Diet culture refers to ideals that are based off of a certain body type or size and are commonly perceived as goals. Not only are thinner body types idealized, but they are prioritized as being significantly more important than health and wellness.

Diet culture can create:

  • fixation on having a specific type of body figure
  • obsession with the number on the scale
  • negative self-perception if in a larger body
  • disordered eating patterns or unhealthy relationship with food

Working tirelessly to achieve the ideal body type with no consideration of individual nutrition needs may not only be destructive psychologically, but also physiologically.

Diet culture is so implicitly intertwined in our society’s culture. Reflect on the following examples, to encourage a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle:

  • Assigning morality to food: This means you view certain foods, typically foods lower in calories or higher in nutrients, as good, and viewing nutrient-poor foods typically such as desserts, pre-packaged snacks, and fast food as In turn, you may consider yourself good or bad after consumption creating food fear.
  • Feeling guilt or shame with eating certain foods. This can be associated with eating bad foods or eating a larger amount of a food than you view as appropriate. I don’t know about you, but I have too many other things on my plate to be mad at myself for what I eat.
  • Exercising to burn off enough calories to justify or “deserve” to eat certain types or amounts of food. Exercise is excellent at improving and maintaining overall health, but it is not intended to be used to help anyone “earn” calories or food. Everyone deserves food, regardless of how much they exercise, because food is what fuels our bodies to be able to do the things we love!
  • Detox teas. Detox teas are a method commonly endorsed as quick-fix for weight-loss. They are often promoted on the social media pages of celebrities and influencers. Let’s be honest, detox teas are typically not only awful tasting, but they’re also expensive! Who wants to pay for a product that does not work like advertised, or taste good? I think I’ll save money for drinks I actually enjoy.
  • Creating unrealistic weight-loss goals. This is primary consequence of diet culture. 1200 calories diet enters the chat. I’m not sure how 1200 calories is the amount that was deemed to be a “magic number” for weight-loss, but whoever decided that neglected to mention that 1200 calories is the amount of calories recommended for a toddler to eat.

With all of that being said, always take into account that you are you, therefore there is no need to try to become like anyone else. And if you decide you want to make a New Year’s resolution to exercise more, I say: hit the ground running, and just do it for the right reasons!

Well, thank you for joining my dish session, that’s all the tea I have for now!

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