Yep. I'm going there.
As someone who coaches people to better themselves through their mindset + daily nutrition habits to improve their health, it feels necessary to have an open conversation about Diet Culture.
The fact is people do crazy, unhealthy, even dangerous diet behaviors in the name of health to lose weight. This isn’t healthy. --(I used to be one of those people)
In this blog, we are going to discuss what Diet Culture is + how we can shift our actions + our mindset to one that empowers us to...
1) Develop a definition of true health, regardless of body shape.
2) Begin to understand that if we have a goal to drop body fat we can do so in a healthy manner while fully accepting ourselves + being anti-diet.
What is Diet Culture exactly?
What comes to term when you think of the word diet?
Maybe you think of weight loss pills, food items labeled low-fat, tummy teas, weight loss shakes, juice cleanses, + eating methods that are overly restrictive to make you lose weight.
Although our culture is becoming more aware of body inclusiveness when it comes to images of health, the out-dated schools of thought regarding restriction + that a thin body is best are still present in our culture.
According to EDRDPRO.com...
Diet culture is a belief system that focuses on and values weight, shape, and size over well-being. Variations of diet culture also include rigid eating patterns that on the surface are in the name of health, but in reality, are about weight shape or size.
Diet culture is really tricky because as we have learned that diets don’t work, they (diet culture) have transformed their message to say that they are all about health. Their definition of health though, is one that is synonymous with weight- that when you lose weight (by any means necessary) then you will be healthier. By restricting your eating and eliminating food groups you will feel better and be happier.
Diet Culture is a culture, especially when it comes to marketing, that feeds off of our feelings of inadequacy and/or assumptions that a large person is unhealthy based on looks alone.
The fact is, marketing (of all kinds) feeds off of our insecurities + what society tells us beauty is. It is driven by preconceived notions that larger=bad + thinner=good. It often leaves us with distorted views + questioning our worth due to our body image.
Simply put, marketing companies make MONEY by playing off of people's insecurities + assumptions of what a healthy body is.
Diet Culture is dangerous + harms people of all sizes, including perpetuating eating disorders + making a full recovery nearly impossible if these individuals allow themselves to be victims of these ideals.
I think it is extremely valuable to love and accept yourself regardless of your current size.
After all, self-acceptance is the precursor to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the long-term. More about that in a bit...
What IS a healthy body?
Because I've worked with many different people of all shapes, sizes + lifestyles a few things to me have become true. True health is so much more than what we are eating (or aren't eating). Much of health has to do with our quality of life, what we are thinking + the level of personal responsibility we are willing to take to live a better life.
Let's talk about modern medical assessments to define health. In the past, a healthy level of body fat was measured by body weight or BMI (body mass index) which determines a person's health based on their height + weight. This outdated method only gives us a snapshot since it is measuring the size of the body but fails to tell us what the body is made of.
Diet Culture can also be present within our health care systems. Some doctors that assume larger patients are not healthy solely based on the way a patient's body looks and/or their BMI alone. Some doctors also believe that thinner patients are healthy solely based on their looks + BMI.
So how do we get a better picture of what's happening inside to determine health?
We can start by testing body composition which includes details about the amount of fat, protein, minerals, and body water inside of the body.