SCRATCHING THE SURFACE
DIET CULTURE

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I am annoyed and I’m not sure if I’m right or wrong. Plus: I feel like the topic I’m going to talk about is quite controversial. Today I want to write about diets. Keto, intermitted fasting, low carb and so on… and basically why I think they’re all ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT.

Look, I’ve been there. I’ve dieted to a point in my life where I was very close to being severely anorexic. I struggled a while until I found back to a healthy, relaxed way of eating. I can confidently say, that I’m in an amazing place when it comes to nutrition now. And because of my experience, I see that eating disorders are everywhere. They come in different shapes and forms, some are tiny, some are obvious. But they are all around me. Today I want to talk about the small ones, the ones we cover up as little diets or “improvements”. And I’m not talking about eating balanced or “healthy” here. I’m talking about restrictions.

Restrictive eating is the new norm. But it’s not normal. People not eating until lunch time or past 8pm, people cutting out carbs, people avoiding sugar in any form. I know from experience, that if you go on a diet, your brain and your thoughts will all circle around food. You will develop a twisted picture of your body. And that is toxic. It’s like most of us completely forgot, how intuitive eating works. By that I mean eating when you’re hungry, not overeating, eating what you feel like, giving into your cravings. Basically, just not restricting yourself. 

The troubling thing is, that diets are only temporary solutions to made up problems. Why? Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with our bodies. We all look different, and that’s how it should be. There is no reason to assume that thin means healthy or that fat means unhealthy. But we get brought up that way. Thus, we’ve internalized these harmful beliefs about our bodies, which lead the path to dieting. I am not saying, if you want to loose weight for whatever reason it is necessarily completely wrong, I am not her to police your bodies. But very often, we do it out of the wrong reasons and this is where it gets difficult.

It doesn’t matter which body shape you have, insecurities can develop. One wrong comment, from a partner or even a parent can be traumatising and cause severe issues with body confidence. What is important to acknowledge in the context is that if you don’t have thin privilege (which I for example have) these comments come more often, more harsh and hurtful. We live in a weight-centric, fat phobic society. And this is causing trauma. And I would go so far and say we are traumatised as a society. We are suffering from false body standards and we’re loosing ourselves through it.

Truth is, that the diet industry doesn’t care about our health or our bodies. The diet industry cares about your money, the money you spend on them. On shakes, diet pills, detox teas. And about telling you, that something is wrong with your body. About putting that belief into you, so you will believe and literally buy into a diet product, fail and then do it all again.

You have to find out for yourself if you are actually doing it for you and only you. If you are really honest with yourself. Or if there are other factors (like society, other people) that play into the issue.

There are uncountable layers to diet culture that need to be dismantled and I’m just barely even scratching the surface here. If you are currently on a diet or restrict yourself in any way, I want you to ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Is my relationship with food genuinely healthy? Does eating in public put pressure on me? Am I thinking about food all the time? Am I anxious about gaining weight? Do I feel bad when I eat something I see as unhealthy? If you answer yes to a lot of these questions, you’re in the diet trap. You most likely unlearned eating intuitively. And yes, it’s a journey to get back to eating what you feel like without feeling bad about it.

For me personally, it took time, for various different reasons. What in the end helped me is having people in my life, who showed me that life is about more than your weight. That weight or size doesn’t matter. Also learning to appreciate your body for its functions (being able to travel, go to work, do sports – how amazing is that?!) is key. If you have a body, if you can move it, that is a huge privilege in itself, that we should all acknowledge.

What we need to get rid of is the term body goals. If you see someone on instagram with something you see as a great body, be happy for them. Don’t try to replicate it, it simply won’t work. We are all different. And if someone’s instagram account is making you feel bad about your body, it’s time to unfollow.

On the positive side when it comes to instagram, there are amazing activists who mainly focus on dismantling diet culture you should follow. These are just a few: @madalingiorgietta, @megan_rose _lane, @ashleighchubbybunny or @bodyposipanda. This will literally help you get your mind right again. I’m not an expert on this subject, I can just speak about my personal experience, so I highly recommend you to follow them and to be open minded. There’s a lot of open education out here that can be highly beneficial if you’re someone who struggles with their body image and is jumping from one diet to another.

There are also awesome books you can read like “The fuck it diet” by Caroline Donner, “Just eat it” by Laura Thomas or “Body Positive Power” by Megan Jayne Crabbe.

The most important thing is: Give yourself time to understand. You might think what I’m talking about is absolute BS, but if you go deeper, you will understand that diet culture is toxic for you. And that in the long run, the only option is to do the work and unlearn what you have believed for as long as you can remember.

 
 

by Jana