This week I’m talking all about diet culture. What is diet culture? It’s essentially a society and mindset that is centered on weight and size (over your actual health). Is this healthy? No. Is it super common right now? Unfortunately yes.
Society has a gravitation towards “thin” bodies because it’s what we see most in media and on magazine covers. Whenever you see notifications in your email inbox or advertisements for the latest skinny tea or magical vitamin, chances are the words “weight loss” will be in there somewhere to reel you in. How to get a bikini body, how to drop the pounds… these headlines are so common and are associated with “getting healthy.” While there is a lot of progress happening to expand the definition of beauty and less emphasis on the “ideal” body that truly does not exist, so many people worldwide are still get discouraged from the effects of diet culture.
Diet culture essentially ignores science and body diversity. Body-types exist for a reason! Genetics play a major role in how your body responds to nutrition and fitness, as well as different types of fitness. Weight loss has become more marketable than promoting how to maintain authentic emotional and physical health, and positive relationships with food.
Why do you need a positive relationship with food? Because you don’t want to spend your life seeing food as calories. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend calorie counting to anyone, unless istructed by a doctor for health reasons. Seeing food as solely negative or positive for weight loss is not only restricting, but it creates stress and anxiety if you “slip up.”
My motto for food: if you do indulge in something that is low in nutrients, has higher saturated fat than you would like to admit, or is full of empty calories, indulge in moderation. For instance, I probably haven’t had soda in a month, but I had a root beer today while I worked on my website and it was glorious (shoutout to Trader Joe’s for making a more natural formula). I had zero guilt.
While we’re on the topic of guilt, stop referring to food as “guilty pleasures.” Even if it’s a joke between you and your friends, it could be effecting your relationship with food at a deeper level than you think. Peep me eating a cupcake below for my brother’s birthday. A cupcake, yes. It was piña colada flavored.
Diet companies are advertising weight loss in the form of trends, making them more attractive by categorizing them by season or attempting to customize them to you by pulling at your emotional insecurities with body image. The tricky thing is, we’ve become so used to it as consumers that it seems normal. And people feel bad if their bodies don’t meet the margins.
To be clear, I don’t read the magazines or look at celebrities diets they swear by to maintain their figures. I listen to my own body. This is crucial. If one take-away from this post resonates, I would hope that would be it. Focus on what works for you, learn what your body likes and dislikes. I can guarantee that piggy-backing on what works for someone else will frustrate you anyway. If this sounds opposing from what companies and sponsored instagram advertisements have been trying to sell you… good. That’s music to my ears.
A little background on my weight (not weight loss) journey. I had a somewhat negative relationship with fitness up until 2 years ago, given how much cardio I felt I needed to do to be “fit” and skinny. I honestly had no business doing cardio on top of my collegiate tennis training, and I was over-exercising. Yes that happens! I didn’t want to do extra, I just felt that I was more attractive being a lot lighter in weight. No wonder it was hard for me to gain a bum! How much I have learned since then, let me tell you. And I am spending LESS time in the gym.
I’m not saying it’s easy to navigate all the types of fitness or the broad spectrum of healthy diets. I myself am now questioning if I need to make changes for my digestion and gut health, not for a trend or for the goal of weight loss. I just want to live my life feeling good internally, because that is more important to me now, as I’ve jumped through hurdles with my body image in the past.
I sincerely hope this discussion of body image and diet culture either resonated, or has inspired you to look at nutrition and fitness in a more positive light!
Stay bold and confident xx
Check out my Instagram for my recipes, fitness tips, and mental health at k_stateofmind.
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