One of the biggest things I have noticed in my recovery is the presence of diet culture in the world. Diet culture is more than someone being on a diet. The best definition I could find is “Diet culture is a set of beliefs revolving around the idea that “thin” bodies are the most desirable, valuable, and “healthy.” Diet culture also conveys that eating a certain way is “good” or “bad” – and that a person’s worth increases when eating “healthy,” or when living in a small body.”
Once you notice diet culture in our world, you realize just how prevalent it is. Everywhere I turn there is an ad for a new diet, or someone making a comment about how eating a certain food is bad and they should punish themselves. I’d love to shed some light on the biggest myths surrounding diet culture.
Myth #1: Thin is better
Everyone knows that society prefers thin people. The media has been pushing unrealistic standards for women for as long as the media has existed. We are making progress, but there is still so much work to be done. You are worthy, no matter what size your body is. Your body will grow and shrink throughout your life, but your worth will never change. I have recently become passionate about “Health At Every Size” or “HAES”. HAES celebrates all bodies from all backgrounds, and focuses on the idea that someone can be healthy or unhealthy at every size. Thinner bodies are not always healthy and bigger bodies are not always unhealthy. Celebrate where your body is at.
Myth #2: Sweets, Carbs, and Fats are bad
Timberline Knolls is focused on the idea that all foods fit. There are no bad foods or good foods, food is just food. This might be one of the most common lies that diet culture pushes (and probably the one that annoys me the most). Here’s the truth: your body receives necessary nutrients from EVERY FOOD YOU EAT. Take bread for example. Many diets recommend cutting out bread because it is high in carbs. Did you know that fruits have carbs too? The bottom line is your body doesn’t see food as bread or a banana. Your body sees it as a carbohydrate and is excited to use it as fuel. Carbohydrates are necessary for survival. Fats are necessary for survival. Even sugar is necessary for survival. Don’t fall into the trap that food is bad. Or even worse, never think that you are bad for eating something. Never apologize for fueling your body.
Myth #3: Diets work!
Any food plan where you intentionally avoid certain foods is a diet. (Of course I’m not talking about food allergies.) Avoiding sugar, cutting carbs, and counting calories are all forms of dieting. And they are all harmful. Aside from restricting your body of vital nutrients, diets can have a negative affect on your mental health. I have seen so many people make themselves absolutely miserable just to lose a few pounds. Did you know that avoiding your body’s natural cravings make them worse? If you intentionally deprive your body of your favorite dessert, that makes the craving louder. Instead, eat what your body is craving and go on with your day. If diets were so successful, then they would work on the first try. There would be no need to jump on the new diet craze because it would’ve worked the first time.
I decided this post was relevant now more than ever with the amount of “Quarantine 15” posts I’ve seen. What seems like a harmless joke to some can be incredibly triggering for those in recovery. We are in a global pandemic. Gaining a few pounds is the last thing we should be worrying about. If you gain weight during quarantine, you gain weight during quarantine. That’s it. Our bodies naturally shift throughout our lives, and that’s ok. Society has brainwashed us into believing that weight gain is bad. Your ideal body weight is whatever number you are at when you are living your must fulfilled, happiest life. Why are you letting a diet decide when that is?
I could go on and on about the lies diet culture feeds us. Just because diet culture is everywhere, doesn’t mean you have to be a part of it. I used to be a slave to diet culture and it got me nowhere. Since breaking up with diet culture, yeah, I gained weight. But, I also gained confidence, freedom, and joy. I gained a life worth living, and that was worth every pound. I am worthy because of who I am as a person, and that has nothing to do with my appearance. I’m choosing to stay AT LEAST 6 feet away from anything that tries to tell me otherwise. And I hope you do too.