• Alice Clarke

Intuitive Eating - Rejecting the diet mentality

What does the word diet mean to you? Does it simply mean the type of food you eat, be it a ‘vegetarian diet’ or a ‘dairy-free diet’, or something a little bit more sinister. However, to many of us the word diet implies a form of restrictive eating in order to reach a particular aesthetic goal. Unfortunately, the concept of diet culture is often all around us and being ‘on a diet’ is often the norm in many situations. Diet culture has evolved to be the cornerstone of not only our mainstream and social medias but our healthcare system and cultural ethics.

But why are we so emotionally attached to the concept of dieting? Why are so we so reluctant to admit to ourselves that at best diet culture is unproductive and at worst dangerous? Why are we so willing to throw pay check after pay check at un-researched products simply because the package is branded with ‘healthy’ or ‘weight-loss’? Because everywhere we turn, we are faced with impossible ideals of what we should look like and pressure to force our own bodies to change to fit these.

However, how would you feel if you knew that there was a way to feel healthy, satisfied and positive about yourself and your life whilst ditching the diets that you have become so accustomed to? The concept of ditching diet culture essentially involves moving away from any form of chronic dieting, fad diets and other social pressures surrounding body image to allow you to make room to develop healthier relationships with your body and food.

Not sure if you’ve been caught up in the diet culture whirlwind? Try asking yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to any of them then it is likely that you’ve been exposed to or affected by diet culture.

1. Do you find yourself categorizing foods as clean, good or bad?

2. Do you associate your food choices with your morality as an individual?

3. Do you exercise to compensate for foods that you have eaten?

4. Do you experience feelings of shame when eating foods that you enjoy?

5. Have you ever been on a diet or tracked your calorie intake?

Remember, if you have answered yes to any of these questions do not feel shamed or bad about yourself. Use this as an opportunity to open your eyes to the impact diet culture can have. Having become aware of some of the effects diet culture may have had, the first step to ditching the diets is to attempt to remove yourself from the diet and weight-loss focused messages that are all around. This may be easier said than done but removing external sources of diet culture from your environment, particularly those in the mainstream and social media can aid you in accepting your body in a much more positive, loving way. Identify your own positive values, embrace them and let them thrive, free from the pressure of diet culture and society.

Finally, the most important step in ditching diet culture and embracing yourself for who you are is to understand that the hyper-photoshopped photos of ‘celebrities’ that are constantly in our faces are physically unattainable. Not just for you, but for anyone – at least without surgical intervention anyway! One of the biggest lies that diet culture teaches us is that you will be happy once you reach this illusive body standard.

Think about the things that you could achieve in your life if were able to take a stance and ditch diet culture from your life. What sort of person would you be if you weren’t defined by how many times you went to the gym last week or if you hit all your macros? If this inspires you to become more, then join me on a journey to learn more about healing and improving your relationship with food. But for now, remember to love yourself for who you are and for the amazing things your body does.