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The 3 Biggest Crimes of Diet Culture

How many times have you overheard a heated conversation about food or the latest diet?

When I meet up with friends or family, the talk often ends up routed into diet gossip. This makes sense considering I’m a Registered Dietitian, yet my intuitive eating clients share similar stories.

I’ve spent the last 7 years of my career helping clients bury the diet mentality for good, yet I’m reminded how much work there is to do when people ask me questions like, “What do you think about that new diet that [insert celebrity name here] just published a book about?”

The worst part of Diet Culture (or more aptly, Diet Cult) is the potential harm to everyone involved. Diet culture is a system of beliefs that focuses on and values weight, shape and size over health, and it equate thinness with higher status and worthiness. The negative effects it has on both adults and children are criminal. Many times, these so called “healthy” diets are considered disordered eating or even full-blown eating disorders.

I am here today to call out the CRIMES OF DIET CULTURE.

Crime #1: Dishonesty

“Don’t eat carbs. They make you fat.”

“Dairy will keep you from losing weight.”

“Avoid gluten! It’s bad, bad, bad.”

When you look back at the history of food, Diet Culture has spent a great deal of time and money into criminalizing one food or another. This food is “good” for your health and weight, this food is “bad”.

When saturated fat was the offender, we saw an influx of fat-free, chemically altered foods. When sugar became the offender, we were bombarded with products containing sugar alcohols and messages to avoid sugar at all costs. Food fads are encouraged by Diet Culture with the support of the food industry. When scientific research is published, Diet Culture cherry-picks the information that best supports their agenda and launches campaigns to herd consumers to jump on their bandwagon, spending money on their products, lining their pockets.

Diet Culture never has your best interest in mind and it’s betting on the fact you don’t realize it. So they call their foods “healthier” than the others and has you thinking it’s better for you.

Crime #2: Disregard

Any eating pattern that emphasizes how you look over your mental and physical well-being is detrimental. Diet Culture thrives on black-and-white thinking. Eat foods on the “good” list and you’ll lose weight (“good”); eat foods on the “bad” list and you’ll get fat (“bad”). Thin = win!

Here’s the thing – people are literally dying to be thin and Diet Culture completely disregards this. Your body does so many amazing things for you every day, but Diet Culture has you focusing on how many calories you’re eating, pounds you lost or dress size you wear.

There is peace in accepting your body as it is at this very moment. But Diet Culture doesn’t want you to have this peace. So it influences you to keep striving for that “perfect” body, comparing yourself to celebrities, models and reality stars.

I remind my clients that what they see online and in magazines are not real. They are photoshopped images and even more, they are just the highlight reels of peoples’ lives. What they decide to post and publish are just snippets of their reality, particularly the snippets they want everyone to see. They edit out nearly a lifetime of moments, yet you use those carefully selected highlights as a comparison to your own life. This is exactly what Diet Culture wants – to keep you running back for more.

Crime #3: Destruction

Diet Culture’s most egregious crime is telling you that you’re not good enough. It doesn’t know you at all, but it’s making you question yourself, often calling attention to things you never considered flaws.

“Got a muffin top? Never eat these 5 foods again to get rid of it!”

“Do your thighs touch? Do this cleanse to fix that problem!”

Messages like these are toxic to women of all ages. It’s teaching them from a young age that they are nothing more than a sum of their parts and if those parts don’t add up to an unrealistic ideal, they need to do whatever it takes to get there. This has the potential to lead them into a dangerous relationship with food and exercise, twisting their self-perception. Diet Culture destroys self-esteem.

It’s Time to Defy Diet Culture

The truth is that body size doesn’t always equate with health. There are plenty of people who are in smaller bodies who have a plethora of health issues. On the flip side, there are people in larger bodies that have no medical issues at all. Why is the thin couch potato more culturally acceptable than the larger triathlete?

Diet Culture wants you to be at war with your body because that’s how companies who support it make their billions of dollars every year while young girls are skipping meals, ultimately missing out on nutrients critical to their growth and maturation. What’s even worse is that these diet messages often come from parents who suffer from disordered eating patterns over decades of being at war with their own bodies. It’s a cycle of abuse you are paying dearly for with both your wallets and your well-being.

Tune in next week for Intuitive Eating Wednesday when I share how to blaze a path to defying Diet Culture.

In the meantime, what other crimes of Diet Culture can you identify? Comment below.

 

 

I’m Eating Unconditionally but Going Overboard on Sweets. Help!

This week’s Intuitive Eating Wednesday Question comes from a woman in my Diet Free Radiant Me intuitive eating support community.

The question is:

Question:

“When I give myself unconditional permission to eat the foods I want, all I eat are carbs and sweets, and I eat too many of them!! I’m worried that if I eat intuitively, I will only eat carbs and I will gain weight.”

 

I understand this concern, because I hear it from many people, both clients who are just starting the intuitive eating journey and those in my private intuitive eating support group who are contemplating the journey (If you are not yet a part of our group, join HERE for free).

 

It makes sense. You’ve been restricting carbs and sweets for years, maybe even decades (except when you are bingeing). Your mind has been programmed to think that carbs and sweets are “bad” for you and that you are a “bad” person if you eat them. So, in an effort to be “good”, you restrict them to the best of your ability. Until you can’t resist any longer and you make a deal with yourself – “I’ll only have one”, which leads to many or the whole box. Then you promise to NEVER eat them again.

 

So when the idea of intuitive eating was presented to you with the concept of “give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you desire when you are hungry”, this sounded too good to be true. But who are you to argue. You jump right in. And now you find yourself all the way at the other extreme of ‘carb land’ eating and eating and eating with a fear that you will now gain weight.

 

There are 3 points I’d like to make here to help you be at peace with ‘unconditional permission to eat”.

1. Whenever you restrict something all the way in one direction (i.e. chocolate) and then you release that restriction, it is going to boomerang all the way to the other direction. This means if you’ve restricted chocolate or pizza and haven’t had it in years, and now you release that restriction and allow yourself to eat it, you are likely going to eat a lot of it because you haven’t had it in so long. It’s like a pendulum, when pulled in one direction and then you let it go, it swings all the way to the opposite end.

 

Or, like a seesaw (did you play on a seesaw when you were a kid? I did!). Visualize restriction and deprivation at the highest point (that’s you sitting on the seesaw up in the air!). Then you let the restriction go all at once, bam, the seesaw hits the ground (and your bottom took a big hit!)

 

This is absolutely ‘normal’. This won’t last forever. You will return to a middle ground after a while. At some point you will say to yourself “okay, tastes nice but I don’t feel the need to have it every day anymore. I can have it any time I desire.”

 

2. Part of becoming attuned to your inner body wisdom means being mindful of how you feel while eating and after eating certain foods. So pay attention to how you feel when you are eating an overabundance of sweets. Do you feel energized, sluggish, low energy, tired? Do you have indigestion, bloat etc. You will find that after a while your body will tell you what it wants, and often that is lighter foods because it makes you feel so much better.

 

3. When you allow all foods into your world again, you will begin to identify your true food preferences. You may think you cannot live without those chocolate kisses, but now that you aren’t restricting them, you find that they taste like cheap chocolate. If you are going to eat chocolate, you want the expensive Godiva chocolate (I have a story about this which I’ll save for another time!)

 

This all might sound logical to you, right? So, why are you still scared?

 

Here are several reasons, along with solutions.

 

The solutions include the freebie gift downloads I’ve created for you over the last 3 weeks of Intuitive Eating Wednesdays.

 

1. Intellectually you understand all this. But your inner voices are still shouting diet food rules at you. This is because you still possess a diet mentality and wonder if willpower will help you eat the sweets ‘in moderation’.

 

Solution: There is no willpower required in intuitive eating. Download Your 3 Step Plan to Shift Out of Diet Mentality and the Willpower Trap here.

 

2. It’s not about the food at all. It’s about the WHY you are eating.

 

Solution: Learn what emotions are driving your eating and download the Emotional Eating Inventory Worksheet here.

 

3. You are still labeling food as “good” and “bad”, “healthy” and “unhealthy”.

 

Solution: Reprogram your ‘good food/bad food’ mindset and download the Fleshing Out Your ‘Good Foods/Bad Foods’ Worksheet here.

 

Let’s discuss this further on today’s Facebook LIVE at 5:30 pm EST on my Facebook business page HERE. Go ahead and LIKE the page now so you get notification when I go live.

 

Want to talk? Just go to http://TalkWithBonnie.com, answer a few short questions and we will set up a time to chat.