If you struggle with your relationship with food and your body, you’ll know that the temptation of diet culture and that unachievable ‘ideal body’ never truly goes away. Disordered eating and poor body image are real mental health issues that need TLC just like any other issue. You might have long periods of body positivity and food freedom and then BAM – just like that, diet culture rears its ugly head again. Usually, diet culture slips through the radar when we’re going through periods of stress or uncertainty. Today, I want to talk to you through 4 techniques for avoiding a diet culture relapse.
First of all, I don’t want you to shame yourself. No one here is going to judge you for thinking about calorie counting or restriction. We have been conditioned to believe that weight loss gives you more value as a person. Reminder: your body does not define your worth. Diet culture likes to pretend that we’re in control when we’re focused on food and exercise. This is why it can feel tempting to go back to monitoring our food intake. In reality, diet culture is the one controlling us to make us feel out of control so that we want to diet more.
4 techniques for avoiding a diet culture relapse
- When you feel the urge to restrict or body shame yourself, seek out anti-diet content that supports health at every size. Remind yourself that bodies are supposed to be different.
Some of my favourite body positive accounts to follow on Instagram are:
- Think about what is making you feel like you want to change your body again. Have you been seeing only one type of body size rather than a variety? Did someone say something that triggered previous feelings of unworthiness? Try to write down what might be the underlying cause, how it’s making you feel and 1 positive thing you can do to reduce these feelings.
- Reflect on how far you’ve come since you ditched the diet. Releasing yourself from restriction and embracing food freedom is hard work. It’s even harder to let go of negative self-talk. Allowing yourself to fall back into diet culture risks undo-ing all the effort that you’ve put in up until now. Your past self is proud of you. Your future self depends on you.
- Talk to someone that you trust about how you’re feeling. It’s also helpful if the person has also committed to ditching the diet. The last thing you need right now is for someone to suggest an unhelpful coping mechanism that contradicts your body positivity values. By talking about what’s on your mind and saying it out loud, you’re validating your emotions rather than suppressing them. If you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about how you’re feeling, imagine a friend has come to you with the same problems. How would you react? What advice would you give them? Looking at your own problems from the perspective of someone else can help you to see your stressors in a new light.
Diet culture is unfortunately embedded within our society and it’s not going away any time soon. It’s a billion dollar industry that thrives on poor self-esteem. We may not be able to eradicate it just yet, but we can protect ourselves from its harmful effects. If you found this useful, why not share this post with a friend who may want to know what to do when slipping back into diet culture?
If you struggle with your relationship with food, contact BEAT Eating Disorders service for support.
Always remember to take a paws,