Real talk: diet culture is the problem, not you.

In last week’s real talk series, I discussed 7 coping mechanisms for dealing with disordered eating tendencies. You can find that post here. In this week’s real talk series, I’m exploring the blame behind diet culture and why diet culture is the problem, not you.

For the longest time, I thought I was the only one with a problem and that it was my fault that it affected me so much. I would blame my unhappiness on the food choices I made. I would blame my inability to lose weight on my lack of willpower.

Diet culture is the problem, not you.

In reality, it is diet culture who is at fault. It is diet culture who tells us what we can and can’t eat. It is diet culture that makes us feel like we’re not trying hard enough. Our poor relationships with food stem from being told contradictory messages. On the one hand, eggs are full of fat and are bad, but on the other hand, they’re full of protein so they’re good. I’ve always been a big fan of weekly meal plans but some weeks I would feel at a loss about what to eat because I felt like there were so many restrictions.

Diet culture is in it for themselves.

We have everything to lose from engaging in diet culture and diet culture has everything to gain. My trust. Your self-worth. Their money. Diet culture forces different ‘ideals’ on us, depending on what they can profit from at the time. In the past, the emphasis was on being thin. As women began to focus on strength training and using exercise to better their health, diet culture saw this as their new profit margin. Forget the benefits of exercise – in 5 easy steps, YOU can have abs! Forget that spinning improves your cardiovascular health, you can have longer, leaner legs! And as studies began publishing the long-term effects of processed foods, diet culture lapsed onto fruit and vegetables. Orthorexia is now a defined eating disorder where an individual only eats the foods they perceive as ‘clean’. This is no doubt due to the media’s push for clean eating.

There is nothing wrong with you. If you find that your eating habits lead to feelings of guilt and shame, that is not your fault. You have been conditioned to believe that the only way to eat ‘right’ is to eat whatever you’re being told to eat by the media, no questions asked. As I have talked about before, engaging with the body positivity movement is helpful for rebuilding your relationship with food. The content encourages you to rethink why you make the food choices that you do and slowly but surely, you can escape diet culture.

If you’re struggling with your relationship with food, contact BEAT Eating Disorders service for support.

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  1. My biggest step for recovery has been embracing the food that is considered bad instead of hating myself for days after eating it. I still struggle, but as I have to keep a low gi nutritional regime for health reasons, I was forced to shift my focus away from what I look like and what people think I should look like, and focus on trying my best not to spike my blood sugar and lose half a day to a migraine started at 3am. If that involves a Big Mac so be it.

    1. Author

      Yes, labels are the worst! My family still refer to foods as fattening and slimming which I have to force myself to look past. The best way to love your body is to focus on what you can do to help it function and it sounds like you’re on the right track now! Acceptance is key! Thank you so much for sharing x

  2. I hear you! This conditioning deep engraved in our minds is to be blamed and the culture surrounding what to eat and what not. For years I have lived in shame for having a body I was ashamed of. I am trying my best to shred the negativity and focus on healthy food instead of blindly following the diets I hear about.

    1. Author

      Yes me too! Thankfully I am in a place at the moment where I can ignore diet culture information but there’s so much of it, I can understand how difficult it can be for people to get out!

  3. Interesting take on the world of diet products. I agree that it’s often a marketing tactic and is designed to make you feel like a specific product will make your life better/your body healthier. I think it’s important to realize this and not fall victim to big brands telling you that you need their food/drink.

    1. Author

      There is an obvious collaboration between the food industry, the fitness industry and the media. We are pumped with images of ‘ideal’ people that we should strive to be. When we feel rubbish about ourselves, the food and fitness industries are right there waiting for us to either comfort eat or try to change our bodies. The sooner people realise this, the happier folks will be. Thank you so much for reading my post.

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