Understanding the concept of diet culture is imperative to even beginning to grasp Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size, the founding philosophies of Wonderfully Well.

What even is diet culture?

Think about it this way:

  • If you’ve ever felt that you need to justify a “bad” food choice, that’s diet culture.
  • If you’ve ever believed that you earned dessert because you exercised, that’s diet culture.
  • If you’ve ever skipped an event you otherwise wanted to attend because there was nothing there that fit your meal plan, that’s diet culture.
  • If you’ve ever had an attitude or mood change based on a change in the number on the scale, the size of your clothing, or body measurements, that’s diet culture.
  • If you’ve ever drank water when you’re hungry to avoid eating food, that’s diet culture.
  • If you’ve ever put off doing any sort of activity until you weigh X pounds, that’s diet culture.
  • If you’ve ever had a “cheat day,” that’s diet culture.
  • If you’ve ever replaced a food you truly love with one that is lower in calories, that’s diet culture.

It is clear that diet culture hijacks our lives in ways that we don’t even recognize because we are constantly getting messages from diet culture that we “should” be doing all these things in order to be in smaller, conventionally attractive bodies that will supposedly open the entire world for us so we can “truly, finally” live. This narrative that we need to constantly be working to make our bodies fit size and beauty expectations is damaging and prevents us from living in the biggest and fullest ways we can.

One of the very first steps in recognizing and choosing to step out of diet culture. Start being a critical observant about how you and those around you use and talk about food. Recognize if you’re choosing foods you don’t want because they’re “good,” or if a friend comments that they need to exercise in order to work off a food.

Increasing your awareness is critical, and you can start noticing right away! In this early stage, do your best to have grace for yourself – we’re all immersed in diet culture constantly, and it’s understandable that it has affected our lives and actions. The more you observe how diet culture makes choices for you, though, the more easily you can step back into your autonomy!

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