As I sat down to write this blog, I realized that I’ve ALMOST written on this subject five different times. The truth is, I feel torn on how to balance my feelings on the subject.
On one hand, I despise the pressure so many people in our society feel about looking a certain way, fitting a certain mold. I don’t even need to explain this any further because the standard of beauty has been so ingrained in us from every direction, from every media outlet. You ALL know what I’m talking about.
On the other hand, I recognize our nation is facing an obesity epidemic that impacts the physical and emotional wellbeing of millions of people.
On one hand, I know I should never judge another person’s situation because you truly never know what they’re going through.
On the other hand, I know there are so many people who want help with issues such as emotional overeating, but feel stuck and helpless. I’ve been there and it’s scary. And I needed help to get through it.
Are you seeing my dilemma? Nevertheless, when I get quiet and listen to my inner voice, I know the answer is always rooted in love and compassion. But only 100% of the time (love you, Byron Katie)! More on that in a bit!
First, let me share my definition of diet culture as the pervasive belief that thinness is equal to worthiness, success, and beauty. Diet culture encourages you to change your body based on the lie that you’ll feel sexier, happier, more successful when you’re smaller. The fact is, if you don’t do the inner work, NOTHING you do to change your outer appearance will help.
The only way to feel sexier, happier, and more successful is to have sexier, happier, and more successful thoughts about yourself. And that’s possible at any size. It may be hard in the beginning, but I promise, it’s possible (and one of my favorite things to work with my clients to master).
Diet culture is also FULL of judgements. Some direct, others more subtle. Here’s a seemingly harmless example. You see a friend you haven’t seen in months. You say, “Wow, you look great! You’ve lost so much weight!” Whether you realize it or not, you just made the connection that weight loss = great. The unspoken counter message is that weight gain = bad.
Think about the impact this has on children, whose developing brains are being programmed with these messages.
Below, I’m going to share with you some of my observations about diet culture and offer some alternative ways to think about food, exercise, and overall wellbeing.
Diet culture: Hyper-focus on food. Food controls your day. You obsess about food you’ve already eaten, what you are currently eating, and what you’ll eat next.
Instead: Thoroughly enjoy food when you’re eating. Focus your attention on more important things when you’re not eating. If your mind wanders to food, notice it, and consciously shift your attention to what you are doing in the present moment.
Diet culture: Labels foods as either good or bad. This sets you up to make “good” choices and “bad” choices all day long. Your worth is often tied to these choices.
Instead: Think about food as fuel and nourishment for our bodies.
Diet culture: Exercise is a tool for weight loss. It should be difficult and painful in order to be effective.
Instead: Exercise is a tool for emotional wellbeing. Find a form that you enjoy.
Diet culture: Masks judgement about other people’s bodies and life choices as concern for their health.
Instead: Remind yourself that you can never truly know what another person is going through. Also: Other people’s bodies are none of your concern.
Diet culture: Compliments people on weight loss.
Instead: Compliment people on their beautiful smile. How they light up a room. How helpful they’ve been.
Diet culture: Celebrates hard work, deprivation, sacrifice, and willpower.
Instead: Celebrate choices that align with your inner voice or your core values.
Diet culture: Encourages you to change your body to fit societal standards.
Instead: Focus on your emotional wellbeing, healing inner wounds, and reconnecting with your inner strength. Inner turmoil will not be resolved with a smaller body.
Has something I’ve shared here today resonated with you? If so, please let me know!
And if you’d like more information about working with me one-on-one, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at: (816) 392-3034.