By: Erika Escamilla

Every year at the start of January, diet companies will promote and glorify weight loss, excessive exercise, and food restrictions. They profit from the idea that people define themselves based off losing weight, promoting the idea that one’s life does not begin until they are thinner. Toxic diet culture refers to any programs that encourage extreme weight loss that requires restricting yourself, working out extensively, and profiting off your insecurities.

Diet culture leaks into our everyday lives more than we think. For example, we justify not eating all day because we did not have time, or defining our self-worth based on our size, and how quickly we get full. Nearly everyone you know has had an encounter with diet culture. Toxic diet culture is everywhere, to escape it means you define your own self-worth and your own healthy habits away from companies who profit off of your insecurities.

If you have ever wanted to lose weight in the past, then you’ve probably tried a diet plan. It’s hard to escape the never-ending cycle of starting and ending diets. Before and After pictures present to us an idea that the ‘before’ pic was undesirable and unworthy. What many do not realize is that most of these pictures can be edited, meaning that companies will lie to you in order to sell you a diet plan. Further, ‘after’ pictures present to us the issue of valuing thinner bodies and comparing our bodies to others. All of these aspects make of the nature of toxic diet culture. The idea behind them is that you should restrict yourself, exercise a lot, and value only an image of yourself that is thinner. These ideas are toxic and can lead someone to develop an eating disorder and an unhealthy relationship with food. Fortunately, there are alternatives to dieting that help create a healthy foundation for eating food without restrictions.

Intuitive eating

Offered defined as the philosophy of eating that makes you the expert of your body and your hunger signals. It states that you are best person to make choices regarding what you eat. The basic idea is that you should eat when you’re hungry and stop when you full. Intuitive eating also focuses on addressing the importance of respecting your body and eating for enjoyment i.e: not shaming yourself for enjoying treats. Honoring your hunger is the most important aspect of intuitive eating because it focuses on keeping your body biologically fed. This philosophy avoids reaching excessive hunger and instead promotes eating when your body demands it.

Resources and Blogs to Follow

If you would like to learn more about toxic diet culture, consider following these blogs or reading these books to educate yourself further.

Blogs:

@yrfatfriend on Instagram

@theshirarose on Instagram

@I_weigh on Instagram

Books:

The F*ck it Diet by Caroline Dooner

Dietland by Sarai Walker

Health at every size (The Surprising Truth About Your Weight) by Linda Bacon

Podcasts:

Maintenance Phase by Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes

Confessions of a Trainwreck: Toxic diet Culture

The Loud Women’s Club: Toxic Diet Culture

Additional Links:

https://www.lindywest.net

https://www.presence.io/blog/10-vital-ways-to-support-fat-students-on-campus/#:~:text=Teach%20future%20doctors%20and%20nurses,doing%20to%20support%20fat%20students.

https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/everything-you-know-about-obesity-is-wrong/

It’s always important to recognize that being skinny does not equal healthy. Losing weight does not mean you need to stick to a strict toxic diet plan. Creating healthy habits for yourself and recognizing the signs your body tells you are two important things to practice build a healthy relationship with food. You know your body better than anyone else, no company can tell you when or how to eat. Let’s move on from toxic diet culture and practice healthy eating habits for only ourselves!

Sources:

https://behavioralnutrition.org/what-is-diet-culture/

https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/

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