Diet Culture and Changing For Good

Diet Culture and Changing For Good

The word diet.

The word implies sacrifice. The word implies deprivation. The word implies restriction. The word implies fun killer.

And then we think a little bit more and keto, intermittent fasting, low carb, grapefruit and whatever other “diet” comes to mind.

Actually, Dictionary tells me that diet is “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” So in other words, it just a way of eating. That’s it.

It has gotten so convoluted in today’s society and we usually take it to mean something different. It now often implies “the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management reasons (with the two often being related). So it has been changed to most of the time mean weight-management. Trying to lose weight or trying to lose fat.

It is so interesting to see how the whole diet culture thing got started. I just use the Google machine and found out that In the early 1900s an overweight businessman slimmed down and made dieting a pop culture phenomenon. He popularized his Chewing Diet. WTF? He recommended that people chew their food until it became liquid. In theory this would prevent them from overeating. And so it began.

There was an even earlier popular diet that an English undertaker brought to light. It was called “Banting.” Banting wrote a booklet which contained the particular plan for the diet he had successfully followed. This diet consisted of mainly low carb, high fat that mostly restricted starchy, processed and sugary foods. Instead it promoted intake of wholesome foods in order to lose weight. Perhaps the beginning of a keto-type way of eating.

As the diet culture evolved, diet became interchangeable with these words and phrases: fast, abstinence, intake, restricted diet, quantity, restriction, starvation, nutritional therapy and regimen.

Diet culture is toxic. It can make you feel guilty for enjoying the so-called unhealthy foods. It can make you feel that you have to be skinny in order to be beautiful. It can make you think food is good or bad. It labels your food choices. It labels how you look. It normalizes negative self talk. It makes you feel like a piece of crap if you don’t look a certain way.

I prefer to have my clients eat as much as they can and still lose weight, rather than restrict as much as they can. The restriction can be such a mind fuck. I hate the fact that that is what most diets do. The calories go so low that a person is bound to feel pissed off, hangry, tired and overall crappy. It’s no wonder they go right back to eating more when this diet is “done” after 30 days. That is another complaint I have with the whole diet culture. You can’t be done. It doesn’t work that way.

Those 30 days diets do nothing but show you how to restrict. I mean seriously, if you know you are going to start one of those 30 days plans, what are you doing the few days before your start date? You are eating everything in sight and you are eating every single food you have had a craving for in the last year because you know you are going to be restricted and won’t be able to have that food on your 30 day plan. How is that any way to live?

I would much rather enjoy the foods I love and still be able to lose fat, if that is my goal. When you are “allowed” to have the foods you want and the foods you love, it makes it so much easier to stay on track. I don’t know about you, but when I get told I “can’t have” certain foods, that is all I think about. If I am told you only get 1000 calories, that’s all I think about and then all I want to do is eat everything. The mind is such an amazing thing. It’s amazing how the things we tell ourselves manifest into our daily.

There is growing research supporting the flexible eating approaches as more superior to the rigid and restrictive approaches. The naysayers and food snobs tend to be the groups that shit on the approaches that actually help people build better relationships with food and can then see progress because they allow themselves to eat the foods they love without the restrictions or extremes. I believe in eating mostly nutrient dense foods with treats added in some of the time. For me this approach has worked amazing. I have seen great results and I am not constantly wanting something I have been told I can’t have.

There are so many ways of eating and the key is finding what works for you. Ask yourself if what you are doing is sustainable for the long haul. Focus on what you can control.

I have worked hard on letting go of that diet mentality and the diet mindset. It has not been easy. I work on myself every single day. It takes time, but it is worth the feeling of freedom. I am so done with diet jail. The “hack” is finding the balance. It can take years to find that balance. The line is fine between enjoying life and setting boundaries around your health goals. I walk it every single day.

For so many, there is so much pain in the day-to-day, that we look for anything to help. The quick fix and the 30 day detox sound inviting. They may give you a quick hit of weight loss, not fat loss. There is a difference. But, then instead of keeping that off after the 30 days, it comes right back and then some. Because that way of eating is not sustainable, so the results will not be sustainable. Take the time to change. Take the time to get in the process and learn how your body reacts to things. Learn how to track calories or macros, or start smaller. You deserve to feel good. That is your priority. Feeling better is the name of the game. Looking better is a side effect.

Start rejecting the whole diet culture toxicity. Change the way you talk to yourself. Be positive. Change the language you use around your food. Change the language you use around how you describe your body. Change the language you use to describe your health. Don’t feel guilty because you eat foods you love. Don’t feel guilty and then go do hours of cardio. Exercise because you love your body, not because you hate it. Stop being ashamed.

My clients aren’t coming to me to look like a 20 year old again. My clients want to feel better. They want to feel better in their skin. They want to make changes that are going to last. That takes time. That takes effort. And that takes discomfort. Stepping into the unknown can be very scary. You have to choose what’s more important to you. You have to choose your hard. It’s hard to be unhealthy. It’s hard to get and stay healthy. Choose where you want to be.

And before all the hate comes bubbling up, it is a-okay to want to change how you look. Change because you want to, not because someone is telling you to. Change because you are making the choice. Don’t let someone try to make that choice for you. It’s up to you. It can take time to get there, but be true yourself and trust that you will rise.



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