Unlearning the harmful norms of diet culture

Fad diets only give temporary results.
Photo courtesy of Daily Trojan.

It’s a relaxing afternoon and you’re scrolling on Instagram. Your favorite Instagram model, or influencer is promoting the latest flat tummy tea while sporting a body that screams “body goals.” You know summer is soon approaching so you want to look your best in your bathing suit on the beach. You click the link in their bio and before you know it you’re checking out for the third time in a row.

According to nationaleatingdisorders.org “Diet culture is dangerous and harms people of all sizes, by perpetuating eating disorders and making a full recovery almost impossible. But when it comes to identifying diet culture in a world that is sadly rife with it, there can be plenty of confusion.”

Famous fad diets like the lemonade cleanse, juicing, the water diet and even the most recent one, the “keto/ketogenic” diet are meant to work, but only temporarily.

Most people get on these diets and lose drastic weight in a considerably short amount of time, but quickly gain the weight back that was lost and sometimes even gain more. This puts individuals back in a constant cycle of crash diets and extreme weight gain.

That is the danger of diet culture. It promotes weight loss by unhealthy means.

According to Alliance for Eating Disorders, “Toxic diet culture entails anything suggesting that ‘healthy’ has one specific size and look. Diet culture is both the marketing of these products and the beliefs and insecurities that they instill within us.”

Growing up as a child, people would pick on my weight whether I was bigger, or smaller. It definitely weighed down on my confidence as a child. I felt like I was never good enough and became insecure about my body that I started doing these fad diets at eight-years-old. The constant back and forth really made me distrust my body and food.

Thankfully I was an athlete which helped me to maintain a bit. My body type can gain weight fast, but it has the tendency to lose weight fast as well. It’s weird, but even as an athlete, I would still be insecure about my body and have a distrust with food.

Now as an adult, I am learning the importance of balance and self-care. The more I love on my body, the more my body starts responding the way I need it to.

Diet culture definitely praises thinness and targets thicker, or overweight people, when it should be promoting healthy choices for all body types. Additionally, just because a person is smaller doesn’t mean they’re healthy and a person that is bigger is unhealthy.

According to Good House Keeping, “Diet culture places thinness as the pinnacle of success and beauty, and in diet culture, there is a conferred status to people who are thinner, and it assumes that eating in a certain way will result in the right body size — the ‘correct’ body size — and good health, and that it’s attainable for anybody who has the ‘right’ willpower, the ‘right’ determination.”

Everyone’s body types weren’t meant to be big and some are not meant to be small. Using a single standard of beauty and weight marginalizes and victimizes certain people who don’t meet these goals.

The body needs all food groups including carbs and sugars. A balanced diet is what the body needs.