With all of the talk around keto, paleo, intermittent fasting and whether spin classes, HIIT, or strength training is the best kind of exercise, it can be incredibly difficult to sift through what is sound advice and what is really a disordered message in disguise. And while the January diet focus content might be slowing down, the diet talk continues as we get closer to spring and summer. So today, I’m going to share with you a few ways that diet culture is steering you wrong and can perpetuate unhealthy and disordered eating and exercise habits.
Diet culture promotes extreme, all-or-nothing views.
When it comes to diet culture, the messages around food and exercise are often very extreme, with black-and-white perspectives. This includes cutting out entire food groups, fasting for hours on end, and arguing irrefutably that one type of exercise is superior to another. These arguments can often be convincing because they cite studies and provide before and after pictures, which makes consumers more likely to believe that this perspective is legitimate. And while some of these ways of eating and exercise might work for someone without a history of disordered eating, they are fuel for increased eating disorder behaviors in others.
Instead of engaging in trends about the latest diet or exercise fad, seek out the support of a registered dietitian who can provide education around nutrition, demystify popular beliefs such as carbs are evil and fat is bad, and work with you to create a customized meal plan that supports your optimal health and wellbeing.
Diet culture perpetuates a focus on your body and the belief that your appearance measures your worth.
While having a healthy body, eating a varied diet, and engaging in regular exercise are all important parts of physical and mental health, diet culture takes this to an extreme and reinforces the belief that the most important thing about you is your appearance and how well you fit into what society currently views as beautiful. The problem is that all struggles with food and exercise are never actually about the food or how your body looks; they’re about how you feel about yourself.
Disordered eating and exercise become the focus, the tools that seem to be the answer, but in reality, they are a distraction from what is underneath. In therapy, we work together to uncover those underlying factors to help you heal the root cause of your disordered eating and separate your self-worth from how your body looks.
Diet culture does not support genuine wellbeing.
It’s important to note that not all messages around nutrition, exercise, and body image are negative and unhelpful. What sets diet culture messaging apart is the link between appearance and self-worth. Diet culture doesn’t care how you feel about yourself, what your life has been like, and what it will take for you to be the happiest, healthiest version of yourself. It only cares that you engage in the latest diet trend so that you meet the current standard of beauty…and then change it again in five years when a new body type is “in.”
Instead of focusing on a number on the scale or clothing size, we should be more focused on creating holistic wellbeing with a priority on mental, physical, and emotional health. Seeking out the support of a qualified therapist can help you identify the mental and emotional aspects that may need some attention and create a personalized treatment plan that helps you live your best life.
I am currently accepting new clients. If you are interested in exploring your relationship with food, fitness, or simply leveling up your mental and emotional wellbeing, please call our intake line at (720) 675-7123 to schedule your free consult today.
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