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Don't Be Fooled By Diet Culture

What’s up Vegi Fam!?!?

We’re in month five of quarantine and it can be a little...draining. You might be doing a little more scrolling on social media than usual, and seeing diet culture pop up left and right can be exhausting. Not sure what diet culture is? Let’s walk through the basics and how you can rid your feel of toxic messages.

Diet culture is “a belief system that focuses on and values weight, shape, and size over well-being” according to Sara Upson of My Signature Nutrition, writing for the Eating Disorder Registered Dieticians & Professionals blog. What does that concretely look like, though?

As you’re scrolling through Instagram and see celebs hawking magic “weight-loss” pills or teas, that’s diet culture. Going to a bridal shop and having the attendant ask you what you’re doing to lose weight before the big day is diet culture. Questioning someone’s eating habits and making assumptions about their lifestyle based on their shape is diet culture. Being sent memes mid-quarantine about the tragic possibility of gaining weight is diet culture. Constantly being flooded with before/after pics is diet culture. And it’s mentally taxing, y’all. 

Diet culture might seem harmless, especially if the majority of what you experience is on social media. But, the images you see matter, and enough of the same types of messaging can lead to unhelpful thought patterns, like obsessing over food and restricting what you eat or working out constantly. These diet culture tricks might produce some short-term results, but they don’t create lasting change, because the lifestyle is unsustainable. When you spend money and energy on dieting fads, diet pills, or “quick fixes,” in many instances, gaining weight can feel like failure. And we never want anyone to feel that way.That is NOT what we’re about over here at VegiVale Wellness Co. And, if you have fallen into the trap of diet culture, it’s not your fault! It’s all around us, and it can be hard to not be swept into the bright, flashy world of beauty standards. But, it might be time for you to set a boundary. 

For instance, the keto diet, Atkins diet, and South Beach diet, all restrict a person’s intake of carbohydrates. Carbs are used as fuel for our bodies, and are our main source of energy. While all carbs aren’t created equally, they’re important for us to consume. Diet culture in this instance fools us into thinking we can cut out and neglect an entire food group, which will indeed help you lose weight initially. However, as soon as you begin eating carbs again (which remember, your body NEEDS), there’s a good chance you’ll gain back all that weight. Then, diet culture tells you you’re the failure for ‘cheating’ and having a french fry. That isn’t our jam. 

So let’s change the narrative: What if the goal wasn’t to lose weight, but instead was to feel more energized and excited? What if you aimed to grow strong instead of fit into a societal beauty standard? What if your motivation for eating more veggies was the environment or how tasty they are instead of the number of calories they contained? That probably is a more sustainable lifestyle than constantly monitoring your food or taking bogus “green tea” pills each morning. It can take time, but changing the way you think about food from ‘dieting’ to ‘healthy living’ can make a world of difference. 

The key to healthy living, at least how we see it, is moderation. Craving some ice cream? Go for it! But don’t eat the entire container. Craving something crunchy? Aim for a carrot instead of some crackers. There is so much freedom in listening to your body’s cravings and not restricting yourself. Hunger cues are there for a reason fam! And, as far as exercise goes, find the type of exercise that speaks to you. There are so many ways to move your body: dancing, pilates, taking walks in your park, weight lifting, running, jump rope! There are a million ways to work out: not a rigid regiment that you’ll find boring or exhausting in a week. 

So Vegi Fam, consider this permission to unfollow any account that’s telling you they have ‘three quick ways for you to lose twenty pounds in a week.’ You deserve better <3 Stay strong and healthy, and wear a mask!

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