Diet culture is everywhere. I often have clients say to me ‘I feel like I am the only person that eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day’ or ‘I’m like the only person in my friendship group that eats carbs.’ Sometimes, that might 100% be true.
Diet culture has become the ‘norm’ in today’s society. It is hard to find someone that has never been on a diet, never wanted to lose weight, never felt the weight of comparison, judgment or pressure to be something other than they were.
Keto, Paleo, Low Carb, No Carb, Low Fat, No Fat, Atkins, Rainbow, Fasting, Intermittent Fasting, Dukan, HCG, Zone, Macro, Zone, Dash, Mind, TLC...with all this information and misinformation from a five second Google search, I don’t know how people don’t develop eating disorders!
Yes, disordered eating has become the norm, but it doesn’t mean it is ok.
Violence and injustice against people of colour have sadly been the norm in some countries but it does not mean it is ok.
Cancer has unfortunately become a normative thing to be diagnosed with, but that does not make it ok.
If you are feeling frustrated about being ‘the only one’ out there that is actively trying to have a different relationship with food, you are paradoxically not alone! I often tell my clients that when they recover, they just might feel like they have a better relationship with food and their bodies than people that have never had an eating disorder, because they have had to work so hard for it.
I am a woman that has recovered from an eating disorder. I was plagued for 14 years by food fears and almost 20 years by body image issues.
I am also a woman that lives and breathes in a world that is infected with body image dissatisfaction, body and food hypersensitivity and body and food comparisons via a multitude of mediums. Like the sun emitting UV rays, our worlds emits diet culture. It is out there in the people we talk to, the magazine articles, the newspapers, TV and radio, advertisements and commercials, food labelling, calories in restaurants, the cosmetic industry, the world wide web...everywhere.
So, I need to regularly vaccinate myself against this in the same way we protect against UV rays when we spend time in the sun. I live and breathe every day in a disordered world when it comes to food and body, and so I must take precautions with my PPE, my self-care and regular vaccinations (please, this is not a debate about vaccinations vs anti vaccinations – it is an analogy!).
My PPE consists of my values – above all else, I value the freedom to make choices from love, not from fear. I choose my clothes based on what I feel comfortable in, not what fashion dictates I ‘should’ wear or clothes that make me look a certain way. I choose my food based on desire, taste, convenience, variety, experience.
My self-care consists of washing or cleansing myself when I come in contact with something that has been infected with this virus. If I am given a magazine or book that espouses diet culture talk, I throw it away. If a commercial comes on that doesn’t represent freedom in its highest form when it comes to food and body, I turn it off. I refuse to be marketed and dictated to by the dictators of diet culture.
And my vaccination? Doing what I do every day. Working with people who have lost loved ones or are losing themselves to diets, body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. For me, I have built up a resistance to the desire to diet or lose weight. Food has come to equal freedom, and body acceptance my wings.
How do you protect yourself against diet culture and body dissatisfaction?