As a fitness and wellness blogger, I walk a fine line between healthy truth and diet culture lies. What is diet culture? According to UC San Diego, diet culture refers to “a set of beliefs that values thinness, appearance, and shape above health & well-being.”
I try to promote an ideal of being fit and healthy, no matter what form that takes. After all, ten different people can embark on the exact same diet and exercise plan for the same amount of time, and they will yield ten different results. It is my hope that people embrace their own beauty, while setting and achieving goals that make them feel strong and healthy.
Numbers Are Not A Moral Issue
Neither the size on your jeans nor the number on your scale have any bearing on the quality of your character. Somewhere along the line, thinness became equated with goodness, and that’s just not true. Numbers, including weight, size, and BMI, do not reflect who you are, or what you are worth. Ascribing to a particular way of eating doesn’t make you “better than.” Please don’t forget that.
Food Is Neither Good Nor Bad
For some reason, diet culture loves to assign the labels of “good” and “bad” to the foods we put in our body. Yes, food is fuel, but it’s also delicious, and something to be enjoyed Food is community and a common ground. Some people don’t have enough food, some have bodies who fight against food, and still others have the privilege to be voluntarily selective abut what they eat. We need food to survive, so it seems somewhat unkind and unnecessary to assign some sort of righteousness to what we consume. Do your best to give your body what it needs to run efficiently, but don’t get so lost in that pursuit that you lose sight of the joy that sustenance can bring.
Wear. The. Bathing. Suit.
So many people dread shopping for a bathing suit, which begs the question “but, why?” A bathing suit is just another piece of fabric we wear for a specific purpose (hanging out at the pool or beach), and has no business ruining your day. I have two rules when I pick a new suit: it needs to contain my (average) chest, and it needs to keep all my inside parts from touching the outside world. End of story. Your rules may vary. The point is, please don’t beat yourself up if you don’t fit some arbitrary standard. For the love of all that is holy, wear the dang bathing suit and be proud!
You Are Worthy To Take Up Space In This World
For the longest time, I was convinced that I didn’t deserve space. I tried to make myself small and invisible, no tiny feat when you’re 5’10” with a broad frame. Diet culture taught me that since I didn’t fit into a certain body shape or size, that I didn’t deserve a seat at table, and should relegate myself to the fringes of life. Years later, with hours of therapy and soul-searching under my belt, I can tell you that’s a lie. I may not look a certain way, but I am important, and valuable and deserve to be seen and heard. Don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise.
You Are Enough Just The Way You Are
Diet culture would have you believe that if you don’t fit its unnecessarily rigorous standards, you aren’t enough. This is false. You ARE enough, and don’t you dare forget it. Who you are is so much more important than calories and macros and workouts. If anyone tells you differently, that reflects poorly on them, not you. Be strong, be proud, and live your best life, on your terms.
Falling prey to diet culture lies can lead to a host of issues, including depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia and even eating disorders. Our bodies are beautiful, and are capable of great things. Let’s not do more damage to ourselves by disrespecting them or by trying to force them into something they’re not.
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Do you let yourself get sucked into the lies of diet culture?
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Great reminders. I particularly hate the “clean” food movement. What does it mean? Unprocessed? But thinks like almond milk and oatmilk are highly processed foods with additives to stabilize the milk-like consistency. Plus, brownies aren’t dirty, just delicious. 🙂
You are absolutely right! And brownies ARE delicious!
Darlene S Cardillo says
I NEVER weigh myself. If my clothes are too tight. I know what that means.
I enjoy eating. I don’t limit what I can eat but I know I need to be active to stay a healthy weight.
Bathing suits? Tough one. We are all different. We have to feel good. I could wear a bikini but I would not feel good. Tankini with a skirt suits me fine.
My husband has to keep his scale at his office. I can’t be near it.
I think there’s a difference in steering clear of a bathing suit because YOU don’t feel comfortable, and because someone told you you shouldn’t be wearing it. Wear what makes you feel good!
Ah, I love this topic. I could cry when I think of all the years of my life I wasted worrying about how my body looked, how much I weighed, and what kind of foods I was eating. Totally agree with everything you said- love the “good” and “bad” food point (and I agree with Coco- I hate the term “clean” food because then that means some foods are “dirty?”) Getting older helps, running helps, but I just wish there were a way to communicate this to all the twelve-year-old girls out there who are just starting the whole journey. It’s tough.
Same same same. And yes! Clean food! Where did that even come from?
Yes, we should reach our girls, but also our boys. They can fall victim to the same lies and myths.
Erica @Erica Finds says
Totally agree with all of these and the comments! I am tired of being told that something is “Guilt free” and seeing influencers (and unfortunately friends) who are promoting “good” or “clean” foods. If I could go back and tell my younger self anything it’s that being comfortable in your body makes you sexy and desirable. And chronic dieting does just the opposite!
I’ve been told that I’m “big for a runner.” I took it personally and dieted over and over to fit the image better. If I look back, I’ve always run better when I’m strong and well fueled. Hindsight is 20/20!
Erica @Erica Finds recently posted…Friday Five: 5 Things I’m Loving Lately
Bingo! After years and years of eating disorders and dieting, it turns out that my body knows where it’s happiest. I can fight it, or I can live with it in that range and help it be strong and active.
Renée @runlaugheatpie says
Best. Post. EVER!!! I’m actually now regularly responding to ads (I know it sets me up for more ads but then I can block hahaha) how I already have a summer body, it just happens to be my winter, spring and fall body as well. And that I already have a shape, a body shape. I don’t need to get “in shape” I’m already in a shape! guilt-free foods drive me insane as well. And don’t get me started on “cheat meals” – that implies that you are doing something wrong! Move your body. Eat the cake but the veggies too. Drink water. Get sleep. Have a cocktail. My goodness, life is too short for all of this other nonsense!
Yup! My summer body is always ready. Because it’s always summer and I have a body.
Kimberly Hatting says
ALL great points. I have to concur with all the “clean” food comments above. Honestly, I think the peeps who brag about their “clean” eating habits are trying to impress themselves more than the rest of us LOL
It’s very interesting to me to see how economics and class play into what we consider the norms of body types and food. It’s a tale as old as time.
Michelle D. says
Thank you Jenn for this post! I so agree with your point and all of the other comments about “clean” foods – it makes me crazy … as Renee said, life is too short for all of that nonsense. And yes…just wear the damn suit! 🙂
<3 Just enjoy! Life is way too short.
Weight is something I have struggled with for most of my life.
I did like one faddish diet, but then I found Weight Watchers. And I continued to work on the mental issues — just like running, that’s really the most important thing.
I wasn’t genetically blessed like some, and being short can make a big difference too. So it will never be as easy for me.
I can say for sure fad diets never work & it’s all about loving yourself.
Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…5 Cs of Mental Toughness
I struggled with eating disorders for over a decade. I finally reached a point where I am happy just being me. Height does play into it. I’m tall, so fluctuations are harder to detect on me. I think more people struggle than they will admit.
I don’t own a scale. I’m just too compulsive and I know I’d obsess over the numbers. I go by how my clothes feel. Strength training made me weight more, too. I just don’t want to think about it.
Thank you for this post.
<3 Yup. There are so many layers to weight and size. A number on the scale does not give the whole picture.
Lisa @ Mile by Mile says
These are great reminders. I really try to avoid labeling food as good or bad (or even healthy/unhealthy) since I believe they can all have a place in our diet. Life is too short to worry about what other people think or to try to live up to a certain standard!
Life is too short is exactly right.
Zenaida Arroyo says
Great post! I made the mistake in one post of talking about cheat meals and had to change it to indulgences. I no longer classify foods as either good, bad, clean, healthy, etc. Right now I eat what I want. I also believe in moderation. I love popcorn/chips with hot sauce but know that if I eat too much of it then the next day I am in the bathroom longer than normal. 🙂 I do have a friend that sometimes makes comments about my “unhealthy” options that I post on Facebook and I just ignore her. Remember my mashed potatoes and wine dinner? Haha!!!
I supported that mashed potatoes and wine dinner like you wouldn’t believe. It’s hard to change the mindset but food is food. There is no moral designation to it.