What is Diet Culture and 4 Steps to Navigate It

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If you’ve been following me on social media or reading my blog, you certainly have come across the term “diet culture.” I’ve mentioned it many times before. But what is diet culture? How does it impact your life? And what should you do about it?

This article tackles this topic and teaches you how to opt-out of it. Also, I offer some resources that will help you start a new life outside of this oppressive belief system. Here’s what you’re going to learn from this blog post:

What is diet culture?

How to navigate the diet culture

Diet culture educational resources

Now, let’s begin exploring the diet culture so you can take your first steps to freedom!

What is diet culture?

From the sound of it, you might think the term “diet culture” refers to a group of people who are on a diet. But it actually has a different meaning.

Christy Harrison, a colleague of mine, has the best diet culture definition. She defines it as a system of belief that worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue. It’s now prevalent in our society and oppresses women from all over the world!

How does this impact your life?

This means you may have spent your entire life thinking that you’re broken just because you don’t look like the impossibly thin ideal.

That’s just one angle. You can also look at the diet culture from three other angles:

The second angle is that it promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status. It makes you feel compelled, almost obligated, to spend massive amounts of time, energy, and resources, trying to shrink your body so you can fit into this thin ideal. Now, research is very clear that the dieting model has a 95 percent failure rate, so it might as well be an exercise in futility.

The next angle is it demonizes certain ways of eating while elevating others. It forces you to be hyper-vigilant about your eating, shames you for making certain food choices, and distracts you from the pleasure of eating as well as from your purpose and power.

Last but not least, it oppresses people who don’t match the supposed picture of health or the thin ideal. This affects us most particularly as women, although it’s starting to affect men.

My 25-year journey inside diet culture

As you probably know, I used to have a love-hate relationship with food and my body. A 25-year career in dieting left me obsessed, frustrated and confused about food. I was also at a loss on how to take care of my body.

Dieting was stealing my life and at 39. Then I decided that I had enough… I finally chose to take my power back and free myself from dieting and body shaming. The Going Beyond The Food Method™️ was born out of my personal journey.

Now, as a health professional, I’ve helped hundreds of women work their way out of this oppressive culture and develop a healthier relationship with food using intuitive eating and body neutrality.

Is diet culture affecting you, too? I invite you to consider its impact on your life. Take our quick self-assessment tool we created to help women determine if intuitive eating is the right solution for them.

How to navigate the diet culture

I invite you, and honestly all women, to become diet culture dropouts! Below are the four steps you need to take in your journey towards freedom:

  1. Understand that you have a choice. 

Now is the best time to be a woman. Unlike the generations before us, we’re liberated and empowered! You have to understand that diet culture is a tool that the patriarchy uses to keep us from being in our power. It keeps us busy minding our calories and macros. It induces guilt and so we feel inclined to punish ourselves when we fail.

Whether you want to stay in the diet culture and be oppressed or to break away from it and change your life, it’s totally up to you. But you should know that you have the power to make that choice.

  1. Take responsibility.

With great power comes great responsibility. Now, that sounds like a quote from a Spiderman movie, but as an empowered woman, you are responsible for your life. No one else is!

Now, you can be the victim of diet culture and drown yourself in self-pity and helplessness. Or you can say, “Screw this! I’m going to take responsibility, and I’m going to work myself out of it and change my life.”

It’s your call.

  1. Educate yourself. 

Read books and blogs. Listen to podcasts. Consume content that supports the choice that you’ve made for yourself. Be on guard against the content that might suck you right back into the diet culture. As I’ve said before, beware of diet culture programs disguised as wellness practices.

I’ve made it my personal mission to empower women by educating them so they don’t allow themselves to be oppressed. And so, I have put together some resources for you.

We have anti-diet culture podcast episodes on the Going Beyond the Food Show, where I interview health professionals. I invite you to listen as they share their expert insights and opinions on our relationship with our bodies and with food.

You can also read our anti anti-diet culture blog posts on this website. Here, we go deep into the research and the studies around diet culture as well as dieting and its impact on health.

If you’re looking for a anti-diet culture book, I recommend Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon, PhD. Dr. Bacon does research around health and dieting. It’s a book that gave me a lot of “aha moments” and subsequently changed my life.

  1. Find a framework to help you reconstruct your relationship with food and with your body.

You’re going to shift from the way of life that diet culture has taught you to a more empowering way of thinking and doing things. This means there’s a lot for you to unlearn and relearn, so you’re going to need all the support you can get.

The Going Beyond The Food Method™️ is a 5-step strategic process to help women move out of diet mentality and into self-care. Our 5 pillars are: mindset, emotional wellness, mindfulness, body neutrality and intuitive eating.

Diet culture educational resources

As a clinical nutritionist, I’ve found that intuitive eating is the most effective tool for developing a healthy relationship with food and your body. Intuitive eating teaches you to tap into your innate hunger and fullness cues. It requires you to relearn how to engage with food without restriction and without labeling food as “good” or “bad.”

The trauma around body image is more powerful than the one around food. What I have found over the years is that when we work through our relationship with food, it’s a lot easier and faster to heal body image issues.

We offer a variety of programs that will help you should you decide to opt-out of diet culture:

1)The Intuitive Eating Project – This is a self-study program that will help you relearn how to eat intuitively at your own pace.

2) The Going Beyond the Food Academy – This is group coaching program where we teach the Going Beyond The Food Method™️ and offer support and coaching in a more in-depth approach. In this program, we talk about mindset, emotions, body image, intuitive eating, and mindfulness.

3) Conquer and Thrive– This is a six-month, high-touch intensive program where you work one-on-one with me. Here, you learn how to work your way out of the diet culture and heal your relationship with food, your body, and yourself.

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