Since the beginning of the fitness industry we have seen ads and media pushing "Thin makes you pretty." "Thin makes you healthy and desirable!" Toxic words that bevel deep into the subconscious, continually screaming at you that you are not good enough.
Diet culture has created a very toxic mindset with it. Telling us that we are nothing if we eat too much, eat the wrong foods, and if we do not fit a size 20" waist. While we know it's a toxic lifestyle, we continue to allow it to infiltrate our daily lives. What happens when we allow this to happen? Let's take a look!
Firstly, what is diet culture? Diet culture refers to a particular mindset that values thinness, appearance & shape above overall health and wellness.
1. Negative self talk/fat talk ensues. This is a very dangerous side effect. This one in particular leads to many mindset changes that lead to physical changes. This can lead to:
- Body dysmorphia: this is when you look in the mirror and see something completely different that what is actually showing. I still see the overweight and unhealthy 20-something year old looking back in the mirror at me some days. I have to remind myself with progress pictures how far I have actually come in my health over my looks and that where I am is a much better place than where I was.
- Eating disorders: negative self talk definitely leads us into eating disorders. Our subconscious bringing to the the forefront of our minds that if we eat that we will be worthless, unworthy, and fat. That this food and that food are bad and we need to eliminate them to achieve our goal of thinness. Anorexia, bulimia, and even binge eating at times. All three of these disorders mess up the balance of homeostasis in the body and in the hormones. Without proper nutrients our body begins to break down. Not just muscle, our organs begin to stop working properly, we can no longer digest properly, mood is out of balance due to hormone influxes and your sleep will suffer as well due to hormone influx.
- Feelings of unworthiness: when we feel this way, depression is more than likely to follow. Telling ourselves we are not worthy of love, life, the promotion or anything else radiantly positive in life due to our looks is self torture. It is self sabotage for the things we truly desire in life. This will cause stress hormones to rise and radical damage to follow in the organs, mind and hormones as well. Affecting more than just our thoughts, but again how our body operates and functions overall.
- Fat talk: this is exactly how it sounds. Individuals speaking about themselves as if they were overweight. "My thighs are too big" "I need to lose 5 pounds" "This milkshake has too many calories in it". These also lead to eating disorders.
2. Caloric restrictions. This is a HUGE one I talk about with my clients often. There is no such thing as good or bad food. Diet culture teaches us that there is. "You can't have that ice cream! It will make you fat!" Well I ask, what is that ice cream made from? Coconut milk or cows milk? It is not that there are bad foods or good foods for us, there are simply ingredients that either work with our bodies or against them. This is a toxic mindset created from diet culture. Caloric restrictions lead to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Most prevalent in teens, including boys.
3. Photo editing to fit the criteria. This is huge one since the birth of social media. Before we just airbrushed and photoshopped ourselves through Photoshop. Now we swipe and see a filter that makes us as perfect skinned as the porcelain doll your grandma gave you as a kid that still creeping you out in the back of your closet. We filter and eventually this is how we perceive ourselves in the mirror one day without the filter which creates a whirlpool of mental issues, low self-esteem and bodily self harm like eating disorders. Photo editing is fun and all, but let's save it for the pictures that look like you're fighting a really big dragon, eh? In 2019 a studied showed that 90% of Americans aged 18-29 used social media daily and that of those 50% regularly used social media editing tools. 50% were men and 70% were women.
How do we stop diet culture talk? This is simple to understand, difficult to implement as it is so engrained into our society now.
So there are many ways we can overcome diet culture speak and lifestyle choices. Most of them are being more mindfully aware of what we are choosing in those moments.
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