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How Diet Culture Fails Us

Diet culture is a symptom of an oppressive system that underpins so many of the ways we show up in the world. It prevents us from being present, enjoying the people we love and the things we enjoy, and stops us from caring for ourselves.

Although we do not consent to diet culture, we have to deal with the fallout of generations of both men and women playing into the ‘rewards’ of diet culture, while ignoring all of the risks. 

Listen To Your Body Podcast 318 How Diet Culture Fails Us

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Key Takeaways

If You Are Ready To Reclaim What Diet Culture Has Stolen From You, You Should:

  1. Filter your feed and the messages you receive to stop perpetuating the cycle of diet culture
  2. Stop living your life based on what you think is okay or not okay with your body
  3. Acknowledge the ways diet culture has stolen your life experiences and step away from that oppressive system
  4. Find a support system that will encourage you to reclaim what diet culture has taken from you

What is Diet Culture?

Diet culture keeps us small in every sense of the word. It keeps us striving for an unattainable and constantly changing body ideal, it keeps us distracted and dulled from using our power, and it keeps us from enjoying life experiences and the people we love.

We were not put on this Earth to achieve a perfect body and then die. Often we don’t even realize what diet culture is stealing from us because we are so immersed in it. I guarantee that when you look back at your life, the people you love will not remember if you have cellulite, they will remember how you made them feel and the memories that you were able to enjoy together.

The Real Risks of Diet Culture

Diet culture doesn’t just make us play small or hold back on our dreams and chase impossible body ideals; it can actually take our lives from us in every sense of the world. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness out there, but the corporations and companies that fed us this swill only focus on diet culture benefits, not the downsides.

Unpacking and unlearning diet culture takes time and requires self-compassion and connection. While it is not going to happen overnight, just understanding the risks that are very real if we continue to let diet culture perpetuate our lives is a great first step.

Are you ready to stop letting diet culture steal your zest for life? Share which of my suggestions you are going to implement to step away from diet culture and reclaim the things that diet culture has stolen from you in the comments below. 

In This Episode

  • Breaking down what diet culture is and what it has taken from us (5:40)
  • A shortlist of the ways that diet culture has stolen from us as a collective whole (14:00)
  • Understanding why diet culture promotes an ideal that is not attainable for many of us instead of health-promoting behaviors (23:40)
  • Why you shouldn’t mistake body bashing for bonding (30:45)
  • Statistics explaining the toll diet culture is taking on us around disordered eating and eating disorders (33:10)

Quotes

“I think we need to name how we are harmed by diet culture in these ways, how diet culture has failed us.” (13:59)

“Diet culture makes us play small and it makes us hold back on our dreams.” (17:39)

“Diet culture steals our life from us, it makes us pull back from having the experiences and participating in all of the things that we love, the people we want to be with. And those are really the experiences that stick and that matter.” (21:34)

“When you decide to start unpacking diet culture and start moving away from these practices in your own life, you need support. Do not do this on your own because you will quickly become overwhelmed and subsumed by this larger dominant system.” (32:17)

“The toll that diet culture is taking on us is heavy, and the corporations and companies and diet industry, they are not forthcoming about the risks, they are not forthcoming about the downsides.” (34:06)

Featured on the Show

National Eating Disorders Association

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Related Episodes

Ep 317: Diet Culture and the Patriarchy 

Ep 316: What Food Freedom Is (And Isn’t)

Ep 298: How to Show Up More Authentically with Grace Edison

How Diet Culture Fails Us FULL TRANSCRIPT

Steph Gaudreau

On Episode 318 of the Listen To Your Body podcast, I’m sharing why diet culture is a thief, and how to take steps to start reclaiming what is being taken from you. The listen to your body podcast has one bold mission helped change-making women like you give themselves radical permission to listen to their bodies get free with food and fitness, and channel their energy, and be a force for good in the world. I’m a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach Steph Gaudreau. This weekly show brings you discussions around dropping diet and exercise extremes, letting your inner wisdom lead and taking up space from inclusive body neutrality, health at every size, nondiet nutrition perspective, we’ll examine how diet culture and the patriarchy keep women busy and distracted by the quest for body perfection, and how we can break free to live life on our own terms. It’s bound to be fiery, and ultimately, to make you think hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And let’s dive in.

Hello, my friend. Welcome back to the podcast. I’m so thankful that you’re here with me today. Before I jump into the meat of this episode, I want to give a content warning and that is that I will be sharing some statistics and discussion about eating disorders and disordered eating in this episode. So if that doesn’t work for you, and it’s activating in any way, you may want to skip this show. All right. With that said, I want to dive into today why diet culture is a thief, what it is taking from you and us collectively, and how we can start reclaiming in small steps, some of these things that are being taken from us in this new season. This is the third episode technically, I’m covering more about some of these bigger, broader aspects of diet culture. And this episode was really inspired by an email that is part of my welcome sequence. So if you join my intuitive eating newsletter, one of the emails that I send toward the beginning is called ‘This Is Being Stolen From You’. That’s the title. And I get so many responses to that email that I decided to turn it into a podcast episode. Now, suffice to say, as I’ve said in the first two episodes of this season, I do not have everybody’s lived experience. I have many social privileges that definitely impact how I even have experienced a diet culture in my life, and impacts how I work with folks and how I lead discussions, and podcasts, and so on about this topic. So just suffice to say I don’t have everybody’s lived experience. And I definitely want to acknowledge those different social privileges that I have. When I was thinking about recording this podcast. I was thinking about stories, not just from me, but stories that I’ve heard from people in my community about the different ways that they’ve really held back from fully participating in life. And I was reminded of this exchange that happened in my community with a mom who was talking about this particular experience that she had had over the summer. They went to a waterpark, she and her family and the kids were playing and splashing and having a joyful, great time. I mean, I can remember going to a waterpark Aqua Park I think it was or Aqua Bogin Maine when I was a kid with my family and I just related so much to this memory but being in the water and playing and splashing and having a great time and enjoying the summer. And this mom stood on the side and wouldn’t get in the water. Because she was so self-conscious about how she looked. I’m assuming there was something there with you know, just being seen. And it just at that moment it hit me that yes, we talked about how dieting and diet culture really messes with our own perceptions of our bodies and what’s worthy but there was this extra layer of this mom not being in the moment with her kids, her family those she really cared and loved cared for and loved. Because of this, I’m not worthy and that story really put it into the perspective of how much diet culture really takes from us.

It takes our life from us in so many ways it prevents us from being present with the people we love and doing the things that we enjoy, and really being able to care for ourselves and each other. So on this episode, I thought that was just an interesting story to share. And I let you know, let me know on social media if you can relate to that, in some way, shape, or form. Before we go any further, you may be wondering if you’ve never heard of diet culture, what diet culture is, it’s really this set of norms and beliefs and resulting behaviors. That says, there’s only one right way to have a body, it has a very specific look. And that really the only valuable and worthy body in our society is a thin body. Not only that, but it also says that the size of our body, we can directly know our health by the size of our body. So for example, saying that thin bodies are always healthy bodies. And that drives so much. It’s so pervasive diet culture is so pervasive, it’s in all of the advertisements that we see, it’s in mainstream media, it’s in movies and television, it is in our conversations on a daily basis with friends and family. It’s really everywhere. And I’ve said this before it is the water to the fish. And when you don’t know it’s there, it’s hard to see it because you just see that the way we relate to food and our bodies is just the way it is. And I’m using air quotes there. But when you start to see the cracks in diet culture, and you start to notice, or you start to become curious about why we are so health bent as a society on fitness and why we promote that above everything else, and we mix up health and weight and we devalue people’s humanity because of their body size, you start to realize how really, truly fucked up it all is. And at the beginning, when you first start learning about diet culture, I’ve said this on a couple of the other podcasts, it’s easy to feel like you as somebody who has dieted or is still choosing to relate to food and that way is being criticized. So it’s important to remember that we can be critical of the systems, especially the oppressive systems that underpin diet culture, that diet culture is a symptom of, like, fatphobia, racism, white supremacy, etc. and we can be critical of those systems while holding space not only for each other, if we’re still tempted to go back to dieting, but for ourselves for saying this is a process of unlearning this because that’s really what you’re doing. If you’re choosing to move away from diet culture or be questioning our critical of it, is that we can question it and still be in the mess, right? It is, it is a mess, it is messy. And I think that that’s the tough part for some of my clients, some of the folks in my membership, some of the folks in my community at large, perhaps even you as the listener, is this desire even to relieve some of the discomforts and say, Gosh, why can’t I just leave behind the temptation of this scale?

Or why can’t I just leave behind this really narrow ideal of what we say is healthy and correct for not only our bodies but other people’s bodies as if that’s any of our fucking business? And it’s not that clear cut. So if you’re feeling like it’s messy, or feel like your foundation is being shaken and you’re, you’re kind of the glasses are being lifted, and you’re thinking, holy shit, now I’ve seen this or I’ve started to see it and I can’t unsee it now. You’re not alone. I promise you. And there are other people out there not just me, obviously, but there are other folks out there who are teaching and leading and in the nutrition space and really touching all aspects of diet culture truly, even if it’s fitness, it’s in looking at the system, the systems that are intertwined with diet culture, like capitalism and patriarchy and racism, like there are so many people who specialize in those specific areas. So if you really want to dive into more understanding those facets, I highly recommend that you seek out some of those folks and continue that learning process. So now that we kind of have a handle or at least a little bit of a concept on what is diet culture. I wrote an email and this email lives as part of my welcome sequence, if you join my newsletter, I send out a few emails to just say, Hey, this is who I am, are we a good fit for, for, you know, coming into each other’s contact with each other in your inbox, that sort of thing. And one of those emails that I wrote last year is called This is being stolen from you. And that email still to this day gets so many responses, folks will read and reply. And it’s generally one of those things where it’s, it’s a bit of a somber reckoning, almost, I hear so many stories of the things that people have held back from because diet culture, is framing, the way that they see themselves and their lives and what they’re capable of doing and what they are not seeing represented out in the world and thinking I could do that, too. Because diet culture is so pervasive, and it is a system that we’re socialized into. And we are we don’t, we don’t consent to it, right? We don’t, we’re not five and say, you know, what, yes, I choose to be in this diet culture, which is going to cloud and warp everything that I’m hearing and seeing about food and bodies and fitness and which bodies are valuable and which bodies aren’t valuable. When we go to the doctor, you know, how we’re going to be met. In terms of our, our body size, and parents putting us on diets, when we’re at those tender grade school ages, those impressionable ages, we don’t, we don’t consent to any of it. And yet, we have to reckon with the outcome, we have to reckon with the fallout of that as we get older, and I’m so proud of so many of you who are interested in doing this work, because you think, Okay, you know what, this is definitely something that needs to heal, not just in me, but in my family, you know, maybe I inherited this way of really looking at food in my body, and dieting from my mom, or my father or my uncle. And, and trust me, it’s not just, it’s not just woman, relative women relatives, I don’t even know how to what to say, their female relatives, it’s not just the women in our lives. So many of you have told me that your paternal figures in your life have encouraged you to diet or to lose weight, or have talked about your body, my, I have a member of my family, who’s a man who picked on me from an early age, and teased me about my body. So it comes from all directions, but many of you have decided to take on that, that legacy work of really healing that for you and saying, I don’t want to continue to keep this going. In my family unit. All of that said, that email that gets a lot of responses really inspired me to want to do this podcast because I think we need to name how we are harmed by diet culture in these ways, like how diet culture has failed us. So here is just a shortlist of what I see what I’ve noticed what I worked with people on, it is not the list, it is not a complete list.

But to me, these are some of the things that we need to name and be honest about right? Because we’re only ever sold a positive view of dieting. We’re only ever sold the benefits. We rarely hear about the costs. We rarely hear about the risks. We rarely hear about the side effects. And they are real. They’re not just even these nice conceptual things. But the way dieting affects us negatively and what it takes from us is having a massive impact and it’s continuing to grow and grow. The diet industry continues to get bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s not getting any smaller and faster. continues to make false promises not just promises, but false promises and it fails to educate us about the downsides or the risks. So here’s just a shortlist, right? Our diet culture makes us play small in our lives. And I don’t just mean like the physical pursuit of getting smaller, which is for many of us, literally never-ending we spend so much time, so much energy, so much money, so much of our brain space. So much of our heart space is devoted to shrinking ourselves down, not just physically but also metaphorically. I said in the last episode, two episodes ago, I think about the patriarchy and how it keeps us as women distracted from using our voices from stepping into our power, it keeps us dulled, it keeps us sedate. It keeps us focused on things that aren’t the most important things. And yes, working on our health, taking care of our health, not just from a physical perspective, from a mental, emotional, spiritual, social perspective, 100%. But when that gets tangled up with the over-focus on things like the scale, and I’m especially talking about small decreases in weight, so there, and I used to be this person, right, if I could just lose these last 10 pounds, just go down five pounds, whatever it happened to be. Not only was that confusing weight for health, but it was keeping me so focused. And I mean, putting a ton of time and energy and resources into that pursuit of being smaller. And, as a result, also playing small in terms of, you know, I don’t feel like I have the energy to do the things that I really, really want to do. I just remember being so consumed by thoughts of food and my body and exercise and was doing enough exercise, and it’s this constant mental gymnastics. So yes, diet culture makes us play small. And it makes us hold back on our dreams. And part of this is it’s not just limiting beliefs, okay, we can’t go there. When we’re really thinking about diet culture as a system or systems, I should say, oppression, that affect especially marginalized folks more than, for example, somebody who looks like me and has been privileged because if we are not seeing ourselves represented in our various identities, especially with regard to diet culture, doing things out there in the world, you know, no matter what our size is, or seeing more size diversity, for example, it’s really hard to think, Oh, I could do that too. As one of the first things I recommend people do, is not only unfollow diet culture bullshit on your social media, because look, you followed it at some point, it may have served you at the time, it doesn’t serve you now, please don’t try to be this person who’s like, I’m going to be strong and still let these messages come at me while I’m trying to learn to be kinder to myself, or heal my relationship with food or improve my body image or don’t fill your feed with that shit. If eventually, you’re like, Who am I want to see the ways in which diet culture is showing up in my space? I don’t know that’s up to you to decide. But I strongly recommend not continuing to follow those accounts. But you can’t just cut out the bullshit. Right? So who are you inviting into your feed that does display body diversity, for example? racial diversity, the ability of our bodies, right? Are you voting for disabled people and abled people? It goes in so many different directions. But this is really interesting, because, again, I mean, I wanted to bring my friend die on the show, to talk about things like the algorithms and how they bias towards white thin young women pride predominantly in the wellness space. That’s a conversation for another day. All this is to say is, if we don’t see ourselves represented, we tend to then second guess ourselves, feel like imposters and ultimately hold back on what we really want to do. And frankly, yes, things like beauty privilege and thin privilege do play into that. Because who is assessing?

If we are worthy or good enough, generally the rest of the world or society or the people doing the hiring, if we’re talking about jobs, or whatever it is. So it’s not just us believing we’re not good enough, but it’s the stuff that’s constantly reinforced by diet, diet culture. And I said this earlier, the next one is we stop living life, we stopped participating. I’m always struck by the piece on the regrets of the dying, which was written by a nurse who ministered or served folks in hospice right at the end of life. And she talked to many of them and said, you know, what are some of your regrets. And it always struck me, not in a necessarily morbid way, but to always think about, you know, am I living life or not, because of what I think is okay, or not okay about my body. So diet, culture steals our life from us, it makes us pull back from having the experiences and participating in all of the things that we love the people we want to be with. And those are really the experiences that stick in that matter. And I always think, you know, is the person that I’m with gonna remember that I have cellulite on my legs, or is that mom that was at the waterpark, or her kids gonna remember, you know, what your belly looked like, or your legs looked like, or they’re probably not going to remember that. They’re going to remember how you made them feel, how they felt how you all felt together, and being in that moment. So diet culture, in general, it’s, it steals us, steals life from us, it seals those life experiences and us being with the people that we love and doing the things that we really love. And we find a lot of enjoyment and fulfillment from bringing it in for a minute. If you are ready to get free with food and fitness, and I mean, true freedom, not just going back on another reset. If you fall off the wagon, if you’re ready to explore radical permission to listen to your body and to live life on your terms, the tune in membership is ready for you. inside of this monthly membership, we learn how to drop extremes when it comes to diet and exercise. You’ll learn how to let your inner wisdom lead, how to take up more space, and ultimately to take the energy that you were spending on the endless quest for body perfection, thanks to the patriarchy, and handle that into being a force for good. All of that happens in a supportive judgment-free community via a mobile app, not on Facebook, and the doors are open for you. So if this sounds like you, please head over to Steph gaudreau.com slash Insider, we would love to welcome you to the tune in membership.

I alluded to this as well. But diet culture makes us chase an ideal in terms of the body that is not possible for many of us, instead of truly engaging in health-promoting behaviors. So this is one of the things that people get really pissed off about when they hear health at every size. They think the movement is saying that everybody of every size is healthy, which I mean, how do we define health? It’s so individual, but it is a problem because body size and health are not the same things. And what health at every size, at its core says is that people in all sizes of bodies deserve to participate in health-promoting behaviors. I don’t think anybody disagrees with that. If you do disagree with that, let’s have a discussion. Maybe on Instagram, send me a DM. But what happens is we get so stuck on body goals, hashtag body goals, makes me want to vomit Frankly, I cannot stand that whole. I need to go on this quest to look exactly like somebody that I’m not. Now yes, you have body autonomy. You get to do what you want with your body. But I would encourage you to stop and say what am I chasing here? What am I chasing right? We get fitness. So mixed up with aesthetics, right fitness is about, you know, your body’s ability to complete a task is essentially what fitness means. But we make it about an aesthetic about a certain Look, here’s the thing, the correct or the sort of desired aesthetic in this society changes so much over the last 100 years, the aesthetic for what is the best body has changed so much. And it leaves so many people out of the conversation. And it leads us away from engaging in these truly promoting health-promoting behaviors. Because we get so stuck on the things that we can do to only worry about our body size to decrease our body size. And we get really tunnel-visioned on that. Another thing that diet culture takes from us is culture. And this is particularly important regarding the tendency of diet culture to whitewash, food, nutrition, and so on. I am not the person to speak on this. But I think it’s important to mention, there are so many wonderful podcasts and teachers out there who are discussing this in lots and lots of detail. But suffice to say the wellness world can really make nutrition into a very homogenous white thing. And even I’ve noticed this with myself over the years as I’ve learned about food and learned about nutrition. I’m always thinking now from whose perspective are we saying that these foods are the healthiest? You know, a lot of times what happens is folks’ ties to their foods that are ethnically or culturally really important to them. Our diet culture attempts to sever those ties and say, Oh, those foods are unhealthy, or those foods are strange, or those foods aren’t okay. And that’s a huge problem.

Just from one story for me, my family is has a lot of polish and Ukrainian heritage. So Eastern European and my grandmother would always make Portuguese and cook. Parag is an all in amongst all sorts of other things. And when I was back home for Christmas, one year, this is after I started eating paleo, and I don’t have a gluten sensitivity or gluten allergies. So I am okay there. But I just was so like, No, I’m not eating that. Because it’s not on this diet, that I had moments where I was back with my family, cooking for the holidays. And I was like, Nope, not eating that not eating, not eating those Portuguese, like these aren’t good for me, these aren’t healthy. And even in that really, really small way. I was not connecting to my heritage. So it’s just really important to mention that wellness, diet culture, oftentimes takes people’s connections to culture and food and their ethnicity with regards to all of that out of the picture, which is a huge problem.

And then, the last point I wanted to make here about what diet culture takes for most is true connection. This is tricky, because, obviously being in a culture of dieting, diet culture has its own set of norms and things you talk about and how you act and what you pursue. And you can just sort of see it repeating over and over again, right? before and after photos, and coaches and companies that sell their products based on that. And even things like competitions in an office setting or a work setting, or a gym setting where people are working on supposedly getting healthier, but then they’re either paying money as a penalty because they didn’t lose enough weight, or they slipped up or whatever the thing might be. What we end up having is this competition instead of a real connection. So diet culture makes you feel connected because you’re part of this larger pursuit of improving supposedly our health. And at the end of the day, if you take yourself out of wanting to talk about dieting or weight loss or it’s like you can feel so alone. I hear from so many folks who say you know, I’m not sure what to do because everyone in my life talks about dieting and weight loss If I decide to take myself out of that conversation, I have no one to talk to, or I have nothing to talk to them about. So we’ve mistaken, real, we’ve mistaken competition for real connection, or we’ve mistaken, the connection that diet culture brings us with deeper connections with other people. Because when diet culture is taken out of the equation, when we say I don’t want that anymore, suddenly, we’re left without a support system or a safety net even and being able to connect to other people in our lives. So it’s a real concern. The other thing here is we mistake, body bashing for bonding. I first talked about this with grace Edison back on the podcast last year, Grace talked a little bit about this, we’ll link to that in the show notes. But the idea here is that we as a diet, culture-based society, talk about pick apart, comment on concern troll over people’s bodies, we bash our bodies, we bash each other’s bodies, we nitpick our bodies, we tear ourselves apart, we tear other people apart, we’re constantly concerned with what people are doing with their bodies and their health. And, and we mistake that or we get the sense that that’s bonding in some way like we have that commonality.

It’s like complaining about the bad weather, right? We have that thing that Bond’s us that connects us, but it’s not healthy for us at all. If we really truly look at it, so we have this overall illusion, their diet culture, that we have a connection. But then when we take those things away, we find out we can be really, really, really be alone, which is one of the reasons I will constantly come back to harping on this in a loving way. But when you decide to start unpacking diet culture and start moving away from these practices in your own life, you need support, do not do this on your own, because you will quickly become overwhelmed and subsumed again by this larger dominant system. So please, please, please get support in some way, shape or form, whether that’s a friend, it’s a support group, it’s a membership with a community like the one that I offer. Just get support from somebody else, please don’t do this alone, it is not a pursuit that you need to undertake by yourself. And it is going to be a lot harder if you do. So those are some of the things that diet culture takes from us stealing right from under our noses. And again, we don’t realize that if we’re in this culture all the time, which is why stepping away can be so illuminating, and yet really shake our foundation. So we’ve talked about what diet culture is and what it’s taking from us. In this next little section, I just wanted to quickly share some statistics with you because this is not just me, running my mouth or making things up or you know, all this stuff, you only work with a very small number of people in the world. And maybe this isn’t everybody. So I just wanted to share some statistics with you and also say that these statistics are often not complete. For example, they may only center on women where we know that nonbinary folks, as well as men, also struggle with things like disordered eating, low body image, eating disorders, so on and so forth. So please take these statistics, not as complete or the stats, but just to kind of put it out there that again, the toll that diet culture is taking on us is heavy and the corporations and companies and industry do not they’re not forthcoming about the risks. They are not forthcoming about the downsides of things like dieting. So again, if you somehow jumped in late if you feel like this could be activating or triggering for you for me to talk about statistics, with regard to disordered eating, or eating disorders now would be the time to click away. Alright, the first one I wanted to share is a 2008 survey that was conducted by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, along with Self magazine, they surveyed over 4000 women. Now again, not a scientific study, but a survey. And this survey concluded that the women aged 25 to 45 of those 4000 plus women 65% showed some sort of disordered eating, that 39% of the women said concerns about what they eat Or what they weigh interfere with their happiness. That 27% would be, quote, extremely upset if they gained just five pounds. And here is 150 3% of dieters in this survey are already at a and I’m going to put this in air quotes at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose weight. Now there is such massive problems with the term healthy weight, we could get into that at another time. But suffice to say here that these women are presumably not in larger bodies, and still putting themselves on weight loss diets. Another, there was a study done in 2005. That cited that over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors, such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking, cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives. And the NEDA, that’s the National Eating Disorder Association. quote that an estimated 20 million women in the US will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. And these statistics regarding eating disorders are sobering because eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It is sobering and somber. But I think we have to sit we have to just at least be willing to hear this, that dieting itself is considered a precursor, in many cases to eating disorders.

So yes, there can be other factors that play in but dieting itself is one of them. In this episode in the show notes, I’ll link to the NEDA, they have many, many resources, everything from screening tools to places where you can get support and help if you believe that you may have an eating disorder. So please go ahead and get screened through them. If you suspect that for yourself, even if you’re not sure, and you’re just thinking, gosh, this is really having a significant impact on my life, the way I think about food in my body, please go ahead and get screened through that link. So those are just some of the statistics. And they’re a very small number of statistics. But we’re seeing that people are not suffering from lower rates of disordered eating and eating disorders as our world attempts to wellness, it’s the way forward, we’re not actually seeing that this is having a positive impact in these areas. So are we willing to continue to let diet culture dieting, put folks at risk for these issues? It’s a huge question and I don’t pretend to have the exact answers of how we’re going to move forward but I think it’s really, really important to be super clear that dieting and diet culture doesn’t just make us play small and hold back on our dreams and make us chase these impossible body ideals and whitewash our culture and our food and cause a false sense of connection. But it can actually take our lives from us literally, in every sense of the word. So how do we start to move past this? The million-dollar question, and there’s no right or wrong or one answer for this issue. And the pace is going to be very dependent on you. And what you’re able to take in and assimilate and learn and get support for and process with other people. Somebody on my Instagram said it’s so well, they said, When unpacking or when going on diet culture, journey or a journey to move away from diet culture, you’re going to need more than an overnight bag. I just thought that was a brilliant way to say it because it takes time. It is an unraveling, of slow untangling, and unlearning and that takes time and it requires self-compassion and connection. Beyond just saying okay, well, I’m going to, you know, go on this weekend cleanse like we’re talking about a completely different timeframe. And it’s really important to set that I guess sort of expectation that it’s not going to happen overnight. One of the very first things if you’re sort of at this pre-contemplation phase, which is I don’t know that there’s anything wrong While I’m not sure that that’s anyone really listening to this podcast, but maybe it is, it’s just to keep listening and getting curious if you’re at the contemplation phase of change, which is okay, I think there’s something here for me to learn and change.

Yes, continuing to learn from a diversity of voices, continuing to get curious, be open, ask questions, even if you don’t know the answers. And just to kind of start immersing yourself, follow different people on social media, for example, that are really feeding you good quality information, and learn from others. Super, super important. One of the next steps that you can take is to get curious about, for example, eating mindfully so people think, Oh, my gosh, I can’t just like, oh, the idea of I hate dieting, and I’m ready to change, but I don’t know what else to do instead. And everything else that’s out there feels too big or too scary, which I want to talk about in another episode. Instead of saying, okay, you have to master the intuitive eating framework. One of the things I recommend to people is, to begin with, mindful eating. Mindful eating is really about building awareness, I have an upcoming episode about it specifically, suffice to say, it’s more about being aware of what you’re already doing than making 10 bajillion changes. And I have a mindful eating tool, which combines mindful eating practices with habit stacking to make changes stick as you’re starting on this journey to be freer with food. So you can find a link to that on my site. One caveat is that oftentimes when you see mindful eating out in the world, it is used to promote weight loss. My tool is not that so it’s from a weight-neutral anti-diet, health, and every size intuitive eating friendly perspective. Just wanted to mention that. And then lastly, I would say is just kind of looking at the progression of this is yes, embracing more intuitive eating principles. Working on incorporating those into your life. No, it’s not something you do on a weekend or even a month, it is an ongoing set of practices says that you incorporate and you will not get perfect all the time. But it’s really looking at how do I incorporate these principles into my life. So that way, I can move away from the rigidity that often accompanies dieting that I can examine how I relate with my relationship with food and movement, and my body, and so on, and so forth. So that is, obviously a much bigger picture. So I don’t always recommend just jumping into all 10 principles. At the very start, even if you’re like, Yes, I am ready, is take it slow, right? Take it slow, let these things sink in. get curious, noticing what’s happening in your body, for which mindful eating can be really helpful. Get support, continue to talk with people who are doing this so that you are constantly reinforced that even though anti-diet principles are still not the quote norm or the mainstream, that there are people out there who are supporting this, you are not alone. It is so very critical that you get that reinforcement in that support.

So in this episode, just to sum up, we talked about what diet culture is, we talked about what diet culture is taking from us, and why diet culture is really a thief. We talked about some of the statistics that really point to the somberness of the downsides of dieting and diet culture. And then I finished up by giving you some suggestions for really starting to reclaim these things that diet culture is taking from you, not the answers. But certainly, I hope that these topics that we talked about on this episode today are helpful for you would love to have you hit the subscribe button on your podcast app, of course. And also remember to pick up the mindful eating tool. It’s available on my website. You can also find it linked through my Instagram, and my LinkedIn profile. Share this episode out If you enjoyed it, tag me so I can see it on Instagram. And I really, really appreciate it. That’s it for now and until next week, be well.

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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