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Identifying Diet Culture

by Haley Osborn

In a world obsessed with body image and societal standards of beauty, it’s easy to find ourselves caught in the web of diet culture. This pervasive phenomenon often disguises itself as health and wellness, but beneath the surface lies a complex network of likely harmful beliefs and practices. In this blog, we’ll explore the steps to identifying diet culture and the importance of embracing a more positive and inclusive approach to health.

identifying diet culture

Diet culture is more than just a set of eating habits or a specific diet. It’s a destructive mentality that equates appearance with health, moral virtue, and overall success. Diet culture glorifies certain body types and perpetuates the idea of “good” and “bad” foods. This often leads to a cycle of restrictive eating, guilt, and shame. Identifying diet culture requires a critical examination of the messages we receive about food, body image, and health.

Diet culture often lures individuals with promises of rapid weight loss through fad diets, detoxes, or extreme exercise regimens. These quick fixes don’t lead to sustainable, long-term health. More recently, diets have been disguised as “lifestyle changes” or “clean eating” while having the same goal of weight loss which detracts from true health.

Diet culture thrives on the idea of categorizing foods as either "good" or "bad

Diet culture thrives on the idea of categorizing foods as either “good” or “bad. This binary thinking can lead to a fear of certain foods and an unhealthy relationship with eating. The use of symbols or characters employing colors such as red and green, or symbols like ‘no’ or ‘check,’ may identify this. Facial expressions of individuals in the advertisements can even subtly suggest it.

Whether it’s counting calories, tracking steps, or weighing oneself frequently, diet culture tends to place an unhealthy emphasis on numerical measures, contributing to anxiety and stress. This is promoted by the use of technology, with “health” apps and advertisements trying to convince you to “start your goals today!”

Oftentimes, the diet/clean eating products seen on television or on social media lead you to spend a large amount of money. This can take the form of an overpriced subscription, equipment, or a trainer. The tools themselves may not be inherently negative (like green powders), but can take advantage of people through marketing and this causes harm.

Ex: you don’t need greens powder to be healthy, but marketing can make someone believe such. Some of these tools can be quite dangerous if used improperly. You should always speak to a medical professional before spending a lot of money on extra supplements or “health” products.

Identifying diet culture is a crucial step towards fostering a healthier and more positive relationship with food, body, and self. By rejecting the harmful messages perpetuated by diet culture, individuals can cultivate a mindset that prioritizes overall well-being and self-love. Remember, your worth is not determined by your appearance.

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