I recently came across the term “Diet Culture”. Do you know what diet culture means?Though the name sounds familiar to most of us and we are living daily in the diet culture, we spend our daily lives even without realising how diet culture has overtaken our lives.
It just seems so normal.
So what exactly is the Diet Culture?
It is a belief system that defines the way we think about body size and focus on weight, shape and size over well-being. Diet culture also categorises food as good and bad which then leads us to be filled by negative emotions of guilt, regret and shame. We either starve ourselves or calculate every micro bit of food that goes into our tummy than really enjoying the health benefits of our food, or for that matter even feeling full. And when it comes to daily exercise, it is just a means to achieve a perfect body or set a style statement rather than a means to keep one healthy and happy.
This way of looking at ourselves or for that matter at others has gripped our brains in a way that it seems normal to us.
So does it make diet culture right? I don't think being part of the diet culture can really make us healthy and happy.
Yesterday this girl in the gym walked up to me and asked me how much weight I have lost. When I told her that I have lost 30 kgs instead of having any kind of positive reaction her immediate response was, “Thats why your hips have lost their shape??”
I was just left speechless and for a minute all I could think was that instead of appreciating each others as humans we have been conditioned over time to see each others as fat or thin, black or white, broad or narrow. This conditioning has not happened over night but is a aftermath of the slow exposure to DIET CULTURE.
The result is a permanent scar on self-confidence and self-esteem. Diet culture definitely
promotes weight-loss as a way to create superiority or higher status (or at least makes us believe so). It is like a spider-web which you don’t realise exists till the time you yourself get caught in it.
So how do we break this chain?
The most important approach to quit the toxic Diet culture is to start by loving yourself.
Few tips to get started on this -
1. Embrace yourself - No matter what size you are or what stage of life you are in, only you are the true judge of that. Don't let any article or person tell you how you feel about yourself.
2. Love what you eat - You should eat healthy and introduce new food groups to your kitchen. Try spending some time cooking (its really therapeutic) or help your family in the kitchen. Do it for the right reasons.
3. Build healthy habits - Start by building new habits. Replace that packet on chips in your cupboard with a fruit, try to reduce salt in your food, eat slowly or start exercising. You know best what you need to change and never forget to enjoy the small victories. For building healthier eating habits checkout my previous blog on Mindful Eating.
4. Create a new Healthy Eco-System - Health is not just about eating right or hitting the gym. It is building an overall approach towards a better lifestyle. So take the first step towards health and work towards adding more changes and building a healthier eco-system for yourself and your loved ones.
So if you are someone who feels are part of the Diet culture and feel trapped, it is probably time to break the chain. The fact that you realise it is the first step of achievement. Work slowly and steadily towards making a happier and healthier life you yourself. Till then Be Happy Be Healthy!!