By: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC
Carefully disguised in the name of health, diet culture has saturated our society, taking many different forms, including “eating clean,” veganism, elimination diets, cleansing diets and more. When done in the name of wellness and disease prevention, many abnormal eating habits can be justified, the potential dangers overlooked when the objective is to be healthier.
With the damaging effects of dieting trends lurking about, especially for those recovering from an eating disorder, when do things take it one step too far when it comes to health and nutrition?
The Reality of Diet Culture
While diet culture has evolved over the years, often taking different forms, the reality is that our society continues to obsess about dieting, reaching an unattainable body type/weight, and all that this entails.
In the face of an “obesity epidemic,” dieting has in fact become commonplace, a false form of security and control as a means of counteracting our fear of fat and everything associated with this. It comes as no surprise that some of the top dieting questions asked in Google include, “How to Lose Weight Fast,” followed by “Best Way to Lose Weight.”
In a recent survey about body image and dieting, 91 percent of women responded that they were unhappy with their bodies and resorted to dieting, with approximately 66 percent of Americans currently on a diet . There is something startling and abrupt to be recognized about a dieting industry that rakes in billions of dollars each year. People are looking for answers in the wrong places, often complicating their health and risking their overall quality in life by engaging in our prominent dieting culture.
Going Against the Flow
Is there anything that is justified about being on a diet? Is health, nutrition, or wellness achieved with anything that condones restrictions in any form?
The reality is that dieting, no matter its form, is counter to what our bodies are intuitively capable of doing. For individuals who are susceptible to having an eating disorder, dieting can be the trigger that influences the development of these fatal illnesses.
No matter the look or claim of any type of diet, the bottom line is always the same: Diets DON’T WORK! The things that are often lost with dieting include self-esteem, confidence, energy, health, quality of life, and an overall peaceful relationship with food and body.
So what can you do in the face of our dieting culture? Resist.
Resist the urge to jump on the bandwagon of a new “health regime” you see trending on Instagram or the diets that claim to give you energy and optimize your longevity.
Anything that recommends restricting any food groups, demonizing certain foods, or deters you from trusting your body completely should be scrutinized and likely avoided completely.
Your body contains all the innate wisdom needed to guide you safely through the diet-infested culture we live in, avoiding the heartache and misery that is attached to dieting in any form. It’s simply a matter of resisting what our culture has deemed as desirable and fighting for normalcy; going against the flow of what everyone else seems to be doing, and making peace with our bodies through gentle nutrition, intuitive eating and exercise.
This may ostracize you from mainstream acceptability, but in the end, you will never regret the choice you made to stand for freedom from dieting.
: Mintel Consumer Reports, “Diet Trends – September 2016”, http://reports.mintel.com/display/748044/ Accessed 19 April 2017
About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her nutrition private practice and work with Eating Disorder Hope. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as a Contributing Writer and Social Media Events Manager for Eating Disorder Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.