The very first principle of intuitive eating, Reject the Diet Mentality, is the foundation upon which intuitive eating is built.
But even before we can practice eating intuitively, we must first “unlearn” diet mentality and the diet culture that has been ingrained in us since…well, forever.
What is diet culture anyway?
Diet culture is a pervasive system of beliefs, social behaviors, values, and norms in society that assigns a hierarchical value to bodies and normalizes the pursuit of thinness because smaller bodies are favored over larger ones.
Diet culture characterizes food choices as “good” or “bad” and, ultimately, promotes personal health choices as a sign of moral character. So larger bodies — regardless of their health behaviors, food choices, or metabolic health (i.e., cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar) – are considered “less-than,” weak, lazy, and slow. And smaller bodies – regardless of their health choices and metabolic health – are valued more.
But what does unlearning diet culture actually look like? What are the concrete steps to walking away from a paradigm that has held you hostage for so long?
So how do we unlearn and challenge diet culture?
It’s pretty much become “common sense” in mainstream dialogue to say something like, “Well, of course being thinner is healthier!” We have been programmed to think that the only way to achieve health is by making our bodies smaller – even if that means that we need to literally starve ourselves, fear food, obsess over the scale, obsess over calories or points or macros, feel shameful, and for some, develop eating disorders.
The truth is much more complex than that. Our weight is almost entirely out of our control, and has way more to do with our genetics, socioeconomic status and access to health care. In order to be metabolically healthy, there are numerous factors to consider, weight being one of the least important!
Important determinants of health include:
- Access to safe movement spaces
- A variety and balance in our food intake
- Daily stress (either from life choices or because of living in a marginalized body)
- Our environment
- The amount of fulfilling, social interaction we get
- And so much more!
All of these variables factor into our true, holistic wellbeing. And if all of these things are in the positive, so to speak, your weight just… well, it honestly doesn’t really matter.
So why focus on something that 1. Doesn’t really matter much in the grand scheme of things when it comes to health and 2. Is basically outside of our control anyway? Instead, if health is something you value, focus on the parts of your life that could use the support. Do you need more self-care or more interaction with good friends? Do you need more pleasure and satisfaction in your life or more rest? These are the important questions – not what jean size you’re wearing.
If you’ve had enough of diets, enough of restricting yourself from certain foods, enough of binge eating on foods that seem to call your name and letting a number on the scales determine your worth and your value; if you want to change all this, then register for the Intuitive Eating Essentials for Midlife, Menopause and Beyond course. It is a self-study program that teaches you the steps of moving into intuitive eating and learning to accept and even love your body.
Don’t get trapped in the diet culture world. You can be part of a Health at Every Size® world where you love your body and yourself! Start today! You CAN change your life!
If you aren’t sure if the program is right for you or you have questions, feel free to book a no obligation call.
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She and her team of eating disorder specialists and Anti-Diet Dietitians provide insurance-based care for eating disorders, disordered eating, chronic dieting, or other health conditions in a safe and non-judgmental space for healing.
We work virtually with our clients from our offices in Westchester County in New York as well as the tri-state areas of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, along with Florida, California, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, and Vermont. We are in-network with the following insurance companies: Aetna, Cigna, and United Healthcare; including Oxford, UMR, and The Empire Plan (NYSHIP).
We take the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, Erica will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!