How to Live a Non-Diet Life in a Diet Culture
Have you reached the point where you are done with dieting? Are you tired of the weighing, the tracking, the lists of foods you shouldn’t or should be eating? Are you sick of feeling like you aren’t measuring up every time another diet fails?
You can leave all that behind by saying goodbye to dieting forever.
Making up the decision to give up dieting for good is a powerful choice that will change your life for the better. But often, the decision itself may not feel like enough in our culture that is completely submerged in the dieting mentality.
Just take a step back and be aware of where it’s lurking: it’s in advertisements, splattered across magazines at the checkout aisle, in conversations with co-workers and distant relatives.
Diet culture is everywhere.
So how exactly can you go about living freely apart from diet culture when it is part of your everyday?
The key is to be proactive about deliberately creating a lifestyle that is no longer dictated by a dieting culture. What does this look like practically? Here are three simple ways you can begin breaking free from diet culture in your life today:
Go On a Diet
Wait, what? A DIGITAL diet, that is - time to detox from all the negative messages that are subtly influencing how you think, feel, and move throughout your day.
Take an honest look and inventory at your social media accounts, websites, blogs and podcasts that you frequently engage in. Are any of the online accounts you follow part of the diet culture movement? There’s a good chance you may be following someone who frequently touts the latest diet products or before and after pictures that claim to be evidence of the latest and greatest diet fad.
Time to cut this stuff out of your life and away from your precious mental space.
The average American spends nearly 24 hours per week online. That's a lot of screen time!
Instead, follow individuals, people, podcasts, etc. who encourage you, make you feel positive about yourself and the body you are in now, and who don’t push dieting in any shape or form. Trust me, a digital diet is the only and best kind of diet you will ever need. Period.
Watch Your Mouth (And Your Thoughts)
How do you speak about yourself and your body?
If you’ve been in diet culture long enough, your thoughts and beliefs about yourself have undoubtedly been influenced to make you feel like you are not good enough. The most freeing part about breaking free from diet culture is letting go of the lies that have plagued you, including:
I can’t be successful until I lose weight
I don’t deserve to be happy
I’m worthless and unlovable the way I am
I’ll never measure up
I don’t deserve to eat the foods I like
...and on it goes. The lies can stop now. The first step toward freeing yourself from this damaging rhetoric is to be aware of it.
What are the lies that have been circulating in your mind? How has diet culture destroyed the way you feel about yourself and your body? Are you saying any of these things out loud or dwelling on these things throughout the day?
It’s time to get your precious mental space back. Catch the thoughts or words as they come to mind or are being said and ask yourself, “Is this aligned with diet culture, or is this helping me break free from it?”
Be ready to counter those lies with truths about yourself and your worth - even if you can’t believe them yet, the more you practice, the easier it will become to grow into this new identity. You’ve got this. Here are some ideas:
I am inherently worthy and valuable, regardless of my weight or body size
I am loved and deserving of love, no matter what the scale says
I deserve to be kind and compassionate to myself
I don’t need to conform to an arbitrary standard of beauty
I am free to live the life I have always wanted
My body does not need to change in order to love and be loved
Make Friends With Food (and Your Body)
Ditching the diets means you are free to trust your body as the ultimate guide to what you need to eat. You are no longer a slave to diet rules that tell you what you can or cannot eat, nor do you need to feel guilty or ashamed when those diet rules are broken.
You are free to enjoy, honor, and respect your one and only body.
Food is meant to be both nourishing and pleasurable. There isn’t any diet that will allow you to experience this freedom and begin to feel at home in your body.
But you have to first decide you’ve done your last diet. It is possible to cultivate a positive understanding of health and what it means to care for and nourish your body and your children.
I know that may be scary when diets are all you’ve ever known… but ask yourself this:
Has your diet ever been loyal to you?
Exactly. I didn’t think so.
But your body will always be there for you, doing everything it can to protect you on your life journey. Isn’t it time you trusted it to do so?
Giving up dieting means making peace with all foods and treating your body with the respect and kindness you give to other people.
Food is not the enemy. Your body does not need to be resisted. You can find the freedom to embrace a life you LOVE when you give up dieting for good.
So whether you’re at the crossroads and considering giving up dieting or have actively started to move away from diet culture, know that you are not alone. Remember that you are deserving of a life that is not defined by a dieting culture, and you are capable of breaking free!