exploring how diet culture promotes overarching feelings of failure and why we’re better off rejecting it.
I was on a run the other day and I started feeling tired, at which point I decided to stop. For a little background, I don’t time my runs or even really track my distance. I run when it feels good and stop when I feel ready unless I’m training for something specific.
As I was walking the rest of the way home, I started thinking about how, back when I was stuck in diet culture, I would’ve beaten myself up for not finishing a specific distance or going for a certain amount of time. I dreaded my workouts because a) I didn’t have the appropriate energy I needed to fuel them and b) I was doing them out of a sense of obligation versus because it’s what I enjoyed. I had to take a long time away from running to finally get to a place where I could actually enjoy doing it again.
All of this made me realize that what is most sad to me is that my overriding feeling during my time in diet culture was one of failure. I was never as in control of my diet as I was supposed to be, I was never lifting enough weight, running enough distance, eating clean enough, and so on and so forth. No matter what I accomplished, it just never felt like enough.
Diet culture sets you up to fail and then blames YOU for those failures. This culture puts out completely unrealistic eating, body & weight ideals that OF COURSE no one will be able to achieve (while still living a full & happy life). Yet, we still consider our inability to achieve them a shortcoming on our part, not the culture.
When I think back to that time, I mostly just feel so sad for myself. All the days I spent beating myself up, feeling less than and helpless to fix it. Rather than gaining health & happiness as diet culture loves to promise, all I really got was low self-esteem, social isolation and a complete deterioration of my mental, physical and emotional health.
The sneakiest thing is, this doesn’t happen right away. At first you feel a little better as you’re eating more nutrient-dense foods, moving more and generally just taking on more health-promoting behaviors. Couple that with the societal expectation for thinness and ‘clean eating’ and you likely plenty of got compliments on your efforts as well.
For most though, that time is so short-lived and what you’re left with is a cycle of obsessing, restricting and worrying about not going backward. Unfortunately, the euphoria of those initial days suck you in and stick with you, which is what keeps so many of us stuck in it and continuing to try to make it work for so long.
While I’m so grateful to no longer be in that place and feel those things, I know so many are still are. That’s why I’m so incredibly passionate about spreading the anti-diet culture, intuitive eating messaging. It’s such a toxic system that does so much harm without taking any responsibility. It turns us against trusting our own inner wisdom and against appreciating all that we have to offer. It reduces us down to what we eat, how we move and the shape of our bodies when we are just so, so much more than that.
No matter if you’re working to get out of diet culture, happily dieting or somewhere in between – I just want you to know that you are more than the food you eat, the way you look and the movement you choose to do. Those things don’t define your worth or place in this world.
If you feel like you need help in your journey toward non-restriction wellness, check out my FREE non-restrictive nutrition guide.
please note: these blog posts are for educational and informational purposes only and are not intended for use as treatment.0