Hi friends! Today's post is a fun blog swap with my favorite "other Amy", Amy Shen! To read my post on her blog, click here, and keep scrolling to read her post about arming yourself against diet culture! Diet culture. Have you heard of it? Even if not by name, I’m sure you’ve experienced your fair share. It’s the headlines on magazines promising to help us “drop weight fast.” Or the radio advertisements encouraging you to get your body fat frozen off. It’s the social media accounts trying to sell you a new powder promising to give you a “beach body.” It’s these messages that claim their goal is to help us better ourselves, when in reality, they just leave us feeling bleh + down on ourselves. Not cool, diet culture. Not cool. So, let’s talk tips to help get that negativity outta yo life!
SOCIAL MEDIA CLEANSE
This is pretty much the only cleanse we'd recommend! Remember when our parents would censor the TV shows or movies we would watch? The purpose of that was to avoid putting negative images or concepts into our head that wouldn’t serve us positively. We can, and should, do the same for ourselves now! Get rid of those social media accounts that lure you in with their perrefectly adorned smoothie bowls or daily progress mirror shots. While some claim these to be “motivation,” I’d argue that they only make us more critical of our own bodies and food choices.
FILL YOUR TANK
Once we’ve gotten as many weight/diet-focused messages as possible out of your feed, it’s time to fill your brain with knowledge to combat those big, bold marketing campaigns still lurking around. You’re already on your way to learning more since you’re reading this post on Satisfy Nutrition!
Understanding a bit about of our body’s metabolism and nutritional needs is one of the first steps. There’s a bit of a caveat here, though. In my opinion, there’s such a thing as too much knowledge, especially when it comes to nutrition. So just the basics is sufficient. I don’t expect you all to go out and buy some of the massive textbooks required in nutrition school. However, there are some great, reputable resources online that can help explain how our body digests and absorbs food.
For example, if you understand that carbohydrates are essential fuel for our brains and provide energy, you’d easily be able to dismiss the plethora of low-carb diets out there.
Other major things to read up on include: health at every size (HAES) and intuitive eating (IE). These are two major concepts that help explain why diets don’t work and why we don’t need them in order to live a healthy, happy life. I've included several links at the bottom of this post including blogs, books, + podcasts that provide HAES/IE content + reliable nutrition information.
Having more positive food + body image information swirling around in your head can help push out the diet talk that constantly tries to invade our brain space.
REFRAME FOOD TALK
So what about that friend who loves to try out that latest fad diet? Or the family member who likes to nitpick what you put on your plate at holiday gatherings? You have a couple choices here.
One option is to try to redirect the conversation by changing the topic. It could be as simple as someone bringing up a new restrictive diet plan they saw on Facebook and you saying, “Oh, did you see that adorable cat video so-and-so posted on Facebook, too?” Silly example, but you get the drift.
Or you can choose to speak up directly against the food talk. I totally understand that conflict is a difficult position to put ourselves in, and if you’re not there yet, that’s a-okay. However, if you keep finding yourself in the same negative conversations with someone -- think about if it’s time to say something. Approach it from a kind + understanding perspective while still respecting their thoughts + feelings. Maybe explain that you’re working hard to not focus so much on food/diet/exercise because it’s best for your mental health. Sometimes that’s all it takes!
Other times, they may question you or disagree. You can try to continue to explain yourself, share resources, but ultimately, maybe they’re not in a place that willing to accept your perspective. They’re allowed that, too! So another option is to distance yourself. Maybe excuse yourself from the conversation to use the restroom or go say hello to another friend. It’s okay to set boundaries to protect your mental + emotional health.
BE A SKEPTIC
Just because a diet message made it in the headlines or to the top of your feed, does not make it reliable or true. There’s almost always a fine print. Like how 95% of diet don’t work long-term and often end with regaining the weight plus some. And possibly making you feel out of control around food. That’s kind of a big deal.
Kylie Mitchell said it best when she said “You don’t have to believe everything you think.” Or read for that matter! Look at the source. What’s their motivation? What are their credentials + education? Just because it’s been put out into the world doesn’t mean you have to apply it to your life.
- Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole + Elyse Resch
- Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon
- Rebecca Scritchfield + her book Body Kindness
- Food Psych Podcast
- The Real Life RD
- Rachel Hartley Nutrition
- Smart Nutrition
- Abbey’s Kitchen
How do you tune out the weight loss + diet talk?
Like what you read? Find more from Amy Shen, RD, LD here: