In my last post, I talked all about the basics of Intuitive Eating so if you're new to the blog (Welcome!) and you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, check out the post here.
Today, I want to talk about rejecting diet culture, one of the principles of Intuitive Eating, and what that can look like in your daily life. But first, what is diet culture and why reject it?
Diet culture constantly tells us that we are not enough. That we are not good enough unless we are a certain size/shape/weight. It devalues our self-image and puts us down when we are aching to be lifted up. It promotes unkind thoughts, unhealthy comparison amongst us, and the idea that you can "hate yourself to healthy."
None of this works.
The logic does not add up. How does putting yourself down because you do not fit a certain standard lead to becoming a more "perfect" happy/healthy/confident human being? It doesn't. It just makes you feel pretty awful about yourself all.the.time. So let's stop!
The following are 3 small steps you can take to begin to reject diet culture and it's presence in your life.
1. Change your social media environment.
The social media we consume is often a reflection of our lives, interests, and aspirations. If you are constantly seeing a barrage of thin models, layouts of meal plans/plates/bowls that depict "clean eating," and other well-meaning but damaging messages like the quotes above, you are probably unconsciously comparing yourself to these unrealistic standards. And when we expose ourselves to harmful messages that put us down, it is likely that we will internalize those messages. This can lead to a decreased sense of self-worth resulting in you holding tighter to the diet mentality.
- How to break free --> Unfollow brands and profiles that are doing you a disservice by promoting an impossible "ideal" and follow accounts that promote body positivity, health at every size, and intuitive eating. Instagram now allows you to follow hashtags which makes this even easier!
- Hashtags to search for on social media: #bodypositivity #haes #bopo #intuitiveeating #bodypos (You can also follow me @modestmodfare!)
2. Stop "shoulding" yourself.
I learned this nifty trick while I was in therapy awhile ago. Okay, it's not so much a trick as a way of reframing your thoughts to enhance self-compassion. Notice how many times you think or say "I should do ______" or "I should be like _____." Think about how you feel after you have those thoughts. Guilty? Ashamed? Down on yourself? Every time you use the word "should" you are judging yourself, putting yourself in a negative light by measuring yourself against external standards. You beat yourself up instead of taking the opportunity to build yourself up.
- How to break free --> Make a commitment to stop "shoulding" yourself. Challenge yourself to use other words or phrases to get your point across. For example: "I should run more" becomes "I want to run more." "I should have had the salad instead of the burger" becomes "I regret ordering the burger." The difference seems small, but the consequences of changing your language towards yourself is great.
- As an added challenge, push yourself to think the thought through. In the examples above why do you want to run more? Why do you wish you had the salad? Changing your "shoulds" is one small way to start building more self-compassion, making it easier to reject the judgmental diet culture.
3. Make a list of foods you love.
Diet culture is about denying yourself the foods you truly enjoy in lieu of foods that are deemed "clean" or "healthy." The big problem with this? Denying yourself the food you love makes those foods more enticing than they would be if you removed the restriction entirely. It's the whole "forbidden fruit" concept. In fact, this restriction, as seen in the graphic from my last post, inevitably leads to feelings of deprivation and giving in to temptation, often by consuming more of that food than you would normally.
- How to break free --> Settle down with some tea (or coffee/margarita/wine, you get it) one day, dream up all the foods you truly love, and write them down. This sounds like an easy exercise, but in order for you to be 100% truthful with yourself, you have to let go of diet culture for a few minutes. My list includes ice cream, bagels, peanut butter, cheeseburgers, properly dressed salads with all the fixings, bread, chocolate everything, and so on...
- Next, cross out the items on the list that are things you already have on a regular basis.
- Now you're left with a list of foods you currently restrict or monitor. Consider it your goal to stop restricting all of these foods eventually. If that seems overwhelming, choose one or two items to keep stocked in your house this week.
- Remind yourself constantly that you can have these foods whenever you want with no judgment. This takes time and practice so be patient with yourself! You may find yourself over-indulging in some of these foods in the beginning - and know that this is OK and completely normal. The goal is to normalize these foods over time.
If you feel frustrated or stuck, know that Intuitive Eating is a big ole process that looks different for everyone. Just know that you are developing a better relationship with food. Every stumble you may have can lead to a better understanding of yourself.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns using the form at the bottom of the page!