Episode 28 – Diet Culture with Lisa Kehler
written by Lisa Kehler (Registered Dietitian, Food Freedom Coach) on 20/02/20
WHY CHALLENGE DIET CULTURE?
Diet culture is a manufactured way of seeing the world where the shape, size and weight of a body is more important than its physical health or the mental health and wellness of the person residing in that body.
Diet culture diminishes our personal power by promoting a widespread message creating a cultural belief that the appearance of our body, specifically “the thin ideal” is the gateway to success, acceptance and happiness in life.
By commandeering all our resources including time, energy, money and mental and emotional bandwidth it works in direct opposition to what we truly seek; connection to our true Self, connection, purpose, joy and wellbeing.
DEFINING DIET CULTURE
Christy Harisson, author of “Anti-Diet” (a new must-read book for anyone wanting to learn more about diet culture and its history) defines diet culture in a way that is illuminating, showing us that diet culture hides in plain sight. – everywhere around us.
“Diet culture is a system of beliefs that:
- Worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue, which means you can spend your whole life thinking you’re irreparably broken just because you don’t look like the impossibly thin “ideal.”
- Promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, which means you feel compelled to spend a massive amount of time, energy, and money trying to shrink your body, even though the research is very clear that almost no one can sustain intentional weight loss for more than a few years.
- Demonizes certain ways of eating while elevating others, which means you’re forced to be hyper-vigilant about your eating, ashamed of making certain food choices, and distracted from your pleasure, your purpose, and your power.
- Oppresses people who don’t match up with its supposed picture of “health,” which disproportionately harms women, femmes, trans folks, people in larger bodies, people of color, and people with disabilities, damaging both their mental and physical health.” Source: Christy Harisson, author of “Anti-Diet”
TIPS TO INCREASE YOURCONSCIOUS AWARENESS: RECOGNIZING AND RESISTING DIET CULTURE
1. Challenge automatic thoughts and notice where they come from
“If only I were a size “x” I’d be so much happier.” Really? Are you sure about that or did you maybe just see a triggering commercial? Could investigating what comes before these thoughts change anything for you?
2. Challenge old assumptions…”thin” isn’t a synonym for healthy!
Despite what all the ads and diets suggest you can’t judge health status by weight or body size. Learn more by checking out Health at Every Size® at www.haescommunity.com. The HAES® approach promotes balanced eating, life-enhancing physical activity, and respect for the diversity of body shapes and sizes. Does this new information change your perspective?
3. Notice how complimenting on weight loss is not a compliment
Be aware of the unintentional message being sent with a compliment on weight loss. “You lost weight, you look great” can carry a false message that someone wasn’t good enough before. What’s another authentic compliment or word of encouragement you could give?
4. Notice diet and weight loss talk
It takes a village here because we’ve learned to connect with others by talking about diets and weight loss. Start noticing how much airtime these topics are getting in your circles. How do you feel about this?
5. Notice the environment…is it inclusive or does it promote “thin privilege”
“Thin privilege” as a concept refers in part, to a world or environment that accommodates only smaller bodies. Do the chairs in the office comfortably and safely accommodate bodies? Does the store have a range of clothing sizes for all bodies? What do you notice?
6. Notice when we allow food and diets to define us or others a person
Notice all the ways diet culture assigns judgment or status according to what people eat or don’t eat. Is someone who “eats clean” a better person? Am I a bad person for eating chips and cookies? Am I worried about others judging my lunch? What do you think of that?
7. Notice the “earning and burning” messages attached to moving
Are the people around you or the ads you see and hear talking about moving or exercising as a way to lose weight, earn a piece of cheesecake or burn off last night’s happy hour? How often do hear someone describe their love of an activity or other benefits like relaxation, self-care time, connection, etc?
8. How can you start creating diet culture boundaries for yourself?
How can you start protecting yourself from diet culture in a way that feels comfortable for you right now? Maybe telling your lunch group that a topic other than diets would be nice isn’t in your comfort zone right now but maybe changing the subject is? How about social media? Why not take inventory and actively delete diet culture? Notice how you feel with these boundaries.
For more information about diet culture or working with me please contact me through Safe Harbour Therapy https://safeharbourtherapy.com/team/lisa-kehler-food-freedom-coach-dietician-winnipeg/ or through my website at https://www.offyourplatenutrition.ca/contact