If you’re landing on my website or Instagram or if you ever meet me in person you’ll know that my love affair with food goes deep but that hasn’t always been the way.
Up until I was about 22 I had uber body confidence. Even through my university years when those midnight takeaways and sugary vodka red bulls made me a bit chubby around the edges, I didn’t really consider my body and loved it just the way it was. Fast forward a few years later and I lost all that self-confidence and ended up jumping on the diet bandwagon as so many people do. Maybe even some of you who are reading this. However, “diet” really isn’t in my vocabulary any more. Nutella, yes; diet, No, and even though my jeans don’t fit like they used to I’m much happier for it. The story goes that I was saved from my extreme dieting by my rumbling appendix that had to be removed in emergency surgery. My best friend and her mum looked after me as my own family don’t live in London and I couldn’t ‘control’ what food I was being fed. I distinctly remember the feeling of eating something I’d told myself for years I wasn’t allowed to eat and i’ll never forget the feeling of relief that came over me after I didn’t get ‘fat’. Yes, that’s what years of ‘innocent’ dieting had trained me to think. Thankfully, over the last few years I’ve reversed my thinking and now can safely say the diet culture sucks and I’ll never be a part of it again.
…Here are 4 very good reasons why!
Every way we look today we are taught to be scared of food – be it both consciously and subconsciously. TV, magazines and social media – you can’t escape it. Low fat this, no sugar that, eat too much bacon and you’ll die an early death, don’t eat enough bacon you’ll die an early death!!! This is the type of things we have to deal with on a daily basis. No wonder we are so confused! The health food culture has risen ten fold over the last few years. You can’t walk down the road without seeing a poster of someone smug with a perfect blow-dry holding a green smoothie and a ‘raw’ chocolate bar. Don’t get me wrong I actually love both of those things but it’s the subtext that goes along with it. ‘Eat these things and you’re a godess but eat pizza and you’re the devil’. Orthorexia is real. If you haven’t heard of it it’s an obsession with healthy eating that actually is extremely unhealthy. Ironic, isn’t it? In reality, no food is good or bad but we’re subliminally taught that choosing an apple over a chocolate bar makes us a better person . Yes, some foods are more nutritious than others but remember, your choice of either a cheeseburger or kale salad doesn’t determine your self-worth! The diet culture sucks because it tricks us into thinking we are accomplished and ‘good’ when we restrict ourselves and ‘bad’ if we ‘fail’.
So you’ve eaten 1,000 calories today and tracked it on your my fitness pal. Great well done you! Now ask yourself: in 2 years time are you REALLY still going to be punching those numbers in every day to your iPhone app? Probably not! What about that meal plan of soups and cardboard tasting chocolate bars that you’re on? How’s that going a year from now? I imagine non-existent and all it’s done is created short-term achievable goals that don’t translate into long-term ones in the real world. The diet culture sucks because it’s not sustainable or realistic and the sooner you realise that the better.
We’ve been trained nowadays not to listen to what our bodies want. I remember reading an article that said if you’re craving sweets then eat an apple instead. I am sorry but whoever thinks an apple and a bag of sweets satisfy the same want and need are very sadly mistaken. If you want an apple then eat the apple but if you want the sweets then have the bloody sweets! Of course, I understand it’s not that simple. Trusting ourselves is key here as that’s not an excuse to binge on 10 bags of sweets ‘just because you can’, but the difference is determining when you just REALLY want something vs when you’re using it as a coping mechanism for something bigger going on. Once you gain that trust with yourself, it’s a weight (excuse the pun) off your shoulders. The diet culture sucks because it has stopped us listening to our bodies natural desires and as soon as we lose our natural instincts we lose ourselves.
Any type of diet is disordered eating. If you’re eating a quinoa salad at 1:25 pm because ‘it’s part of the plan’ but TRULY want that a bag of crisps you’re not letting yourself have then that’s an example of disordered eating. You’re going against your bodies wants and needs. Now, disordered eating is very different to an eating disorder and I am not going to put them in the same category but dieting becomes a problem when you can’t stop thinking about that bag of crisps all day. It’s also when it starts to affect your social life and relationships with friends and family. Remember you don’t have to look super skinny to have an eating disorder. Restriction breeds obsession, obsession leads to bigger problems. The diet culture sucks and it’s not worth sacrificing your mental health for.
What I’m trying to say is that food has become a bit of an enemy in today’s society but it shouldn’t be. Food is our friend, our best friend in the whole world and we shouldn’t be scared of it. Even white bread, people! It should be used to nourish, enjoy and satisfy ourselves rather than punish ourselves which is what so many of us do nowadays! (My past self-included in that) I once read, “don’t waste 95% of your life trying to weigh 5% less.” Yes make healthy choices if you want to but for god’s sake if you really want that chocolate bar go have it! It’s all about listening to ourselves and learning to trust ourselves again. Isn’t your mental health and your enjoyment of life more important? Don’t take this as a free pass to binge and eat anything and everything you can get you’re hands on. This is not what this is about. You are allowed to eat what you want when you want but the key is making sure that your reasons are GENUINE. With a genuine trust in yourself and a genuine trust in your eating habits comes a genuine love for yourself and the body that you’re in.
WE control food, food shouldn’t control us. That’s why the diet culture sucks!