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. I love everything about it. The ceremony, the occasion, the taste, the exploration. Everything about it … But that hasn’t always been the way.
Up until I was about 22 I had uber body confidence. Even through my uni 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. So let me tell you the very simple thing that I’ve learnt over the last few years … the diet culture SUCKS and here’s why.
Every which way we look today we are taught to be scared of food. Low fat this, no sugar that. Mix that in with health food bloggers with a bouncy blow dry and a group of giggly size 6 friends holding a green smoothie, us normal people don’t stand a chance, do we? 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 in everyday life, we’re subliminally being 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 makes us think we aren’t good enough and that we are bad people. TRUST ME, YOU’RE NOT!
So you’ve eaten 1,200 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 to not 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 BLT 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 it becomes a problem when you can’t stop thinking about that BLT 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? You are allowed to eat what you want when you want but just make sure that your reasons are GENUINE and understand your body may not look the want it to. That’s not a bad thing though. 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!