Diet culture, something we are all too familiar with. Skinny teas, appetite suppressant lollipops, protein shakes, zero-calorie noodles… aka money-making strategies of corporations who benefit from our insecurities. It needs to stop.
It saddens me to hear people talk about diets. I’m not shaming people who do, but I think they should be made aware of what it is they’re actually talking about. Diet culture is something that is unavoidable, we see it in magazines, shops, social media, waiting rooms, schools, bus stops… What we need to realise is that this is all consumerism; making us feel worthless, not ‘good enough’, fat, ugly, and abnormal so we buy the products to ‘fix’ ourselves. In this way these companies selling us the products are making huge profits which they can then use to maximise their marketing, thereby continuing the cycle.
Skinny teas are a load of crap. Tea is a drink that has traditional values in many countries, cultures and religions, it should not be something sold to consumers with labelling designed to trick us into thinking we will lose weight from it. Items being labelled ‘low calorie’ are also pretty stupid. We eat food because we need calories, they are the energy molecules that allow us to live as functioning beings. So by eating low-calorie foods all the time your body is not getting energy and will be running on empty, making you tired and grouchy, and basically no fun to be around.
But what’s important is for us to think about why we give in to the messages thrown in our faces that make us feel inadequate. Do you believe you are not worthy of love, acceptance and pleasures because you don’t have a body that is considered ‘normal’ in the beauty industry? If so, don’t be investing money on diet books, meal replacers and pills to change your physique, instead, invest time and energy into changing your thoughts in order to be happy in your own body. If you truly feel at peace with yourself, you will not want to harm your own precious body by starving it of carbs, fats, laughs, hugs and smiles. You will not feel the pressure to follow whatever pointless diet an influencer is following because you will appreciate your current state of wellbeing.
Intuitive eating is listening to your body’s needs and satisfying those needs by eating what it craves. If you only eat one certain food group, your body begins to crave others as it is deficient in particular nutrients and lacking essential food groups. Adding plenty of whole foods to your diet will give you a surprising amount of energy and make you feel a lot less restricted. Avoiding foods considered ‘unhealthy’ (which, in my opinion, doesn’t exist), can result in binging of those foods at highly stressful or emotional times, and it is also a form of self-hatred as we are not allowing ourselves simple pleasures. Intuitive eating may be difficult to follow at the beginning, but after time it will become a habit.
Please be mindful of who you follow on social media, many influencers do not have accredited nutritional/psychological education and promote products to get money from sponsorship. It does not mean the product works. It is always healthy to have a social media cleanse and unfollow anyone who lifts themselves higher by putting other people down. Also in real life, if you hear people speak ‘diet talk’, you have the right to remove yourself from the conversation or educate them of the dangers of this industry.
There’s this beautiful thing that happens when you give up diet culture: You finally have the space to learn more about yourself – Melissa Carmona.
Megan has written lots of posts for us on her experience with an eating disorder. Just type “Megan” in our search box to read more….
If you have been affected by something mentioned in this article, and want to reach out for help, below are some of the fantastic supports we have here in Ireland.
BODYWHYS: Online, phone and group support for eating disorders.
SPUN OUT: This is a one-stop shop for all mental health issues. The articles are very matter of fact, helpful and all bases are covered.
SAMARITANS: This helpline is open 24 hours a day and completely confidential. Call 116 123.
CHILDLINE: Helpline and online support, offering advice and support to young people under 18.
AWARE: Providing support and assistance to that section of society whose lives are affected by depression, bipolar disorder, postnatal depression or suicidal thoughts.
TURN2ME: Support for anyone feeling anxious, sad or lonely.
YOURMENTALHEALTH: Lots of information about Mental Health in Ireland.