Diet culture is defined as a set of beliefs that values thinness, appearance, and shape above health and well-being. Diet culture places the importance on restricting calories and labeling certain foods as “good” and “bad”.
So when I walk around a grocery store, market or other location where food/beverages are involved, I often hear people saying, "I can't eat that", "what has the least amount of calories, i'll take that" and "that's not good for you". But why? Where did these phrases come from?
Social Media = Fast Food
When I think about it, social media and television are a lot like fast food when it comes to diet culture. Social media and television are convenient - like fast food. People order fast food because it is quick, little wait time, and there is no time wasted trying to look up what an ingredient is because everything is left in the simplest terms, nothing fancy. That is exactly what social media and television have done to diet culture - they make it easy to understand, keeping the information on a diet in simplest form, however, not telling you all the details of what it includes. Social media and television don't waste your time telling you to do your own research when it comes to a diet, they simply state to look for the foods that have a label on it relating to the diet or better yet just show you individuals who have tried the diet and had success from it. Of course, if we see that it worked for other people it has to work for us! Wrong.
Sadly, all of these diets we are being fed from the internet and television are just a money grab! Americans spend an estimated $66 billion annually on dieting, and one of the most common demographics trying to lose weight is young women. I see all over tiktok, young girls promoting diet products which are only being shared amongst all the other young individuals on the app! I just want to send a PSA out to everyone saying these diets are not worth a penny because they are all short term fixes; they won't last!
The Bottom Line
Diet culture is prevalent in today's society so we won't see it disappear in the near future. However, there are ways you can help eliminate diet culture in your life:
Unfollow toxic accounts and instead follow accounts with diverse body types
Do not edit photos. Embrace your natural self!
Recognize that thinness does not equal health
There is no good or bad food. Health and wellbeing are always above thinness, appearance and shape. It is about loving yourself first and making the healthy, sustainable steps in reaching any health/nutrition goal you may have!