It's officially 2021 and a Monday so that means that start of something new right? Did you make resolutions or did we all collectively decide that getting through 2020 was enough as is? My resolution was to be more active with the blog to bring everyone more tidbits on how to break up with diet culture for good. Yay! Maybe your resolution was to decide that you were over dieting for sure and want to eat healthy. Okay but what does that look like exactly?
Sometimes even with our best intentions, our pursuit of health, whatever that looks like for an individual, is still very much rooted in diet culture. And we don't even realize it. Diet culture is sneaky like that. So what are some activities that we do that might still be dieting subconsciously?
You are buying the same brand/type of food that you bought when you were on your last diet. Wait what? But what if you really like that food? Okay but, do you really like that particular item, OR are you used to knowing how many calories, grams of fat, protein, carbohydrates are in that food? Hmmmm. It's okay to really think about this and reflect. While dieting, you were given a certain calorie allotment most likely and you knew which foods and brands fulfilled that. Would it scare you to purchase something new?
You are going to not diet but eat "clean". This term always has some opinions. What's wrong with the term clean you ask. It sounds innocent enough, especially when you want to eat healthier. But what foods are clean and what foods are dirty? Did your food fall onto the ground that's soiled? Then yes I encourage you to only eat clean. But we all know this is not what it means. It implies that you are still categorizing food as good and bad. To really let go of dieting means that food should start being seen as neutral.
You still abide by time rules. Your tummy is rumbling but it's not noon yet. Your tummy is rumbling but you ate dinner an hour ago. You are hungry but you don't want to eat because of the time. This is still a food rule that is a part of diet culture. If you are hungry you should eat. Full stop. Your body doesn't have an on and off switch. Your metabolism doesn't stop working. You can and SHOULD eat. Who came up with these times anyway? Why does lunch start at noon? I mean really.
You still feel that you need to earn your food. Okay you are giving yourself permission to eat anything, BUT only if you exercised or were "good" the day before. This is still dieting and diet culture. Yes you gave yourself permission to go to that burger joint but only allowing yourself to go when you think you earned it, is a food rule. You don't have to earn your food. Not now or ever. Exercise is amazing for you and I highly encourage it. But it is not to be used as a checks and balancing system. Really give yourself unconditional permission to eat.
You are still thinking of weekends as "cheat days". Yes we've all been there. I remember when I was in my disordered eating days, I would long for Fridays. Not because it meant the end of the work week, but because that was my designated cheat day. I restricted my intake so much that I made lists of everything I wanted to eat Friday. And let me tell you, it was a long ass list. The fact that I had to make a list said everything about what my relationship with food looked like. Not great. You don't have to cheat on the diet that you're not on. You don't have to wait until a certain day to eat ice cream. In fact, allowing yourself to eat what you want, actually helps with the feeling of being "addicted".
These are some of the signs that you can look for. But if you really think about it, you probably have more food rules that you realize. How do you pick your food, whether it's grocery shopping or ordering delivery? Are you following a set of rules that you don't realize? No one is blaming you for feeling the need to diet or restrict. It's the culture and society that's the problem, not you. It's especially hard and difficult with the change of routine and being in the middle of a pandemic. If you think that you need a little extra help and motivation (don't we all?), there is a masterclass that I'm super excited about. Say It Brave Masterclass | Health At Every Size: Hope for the New Year will be presented by myself as well as Meredith Nisbet, MS, LMFT for Eating Recovery Center. Mark your calendars for January 14th 8:00PM EST.
Let's begin the New Year by breaking up with diet culture for good. It's the ex that you know the relationship is not beneficial but are still hanging on to the what if. It's okay to let go.
XOXO - Shana Minei Spence