The holidays are coming and you may find yourself or others saying things that signal diet culture. Diet culture is a system of beliefs which value body thinness over our physical health, mental health and overall well-being. Decades ago, diet culture was very popular. However today, we know that diet culture can lead to disordered eating and a poor relationship with food.
If you find yourself saying any of these statements, take a moment to reflect and consider what you can say instead.
Instead of saying this: You look great! Have you lost weight?
Say this: It’s so great to see you!
While you may think you’re giving a compliment, you’re actually reinforcing diet culture and the idea that thin bodies are better than others. Not only can diet culture lead to disordered eating, but it can also oppress those who do not match up to this image of thinness. The best plan is to avoid talking about your weight or anybody else’s weight.
Instead of saying this: I’m going to be bad and have a piece of dessert.
Say this: I feel like eating a piece of cake. I’m going to take my time eating it and really enjoy it!
Diet culture can make us feel guilty for eating certain types of foods. The truth is that food has no moral value – food is not good or bad, it’s just food. Please don’t feel guilty, ashamed or badly for eating any type of food. Instead, remember that all foods can fit into a balanced eating pattern. To nurture a positive relationship with food, think about your typical pattern of eating (which could include plenty of wholesome foods) rather than the foods you decide to eat at one meal or in one day.
Instead of saying this: I worked out today so I can eat this now.
Say this: I feel my best when I’m active and eat for fuel and nourishment.
Food should not be used as a reward, especially not for children. Know that we eat food for so many different reasons – fuel, nutrition, comfort, connection and celebration. Build habits for a healthy lifestyle which include joyful activity, wholesome eating, sufficient sleep and self care.
Are there any other phrases you would add ? Let me know in the comments.
Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award-winning dietitian and Founder, Nutrition Solutions