“Diet culture demonises certain food, while the real culprit is diet culture itself.”
~ Christy Harrison, FoodPsych Podcast, Episode #159
I want to tell you about my weekend, because I think it’s a familiar story to many people. It also tells the story of how diet culture could easily have sneaked in, and what the consequences would’ve been for me.
It was a Saturday afternoon. I was on the hunt for kitchen tiles. The morning I was helping my husband figure out why our electricity was off and assisting the cleaner in de-dusting our apartment. We are in the middle of renovations and my entire kitchen is standing in my living room at the moment. The poor cat is freaking out and I ran down the road to the Spar this morning to get everyone coffee.
We had a hurried meeting with our contractor, and then I set off to find tiles before the tile stores closed. I now found myself at the third store, with my stomach grumbling. At the coffee counter I looked around for something small to eat – there was lunch waiting for me at home. All I could see was a small sausage roll. Now I don’t particularly like sausage rolls. I also had a craving for something fresh. But sausage rolls were my only option. I didn’t waste another second, and ordered the sausage roll, had a quick coffee with it and continued to three more stores and then home, to have lunch and a nap.
Now diet culture would tell me to have more self-control. To not eat anything with refined carbs, or pastries baked in oil, or with processed meat in it. Eish- all the rules! Diet culture would probably also tell me to have planned better and priories my ‘health’ above all.
The thing is, I was doing the absolute best thing for myself in that moment. My other choices were to leave and go home to eat my planned lunch – then I would’ve had to make time to come back and finish my tile hunt. I could also have gone to find a restaurant that sold something “healthy” – spending money I didn’t need to, because I had lunch at home. I could also have felt incredibly guilty and spent an hour berating myself for eating ‘bad food’, instead of concentrating on what I needed to do. I could’ve forced myself not to eat anything and tile-shop while my blood sugar dropped and I became increasingly grumpy. I could’ve felt guilty for not planning my day better, instead of realising that I WAS winning the day because it was just simply a very busy day. None of the above options seem healthy to me.
We eat for many reasons. We eat to give our bodies energy. We eat to socialise and celebrate special events. We eat to satisfy our cravings and meet our emotional needs. We eat because it’s fun. And the list goes on.
Today, I ate what I needed to because I needed energy to get on with my day. Which I did. And I had a very productive afternoon after that.
You’re probably wondering if I went for a run that afternoon? I planned to yes. Not because I ate a sausage roll. No, because I love the feeling when my body moves. I love being outside. I love the clarity of my mind after I ran.
This week, I want to encourage you to spend less time feeling guilty about what you eat, and more time expanding your definition of health to include mental health and emotional health as well. What do you need in every moment? Sometimes you need to have a lovely fresh salad because that’s what you feel like having. Sometimes you will eat something you don’t particularly enjoy because you are kicking ass at life and a sausage roll, or a hurried McDonalds burger is what you need to win the day.
Ditch the guilt- that’s more toxic for you than any food could ever dream to be.
You’ve got this!
Edit* I actually didn’t go for a run, I went for a walk in the mountain with my husband. Meeting the same needs, plus connecting with someone I love. Flexibility and meeting your needs in the moment is important.
Do you feel like diet culture has a grip on your reality?
Is your weight, body and food choices taking up 90% of your thoughts?
Is diet culture impacting on your relationships, your work and just getting on with life?
Contact me for more information. You deserve to live a life of freedom from diet culture!
Here are some lovely resources to kick-start your journey on ditching diet culture: